Caroline George and First Ascent Team Skis More of Antarctica, Preps for First Descents

Caroline George cuts down slope with Mount Vinson behind. Photo by Jake Norton courtesy of First Ascent.

Dispatch by Jake Norton

We had another stellar day today in the peaks off the Branscomb Glacier a couple of miles from Vinson Basecamp. There seems to be endless ski opportunities in this area – not surprising since we’re on a continent almost entirely covered in snow and ice. What has been surprising is the quality of the snow we’ve found.

Often, we’ve heard, the conditions for skiing here in the interior are marginal, with variable crust and massive patches of rock-hard, blue ice covered by a thin veil of snow. Hit one of those with some speed and you’re down for a home plate slide. Fortuately, some recent wind events combined with the uncommon snowfall of early season, have created great conditions around VBC.

Seth Waterfall drops his K2s into the snow. Cool photo! Photo by Jake Norton, courtesy of First Ascent.

Today, we moved again to the beautiful ribs outside of camp in the late afternoon when the sun gets low and backlights the whole area. Peter, Seth, and Caroline skinned up to a great location below and terrifyingly big cornice; fortunately, their position was well-protected by a hug bergschrund just below the cornice and gave safe access to good terrain below.

We all had a great four hours shooting under the low-Antarctic sun with perfect snow conditions. We skinned back to camp by 9 p.m., had a stellar dinner, and started organizing gear again. Tomorrow, our Twin Otter arrives midday. We’ll fly around Vinson for a bit and then go off scouting for an unclimbed and unskied peak. With luck, the 16th will find us in new territory on an untouched peak in the Antarctic.

~ by Genevieve Hathaway on January 19, 2011.

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