Escarpment – by Brian Newham
We were extremely fortunate to have had such good conditions yesterday and to have taken full advantage of them. Whilst the weather wasn’t bad today, the visibility has been quite limited and it would have been hard to do a meaningful reconnaissance of the route ahead . With that already done and some of the loads already moved through this tricky section, as we did yesterday, we had good tracks to follow so we continued our move. By the end of the day everything was safely at the bottom of the escarpment and it’s nice to know that this obstacle is now behind us.
The loads are now being reconfigured yet again. Seven loads will become four and then we will be off once more. Ahead of us now are several kms of blue ice and we will have to double-head our loads (both Cats pulling each load) until we reach a better surface. Thereafter we should be able to move as four loads again as we trundle towards the mountains across a hanging plateau.
Although we can’t see them today, we know the mountains are there. In a few days’ time we will be amongst them.
Yesterday was a different story, with moderate winds and sometimes excellent visibility. Fantastic views of the mountains to the north, and between us and them a lower plateau which we will be crossing in the coming days. On our southbound journey this section caused us many problems and we had to do a significant amount of snow pushing as we filled-in and bridged many unavoidable crevasses. It was far from straightforward as it’s a blue ice area and building materials were hard to come by. Fortunately most of that work is still intact and the winter drift and cold has consolidated the repairs nicely.
We approached this area with considerable apprehension, but yesterday we made the best of good condition and made encouraging progress through a tricky section.