Skip bows out

We were at anchor overnight in Ocean Harbour, a few hundred yards from the melancholy wreck of the Bayard, heeled over as she has been since she was wrecked a hundred years ago.  The shore here is seamed red with rusting remains of the fur sealers, including a steam locomotive tipped on one side by some long-ago gale and left to subside into the tussock bogs.

We were ashore soon after breakfast, very much the B-team because Stephen Venables had taken Tom and Gavin to ski-climb a nearby peak. The rest of us climbed a headland up and out of the bay and gazed up at the climbers, tiny black dots zigzagging up what appeared to anxious spectators to be one massive slab waiting to avalanche. We watched and waited until they reached the horizon ridge, seeing them ‘climbing strongly towards the summit’, and then continued our way on down to come out once again at Cumberland Bay, looking across to KEP.

Pelagic, Cumberland Bay and the Neumayer Glacier

There is a tiny refuge hut used by BAS on the beach. It looked a romantic refuge, furnished with a wooden bunk, a primus stove and some tins of baked beans, and a Tilley lamp swaying overhead. The backdrop of the Neumayer glacier marching down to the sea looked spectacular enough to command the attention for a few stranded days….

Now we are at anchor in tiny, sheltered Cobbler’s Cove. Plancius came up behind us and sent over a dinghy for Skip, who has to move on to his next work commitment. We sent him off with three cheers.

Now we are drinking wine in the saloon and thinking about tomorrow. Macaroni penguins are on offer.

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Feather-footed through the plashy fen?

We sailed round yesterday afternoon to Royal Bay and went ashore in the dinghy for a walk. Elephant seal cows wallowed in the gritty sand, either about to or having just given birth to this season’s pups. These scraggy black bags of loose mammalian flesh appeared to be just clinging to life, and indeed several of them had already lost the battle. Skuas picked indifferently over the remains, rising in a sudden crowd to converge on the afterbirth of the latest arrival.

The huge scarred bulls snorted and bared their teeth at us, probosces wobbling as they flung back their heads, but despite their size they are too ungainly on land to be a threat. One eye out for the younger bulls hovering at the edge of the herd, they rest and wait for their harem to finish weaning the current young so they can get started on production of the next lot.

Spring comes to South Georgia.

This afternoon we are at anchor in nearby St Andrew’s Bay where there is a vast colony of king penguins. I wandered through the hordes, speculating on the evidently complex patterns of penguin social behaviour and wondering if the hierarchies might be just as subtly nuanced as those governing interrelationships of the New York Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron members.

The penguins are moulting and they stand with their shoulders hunched, itchy-looking and vulnerable as the wind scours away the old feathers and whirls them into the air like fish-scented snowflakes. On the beach we found a similar scene to yesterday’s: hundreds of elephant seals, skua-pecked calves, bloody scars and a general sense of red in tooth and claw. Nature down here isn’t soft or pretty or cute in any way at all. Dick and I agreed as we stood shivering in a scouring wind off the glacier that we felt rather depressed to contemplate it. We came back to the boat for tea and scones.

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After reaching Stromness Bay we sailed straight round here to Grytviken Harbour, where we have been moored for the last three days. The rusting remains of the whaling industry line the shore, there is a Scandinavian church and a rather good museum, a tiny cemetery enclosed within a white picket fence, and the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton. The buildings of the British Antarctic Survey station are about a quarter of a mile away.

Today, Monday, we shall be moving on – sailing southeastwards down the island’s northern coast to Royal Bay. Last night there were lenticular clouds over the local peaks, and there are high winds out at sea.

Last night everyone in Grytviken was invited to drinks and a barbecue aboard Plancius (named ‘of course’ as Christopher points out ‘after the well-known Dutch cartographer’). This is a small cruise ship jointly chartered by the New York Yacht Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron to bring members for a South Georgia visit. There were some quite grand people aboard but as we have the Commodore of the Ocean Cruising Club (‘proper sailors’) in our little group, we were able to hold our heads up. It was a genial evening but those cruise ships are so noisy and overheated and soulless. It was pure joy to climb back into the Zodiac and whizz back across the black water to beautiful, spare and sweet-sailing Pelagic Australis. (Am I getting hooked?  Do I need to develop a taste for offshore sailing?)

We had a nightcap around the saloon table and laughed a lot.

Yesterday all the team except Jonathan and me went to climb Mount Petrel, behind the base here. Summiter Gavin Brazg reports:

Rising directly from behind our current berth at Grytviken, 2000ft of glory waited patiently for an early morning molestation.

Rain so light it could only be called “drizzle” was enough to prompt earnest discussions of whether this project was worthwhile at all. Procrastination (not al fresco achievement) seemed to be the order of the day. In truth, we had become soft and delicate after our Bacchanalian adventures down the BAS bar the night before.

To me, one hill is very much the same as the next (sshh, don’t tell anyone I said that, ’tis heretic talk in current company). It’s true though – 99% of the time is spent looking at your feet and the sandwich you packed in your rucksack always gets squashed and a little moist.

Still, Mount Petrel turned out to have a few surprises in store for us. Lulled into a false sense of security by the initial (and rather gentle) undulating stroll over the tussock we hit snow. Skis and skins on, what followed next was a 3-hour battle against gravity and friction that left only 4 of original 8 summiting the old girl.

It would be remiss of me to name names as to who did and did not make it to the top but “yes” that’s me standing triumphant upon the peak. Boastful? Perhaps. However, as everyone knows, history is always written by the victor.

Summit of Mt Petrel: Stephen, Gavin, Tom and Dick. Well done chaps!

And from me again here is the last chunk of the report from the Traverse itself.

Camping. The night job.

It was a job, I can tell you. I know it’s not the Pole, or the south col on Everest, but it was quite out there enough for me. My previous adventures with glacier camping have all involved a Sherpa camp team, a snug mess tent and ‘Hot tea, madam?’ every half an hour. Or more sensibly an Alpine refuge with bunk beds, snoring Italian alpinists and comically extreme lavatory arrangements. (like the one at the Vignettes hut, on the Haute Route, once visited never forgotten).

Not here. On our traverse there were no lavatory arrangements. Unless you count a hole and a spade, in full view of 9 guys. And we were the Sherpas.

On the first evening, after a stiff final ascent to the selected snow scoop, there was no chance to sag or even catch our breath. It was still blowing a massive hooley. We were straight into digging out and flattening three tent platforms. Following bellowed but barely audible instructions from our leaders we fought to put up three tents with double poles for security in the maddeningly flimsy net sleeves. The domes bucked and leapt to escape from our numbed fists and the flysheets twisted like dragons’ wings.

‘****s sake hold on to the ****ing flysheet’ bawled Venables. And then ‘**** the ****** for a ****ing ****’ , as the tab to secure the poles at one corner of a tent ripped clean away. He fixed it somehow from inside, with a slit in the groundsheet and a sling and carabiner. ‘Arr. Forty years afore the mast’, he mugged rather admirably.

We dug out blocks of snow to weight the valances. We secured guy ropes with ice axes or snow stakes or skis dug into the snow. We dug deep foot-pits in the porch areas front and back. We dragged off our ski boots, crawled out of the wind at last and contemplated the dry bags we had each hauled in off the pulks, containing our sleeping gear, dry socks, a mug and spoon. A foam mat apiece, a thin thermarest mattress on top of that, and a sleeping bag. Christopher and I collapsed on our sketchy beds as if felled by a blow. The process of putting up our camp had taken two hours, and it was getting dark.

The third camp, on the Fortuna glacier before Breakwind Ridge

Wonderful Skip sat with his feet in the kitchen pit and fired up a gas burner balanced on a sheet of plywood board. Hot tea came, followed by tomato and onion pasta and a nightcap of hot chocolate with a nip of Christopher’s whisky. Seconds later I was asleep.

Following our dismal practice night above Chamonix I had a warm dry hat and a fleecy pillow. With all my outer clothes piled on top of my bag, three layers of tops and leggings underneath, socks, hat and gloves, and the proximity of two other bodies (kindly, the men let me have the middle place) I was just warm enough. In Stephen’s tent there were four people, which must have given huddling together for animal warmth an even more noticeable effect.

I don’t think I have ever slept so soundly. In the morning it took another two hours to strike the tents and pack everything away again ready to travel.

Each night and morning was similar, but we got a little faster with practice. Each evening Skip cooked for Christopher and me. I did offer, but was refused. We alternated evenings between pasta and risotto, and packed in the heavy food bag for each rope were generous supplies of everything else from coffee powder to muesli, nuts, cheese, chocolate and salami. Each morning we took a little bag for a lunchtime picnic and stowed it in our sacks. We were well fed, and surprisingly well rested in the circs.

Yes, inside the tents at night we all used our pee bottles rather than trying to pull on ski boots and totter out into the howling night. It was discreetly done. I added the refinement of knotting a jacket around my waist to form a curtain before exposing my backside. And that’s all on that topic.

We were confined to the tents on the beach at Fortuna Bay for a solid 36 hours. In our tent Skip told us stories of skippering the maxi yacht Drum, Simon le Bon’s boat in the Whitbread and we talked and slept and listened to iPods, drank soup, ate pasta and bars of Green & Blacks, and slept again. It was lovely, companionable and secure with the constant batter of wind and rain outside and the spare comforts within. Life seemed very simple and good. Although Christopher remarked at one point that our tent looked much like Tracy Emin’s bed.

Just with a thicker layer of penguin guano.

I’m not a camping convert, it’s a bit late in the day for that, but hauling everything in our pulks enabled us to spend five nights and six days out in places we’d never have been able to reach otherwise, and to feel real isolation from the world. We’ve done the same route as the James Caird party – and I know just how long and hard it would have been for those brave men.

Frank Worsley, captain of the Endurance, Able Seamen Timothy McCarthy and John Vincent, carpenter Harry McNeish, the magnificent Tom Crean and Shackleton himself: we salute you.

I’m sorry this is so l-o-n-g. There seemed a lot to tell.

Shorter reports from now on, but I’ll keep writing. Ten a.m., and off to Royal Bay.

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The traverse: day job

Technically the route isn’t difficult, apart from lowering ten pulks off the Trident and Breakwind Ridges. (Any more of that and you’ll go straight to the Headmaster, Matt Graff).

Only a couple of short ascents couldn’t be tackled on skis with harscheisen*, and even of those none was intimidatingly steep. Easy enough with crampons and ice axes. Most of the downhill skiing was on gentle glacier slopes, the only problem being control of the recalcitrant pulks that snapped at our heels like disobedient dogs on leashes. The uphill skinning to the cols – i.e. most of the route – was long and steady rather than gruelling.

Yet when I asked round the dinner table last night for everyone’s worst moments, there were plenty of offerings. Even Skip and Tom the Supermen came up with some temporary navigational glitch that had occurred in minimal visibility on the featureless expanse of the Crean Glacier. Most of us had had a low moment on that second afternoon – exhausted from hours of hauling on ropes and pulks, and thinking we had five hours of skinning into deepening darkness ahead.

My personal worst though was on the first afternoon, crossing the Murray Snowfield.

I’d been pretty chipper all morning. Swinging along in the middle position on our rope of three, Skip setting a manageable pace and Christopher moving easily at the rear, I thought, GREAT. I’m fit enough to romp up the Shackleton Gap without even feeling breathless. My pulk feels heavyish but once under momentum it swishes over the snow obediently enough. This is a wild and wonderful place with rock and snow and sunny skies and no human presence bar our own.

Janey skinning

Janey skinning

It’s all going to be easy-peasy. Marvellous.

Ha ha. We stopped for lunch in rising wind. Thin grey cloud had already shawled the sky and without sunlight the scenery became bleak and hostile. I made the hideous mistake of lowering my harness and trousers to pee without bothering to unfasten the pulk traces, or my rucksack straps, or the prusik knot securing the pulk to the rope. Embarrassed as usual by the process, I pulled my stuff together too hastily afterwards and stepped the wrong way. The other ropes were already moving off into the white murk. My harness was twisted, the rope was round my leg, everything was in a nightmare tangle. Skip was nose into the wind like a gun dog. I lurched in his wake. The pulk fishtailed exhaustingly on knotted traces.

I struggled on, against a desperate crosswind. The snow was scoured to pearly ice, nasty and featureless. My skins kept slipping sideways instead of gliding forwards, but Skip pulled inexorably ahead so I was tugged in two directions. By now the wind was blasting in huge snowy gusts. My face stung with it. Suddenly a massive gust came (‘Fifty plus’, the men said later) and lifted me right off my feet. I was dumped on my side in a cats’ cradle of ropes. It’s hard to get upright with crossed skis and a cumbersome rucksack, let alone from under a red plastic sledge on an incline of sheet ice. People yelled inaudible instructions into the teeth of the gale.

The second time it happened I very nearly laid my head on the ice to weep. But luckily – and no doubt accurately – I judged that this wasn’t the moment for waterworks.

We trudged on, and at long last reached our first camp under the Trident Ridge.

I thought, how many more days like this can I actually survive?

But that was really the worst of it, and it wasn’t so bad after all.

There were far more compensatory vistas and small achievements and shared moments with my companions than I can list. The team spirit was almost the best thing about our six days out there – a word of muttered encouragement or commiseration from one, a helping hand from another, the almost constant jokes and the unfailing good humour. At one point Gavin saw I was struggling on foot down a gully, silently took my skis from me and tied them to his pulk alongside his own. He was already hauling twice my load. It was a very Polar Hero act. We might almost have gone so far as to shake hands, wordlessly of course.

Stephen at the head of the gully.

Stephen at the head of the gully

When Skip and Christopher and I finally crawled into the refuge of our tent ahead of the storm down at Fortuna Bay, Skip patted me on the shoulder. ‘You’re a good trooper’, he said.

I felt as proud and happy as when I passed my cycling proficiency test aged 9.

And then there was the sheer beauty of it all. Pictures will show it better than words – Skip and John have some magnificent ones. I hope to be posting a few of these, with their permission, but a full selection may have to wait until I‘m back in UK…. I’m already quite a lot of dollars in hock to satellite upload time….

The single best moment?

On top of Breakwind Ridge, seeing the mouth of Stromness Bay in the far distance, and a cliff above with the same Z-shaped band of pale rock that Shackleton recognised at 7 am on that May morning in 1916 and knew they were almost at the end.

I was in his exact footprints. Not so very many people have stepped in that place.

Yesterday I had a great birthday. There were presents wrapped beside my place at breakfast, and Laura made a wonderful chocolate cake – with candles and Happy Birthday – for tea. Special thanks to her and Miles for everything, and also to Jonathan to making a superb curry (my favourite) for dinner. Afterwards we went out for drinks to the BAS bar at the King Edward Point Station, and talked to biologists and museum curators and the rat eradication expert.

The rest of the team has gone out ski touring today. Later – a barbecue with the New York Yacht Club on their cruise ship, shortly to arrive in the Bay. It’s a social whirl down here. Wish you could all be with us.

Tomorrow – extreme camping.

* Ski crampons for uphill skiing on ice. ‘Skins’ are for uphill skiing on snow.

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This is what we did

For those who have done the Traverse (and thanks for your messages, however you have picked up this blog), or who know a little about the territory, what follows is the summary. For everyone else I’ll try to describe what it was actually like to do it  in a couple of future posts. I am, frankly, still too weary and spaced out do the experience justice today. And apart from anything else it’s my 64th birthday: I intend to start celebrating pretty soon – and not to stop at least until it’s not my birthday any longer.  Cheers!

Day 1. We were put ashore at Peggotty Bluff early this morning. Our gear had survived overnight packed in the pulks and all we had to do was step into skis, clip into our traces and move off in our three ropes. We climbed up Shackleton Gap and headed east across the open space of the Murray Snowfield. Contrary to the forecast the wind got steadily stronger. By the middle of the afternoon we were fighting gales with gusts up to 50 knots. Twice I was blown completely off my feet and dumped upside down. More about that later. At last we made the steep climb up to a point just below the Trident Ridge and camped in a wind scoop.

Day 2. Following a 4 am wake-up it took two and a half hours to strike camp and get ready to move. After the short climb to the ridge itself, we were faced with the task of lowering ten heavy pulks down three climbing ropes tied together to make a 180m length – down not one but three separate stages, making a total drop-off of well over 500m down to the Crean Glacier. This massive task took seven hours. Stephen, Skip and Tom bore the brunt of the technical rope work but we all worked flat out wherever we could. By the time we were down and had gulped some food it was 3pm and there were still 12 km to cover until our planned camp. I don’t think I was the only one who felt beat, and relieved when Stephen called a stop for the night. There was a good deal of anxiety about our exposed position in the middle of the glacier, with big winds forecast overnight. But there was nothing else for it.

Roped up on the Crean Glacier

Day 3. In the event the winds were not too bad overnight. We even had a lie-in – until a luxurious 6 am. We crossed the remaining expanse of the Crean, made a gentle climb to the division from the Fortuna Glacier, then skied down to our next camp in another snow scoop sheltered beneath rocks below Breakwind Ridge – our position, as I noted in my scribbled diary, 37 deg 52 min W, 54 deg 10 min S.

Day 4. Up and over Breakwind Ridge – a short climb using crampons and ice axes up the headwall, to the narrow rock ridge itself, then another shorter lower for the pulks down to the Fortuna Glacier, where we had a view to our left of the blue slice of Fortuna Bay and in the distance another bluff, beyond Stromness Harbour. It was from Breakwind Ridge that Shackleton heard the distant toot of the whaling station’s whistle, and knew that he was in striking distance of rescue. We skied over spring snow in wonderful sunshine, descending all the time until we reached a narrowing gully through which a river funnelled towards the sea. Hard going on touring skis, let alone towing an unwieldy pulk. At last we gained the beach at Fortuna bay, and camped for the night.

Day 5. Tent bound, in high winds and torrential rain.

Day 6. As I described yesterday, we completed the last portion of the journey known as the Shackleton Walk. Up from Fortuna bay, over some rounded cols, and a ski descent on heavy snow to the last mile or so of stumbling over boggy tussock grass to the shore of Stromness Bay. When we got to the beach champagne was brought over by Miles in the dinghy and Skip popped the bottle cork with one slash of my K2 ski…..

Skip cracks open the champagne at Stromness Bay

The tour as a whole was both harder and longer and more demanding than I’d expected – probably the hardest expedition I’ve ever made – but also far more exciting, more satisfying and more complete than any other ski mountaineering excursion.

The history is so vivid, so all around you. The scenery is staggering. And the savagery of the weather means that you are continually rocking on the sharp edge of potential disaster – without any prospect of external rescue. Unlike in the Alps, or even the Himalayas, the cavalry is not going to arrive eventually in a helicopter to winch you off. There was no time, fortunately, to reflect on this while it was all happening.

Today we are moored on the pontoon at Grytviken harbour. We have washed and sorted gear and stowed it away, have visited the Museum and the church. Laura has just produced an amazing chocolate birthday cake, with candles, and everyone sang happy birthday.

Tomorrow – pictures, and an attempt to describe what the traverse was really like.

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Free on board

Oh, oh, oh – what an incredible adventure!

This morning I woke up at first light – 4.30 am – to the kazoo blare of a king penguin. I’d spent 36 hours captive in bed in a tent with 2 strong men, so no complaints about the weather… but no complaints about the early start either, since all I’d done was sleep.

Since then we’ve made the final steps of the Shackleton journey, round Fortuna bay and up over the last col from where we saw Pelagic Australis waiting for us in Stromness Bay.

I was thinking all the time of Crean, Worsley and Shackleton himself as they plodded the last steps down to the whaling station. What an extraordinary feat of strength, fortitude, belief and leadership that journey was – I know how much determination it must have taken to keep putting one foot in front of the other, because I  have just done it. I did it well-fed, well protected, warm(ish) and well led, and I am too exhausted to write any more tonight. God knows what it must have been like in 1916.

We are all safe and happy to be back on board.

Full story, and pictures, over the next couple of days.

Thanks to Laura for keeping you all in touch while we were out.

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Message fron Laura, First Mate on Pelagic Australis:

“Oh how quickly everything changes.  Strong winds, pouring rain, and the intrepid mountaineers haven’t left their tents all day! The weather was too ferocious for us to make it over and safely anchor at Fortuna Beach so we are still tied snugly alongside the dock at Grytviken. Even if we had been able to make it to the bay, there would be no chance of getting ashore due to the wind and surf, and so Skip called at lunchtime to tell us to stay here and wait till tomorrow to head over to them.

It feels awful to us, sitting here in the comfort of the boat: warm, dry, plenty of food and drink, a kettle on the boil whenever we want it, space to stand up and walk around.  When the call came through at 8pm, Skip said they were still cooped up, listening to the rain drumming on the outside of the tent, and whenever they did venture outside they got soaking wet, which in turn meant that everything inside the tent got soaking wet – he said it was easier just to stay inside.

The weather has already moderated so we’ll leave at 4 in the morning – at first light, to be there at breakfast time and we’ll hand over the brownies I made earlier today along with some dry kit. Then the team will hopefully have sensible conditions to make it over the last pass to Stromness where we’ll take them on board tomorrow night.

With any luck, Janey will be back tomorrow with her update and summary of the past week, so until then…”

King penguins at the foot of Fortuna Glacier, South Georgia Island

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Fortuna Bay, Wednesday 19th October 2011

Message fron Laura, First Mate on Pelagic Australis:

“We have had the most beautiful day here today. Dark blue skies, warm wind and blazing sunshine and Miles and I just couldn’t resist going for a bit of a hike of our own. We donned the snow shoes and climbed up over the saddle behind Grytviken to get a taste of what the guys have had this week. It was so refreshing and energising to stand at the top, to survey the mountains and sea below us, to breath in the cool crisp mountain air, to see Pelagic Australis and Grytviken – an old whaling station, almost dots in the distance. A rare opportunity but one that we just couldn’t let slip by. The going was tough as the snow melted and became more and more slushy and like granulated sugar. Even the snow shoes couldn’t stop us falling through to our knees on occasion.

We thought how it must be for the Shackleton team. Would it be easier in skis? How would the pulks* fare in the thick slush? Would the snow be firmer if they were on a glacier? They must be incredibly fit to be doing what they are doing. At 8pm local, the phone call came through, and this time I had a chance to chat a little more to Skip, and to Janey. They are back down at sea level and have a good camp set up on Fortuna beach for the gales forecast for tonight and tomorrow. They have apparently had a BRILLIANT day. The sun shone, it was windy at times, but they said the skiing was fantastic and that everyone was well and happy. Janey said that they have experienced the whole range of weather, that it has been an incredible week and they are all ecstatic to have made the crossing so far. It feels slightly strange to imagine them there, cooped up in their tents waiting for the gale to start, and reflecting on their achievement. I believe the plan for tomorrow is for some of them to hike back up the mountains for some extra skiing, and for others to stay on the beach to get to know the wildlife a little better – or shelter from the wind.

Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

We will take Pelagic Australis round to Fortuna Bay tomorrow once the storm has blown through, and will hopefully have a chance to speak to them on the radio and maybe even drop off a bottle of wine…!  The next day they will finish the traverse with a climb over to the Whaling Station at Stromness. It really makes you think how Shackleton must have felt when he came down to Fortuna Bay, hoping to find help, only to hear the whistle from the whaling station, over another pass to the east. These guys I’m sure will find it hard to set off again knowing the comfort of the boat is so close, but they need to ski for just another 5 hours or so and then we’ll welcome them back on board on Friday with a fine meal of steak, Dauphinoise potatoes, fresh vegetables, lemon pudding and wine, oh so much wine, followed no doubt with a dram of Scotland’s finest.

Let’s hope the wind doesn’t blow their tents away.”

* The sledges on which tents, food, and all other supplies are towed behind each skier.

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Breakwind Ridge, Tuesday 18th October 2011

Message fron Laura, First Mate on Pelagic Australis:

“Very poor Iridium connection on the phone tonight, only managed to give them the forecast and to find they are nearly on the Breakwind Ridge. It was a stunningly beautiful day here at Grytviken so we are hoping they had similar conditions up there.

The forecast is for the breeze to fill in from tomorrow overnight, and then blow hard all day on Thursday. After that it looks calm again so we hope they’ll decide to stay up and weather the storm.  If they don’t, we’ll be picking them up tomorrow or on Thursday morning, but we feel it would be a shame if they cut it short.  We’ll let you know as soon as we know more.

Sorry we can’t be more informative, but we tried to call back to speak to Janey, and their phone is switched off.  They have to conserve batteries in this cold weather and use the phone for absolutely necessary comms only.

More tomorrow…”

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The Crean Glacier, Monday 17th October 2011

Message from Laura, First Mate on Pelagic Australis:

“So I have just spoken to Skip.  They have had a tough day up on the mountains – we knew it must be as we had a lot of snow and wind at sea level, so it would be worse up high.  They had hoped to get to Breakwind Ridge camp tonight, but the weather conditions took their toll and they ended up this evening setting up camp halfway down the Crean Glacier.

The Crean Glacier, South Georgia.Photo courtesy Michael Graber

Skip said they were all pretty tired, but in good spirits, and well settled in for the night. The forecast (for what it’s worth) is good for the next 48hrs so let’s hope they can make better progress tomorrow.  I will update you when I know more.”

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