From top to bottom: 1) Airport camp with fortifications against polar bears. 2) The altimeter read just under 2000m. Crispin puts thing right. 3) Late night sun. 4) Clearing weather. 5) Eric, the airport manager laughed and shook his head when we asked if we should worry about polar bears. When we showed him this he spent a long time gazing into the distance, then lent us his rifle and told us hang some pots and pans round our tents. Polar bears, apparently, are scared of pots and pans.
It was been a busy week...On Wednesday we went to an area known as the Alpine Bowl and over a period of three days climbed two new summits. The peaks gave us our first view out of Renland to the sea which was truly awe-inspiring.
Earlier in the week we also made an ascent of an unclimbed glacier. We are now eating and resting before our final trip to explore another area of The Edward Bailey glacier.
Friday brought the expedition's first success: an 800m route to an unclimbed summit. The following day we recc-ed the far west of the Edward Bailey Glacier before returning to base camp covering 50km in a 17 hour day.
On Sunday we celebrated Nat's Birthday at base camp in some style with whiskey and glacial ice, chapatis and a whole dundee cake.
We are now bivvying at the far east of the Bailey Glacier and will set off at midnight to recce a new glacier.
After 2 days of recces we found an objective: a 1771m summit on an ice cap. We will attempt this in the coming days. Since then we've been stuck at camp due to persistant rain and low cloud. The weather improved yesterday and we went to attempt a rock spire 3 km from base camp, we returned back via hidden crevases on the approach glacier. We diverted to climb a rock tower which we summited just after midnight. It's still light here, in bed by 4am. Morale is high and botanical collection has been started!
Finally the day we had been building up to via weeks of planning had arrived. We made the final leg of our journey to Renland and our home for the next month. Despite some moments of doubt as to whether we would actually make it due to bad weather, a spectacular helicopter ride gave us our first taste of the incredible scenery that awaited us and the challenges that lay ahead.
We set up Base Camp amongst towering rock spires on the middle of a glacier and having settled in, took some time to ponder our climbing objectives for the coming weeks. Tomorrow (Saturday) we will do a recce of the area and get our bearings before, if all goes to plan, our first climb on Sunday.
We are all healthy and well, and in fine spirits. And so far not so much as a polar bear’s whisker in sight…C, R, and N