B B B BLAST OFF!

16 01 2013

The big day arrives...

ulvetanna antarctica, long ridge

Location: Mavericks, Ulvetanna Base Camp, S 71 49.146′, E 008 21.867′
Temperature: 10 deg C, clear, high level clouds, Sunny 15 knots.
Date: 14/1/13

So the big day arrives and I am on Coffee duty, Alarm set for 6am. Coffee Pot is on the boil and the boys where all woken up with a nice steamy hot brew. Everyone finally emerges out of their tents around 9am… no comment! ;-) Already we had lost one spork, in fact it was Leo’s Spork strangely enough. He was marching around ABC frantically searching for it before his porridge went completely cold.

Departure time: 11h00

The boys set off with absolutely massive loads (despite having done 2 hauls earlier) stumbling with the occasional face planting under the weight of the bag and the unstable snow. The route up to the base of the wall is pretty steep as I have mentioned in a previous post.  Most of the loads where carried on their backs one by one up the rope. Took a while for all 5 of them to get up. Next were the haul bags (or Sheep Smugglers as I like to call them.) they were pulled up the slope with a pulley system with both Jason and Chris acting as counterweight, running up and down the hill in short bursts , slowly edging the kit up the slope.  The boys only started jugging on the rock by 13h00. Al was first to go up to get into position to do a bit of filming, Stanley was next, followed by Jason, Chris and then Leo.

I filmed as much as I could before I started noticing the steep area I was filming from was starting to avalanche. It was incredibly hot in this “snow bowl” and as the day moved on, more and more snow rivers started trickling down. Slightly scary when a 5 meter wide path of snow slowly started moving directly towards me with a massive wall of snow 50 meters above you just sitting there.  Got to get out of there fast!

Throughout the day I heard them shouting to each other, spread hundreds of meters apart along the rock face. The occasional “ROCK”  being shouted out (that is when you don’t look up in case you get a face full of rock) I filmed some more from a different angle of the boys slightly higher up, ran out of memory on my camera so then headed off back to Base Camp. In fact I was planning to stay in ABC, but the boys pinched all the fuel bottles and one of the MSR stoves so I couldn’t boil any water. Thanks for telling me guys!

Around 18h30 I radioed in to tell the boys the wind had picked up loads and to expect high winds on the ridge. (The ridge is only some 0,5m wide so wind is massively influential on the traverse) Al replied and said he had just arrived on the ridge and can confirm the stronger wind. His tone didn’t sound massively enthusiastic.

Next radio contact:

AL: I amon ledand putyF ooed.

Stanley: Can you repeat, are you on the ridge or the ledge? Over

Al: I am on the Ledge, L, E, D, G, E over.

Stanley: OK, we are one pitch from the ridge with the haul bags! Over.

AL: I wait here. I pretty F*&%cked!! (Spoken in a loud, slurred and fluctuating voice)

Wouldn’t expect anything less from someone who has just jugged up 500m of cliff face.

I have just received word at 13h30 today that the boys are all fine, they have just woken up and put a coffee on.

They only finished hauling in the early hours of this morning and after setting up portaledges and making dinner, everyone got to bed around 4am. They are all now be camped at the base of the headwall on the Ledge that has acquired the name “The Plateau of Great Expectations”

Today the boys are going to be relaxing. They had planned on doing some filming on the ridge, but they are only going to do that tomorrow. The day after, I suspect they might start climbing the Headwall, but more on that later.

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  • The Coops

    Good work on the blog David, it’s great to hear your progress. Enjoy your new-found peace & tranquility. You might even get to do some skiing now?!? Good luck and fair winds to all.

  • jack

    good look leo hope you have a good time

  • Ella N

    Hope your having a good time. Hopefully you don’t have any injuries :) We are doing a documentary play in drama and we need to find out some information so I was just wondering what injuries that you have had in the past?? Good luck in the rest of your journey :) x

  • Linda

    Hi Thinking of you all, take care Love Linda (Jason’s mum)

  • Daniel

    GO Leo!

  • Nigel Williams

    You are doing fantastic lads, keep it up
    As Confucius once said “It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop”

    Westfield year 6 are collectively at 700mtr and catching you up :)
    The weather here is colder than the Antartic at the moment

    keep climbing – keep blogging

    Nigel Williams (Westfield Community School)

  • keiran webster

    well done for getting this far how cold it it there

  • keiran webster

    i like your blog it is stunning

  • Thomas&Alex

    Hi Leo how are you doing? hope you’re ok.Do you thinck David will be ok on his own? can you Keep blogging to let us know how far up you are.

  • ella

    Hello leo and your team at school we are all excited to see are falg in antartica

  • Year 4 Windermere Prep School UK

    We have been timing how long it takes to melt snow then boil the water to make hot chocolate. When we just boiled water on our Trangia it took 15 mins and when we had to use snow it took 28 mins, so it took twice as long. We now understand how long it will take you to make a hot drink. We took lots of photos to show you.

  • Chris’s Mum&Dad

    I see they’ve sacked the chef and sent him up the ridge for penance! It’s cold here please bring some clothing back with you ;) well done lads keep going.

  • Trevor d

    sounds like the suffer fest is well underway grin and bear it it’ ‘ll be worth it.easy for me to say .Nothing but admiration for your fantastic effort guys it’s just brilliant being able to follow the trip with your blog well done Dave . Keep careful.

  • 8K, 8L & Mrs Gould at Dallam School

    Good luck Leo and the team with the final leg of your journey!
    We have some Snow Petrel facts for you: They eat fish, squid, krill, the remains of dead animals and plankton. They are one of only 3 birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica. They nest inland on rocks but need to return to the coast to feed. Don’t annoy them because they spit foul smelling, bright pink, oily, semi-digested krill mixed with oily stomach secretions as a defence mechanism!!
    We look forward to hearing all about your trip when you get back. Stay safe.

  • Year 4 Windermere School

    Hi Leo (again) Hope we’re not interrupting you whilst you climb!! We heard your investigation request today and have been hogging the library looking for info on Snow Petrels. They like to nest high up in cracks on the rockface like Ulvetanna, they are smaller than pigeons and they like to eat squid, fish,dead whales and seals! They bathe in the snow by doing summersaults! You are all doing so well, not long to go now. Well done on progress so far and for sharing your experiences with us.:-) love from Year4

  • Primary Teacher

    Sounds exhausting, enjoy the rest while you can!

  • Dave H

    I keep checking in Dave… glad to see it’s going well. Make sure you tell Al that Burnlet FC are out of the FA Cup but have found a bit of form in the league and are above Leeds United…. that’ll make him smile. Keep safe, stay brave. Love the blog. Dave (Shrewd Ape)

  • Dave H

    BURNLEY FC!

  • lyn murray

    Go for it Jason, lots of love from Hadrian’s Wall

  • Ben Pearce

    Leo,at school (westfield community school) we are all so EXTREMELY excited about your climb up the north east ridge of Ulvetanna we think you are doing massivly great also, at school we are attempting to climb up and down our school climbing wall to match the height of ulvetanna! keep it up ! :D

  • esther

    you are doing really WELL KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  • jack

    hope your having a great time:)

  • Alex C

    During your Antarctic expedidtion what was the hardest part for you and the team? How many hours a day are you climbing for and how much sleep do you get each night?bum

  • The Coops

    Hi Dave, how’s it going down there…summit in sight?? Hope all are well.
    Neil C

  • Izzy J

    Why did you go there? Was it for the experience or just because you wanted to do something different?

  • Annabell L

    Hi I go to dallam.did you go for the experience or for a chance to say you acheved it? Thank you and good luck

  • Stanley’s Family

    We’ve enjoyed your blogs, and have missed them this last week. I enjoy sharing them with the other teachers at lunch. Sean, I read them all to Grandma while showing her the pictures. I can’t say she was thrilled with your adventures and seeing you as a tiny speck on that massive rock, but she WAS fascinated! Please stay safe, all of you. “Stanley’s” Mom

  • Beth_and_LeaAnne13

    Hi Leo! We go to Dallam school, Good Luck!! Byee

  • Jessica

    hello leo,i go to matthew moss high school in rochdale,i have heard that you are visiting soon,we are all exited to see you,well done for all your successful climbs!…see you soon! :)

  • kyran

    hello leo,i go to matthew moss high school,we have heard that you are visiting us,we are all exited,,well done…bye

  • jessica

    hello leo,go to matthew moss high school in rochdale,i have heard that you are visiting soon,we are all exited to see you,well done for all your successful climbs!…see you soon! :)