Life in the deep freeze

14 11 2012

Leo reflects on training in Greenland

heavy snow in antarctica

Before Leo’s team take a single vertical step in Antarctica, with temperatures often sinking to minus 50 degrees Celsius, and winds that can reach 100mph, they’ll have their work cut out just to stay alive. ‘The rudimentary basics take a massive amount of time out of every day,’ Leo says. ‘However mild the weather, you have to pitch your tent as though you’ll be pinned in a storm for a week, as conditions can change in a heartbeat. This means digging in snow valances and building a snow block wall to deflect wind.’

Having 24-hour daylight means that sleeping masks are a must, and everything that mustn’t freeze has to join the climbers overnight in their sleeping bags – boots, inners, hats, gloves, water bottles, batteries. ‘Even your pee bottle,’ says Leo, ‘or you won’t be able to empty it and might have to boil it up with your morning brew, as my tent-mate Jason did several times in Greenland. Not pleasant.’

Consistently sub-zero temperatures mean that all water must be sourced by melting snow or ice, and a daily, per-head ration of five litres for drinking and cooking equates to around four hours manning MSR® stoves. ‘Because huge stretches of Ulvetanna are dead vertical, much of the time there won’t be any snow to collect as we climb,’ says Leo. ‘So we’ll have to melt enough snow at base camp to fill a 120-litre barrel which we’ll haul up behind us, chipping ice out of it with ice axes every time we cook or make a cup of coffee in wall camp.’

Find out more about Leo Houlding’s Ulvetanna expedition.

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  • Nigel Williams

    Hi Leo.

    Just wishing you and the team the best of luck.

  • Year 4 Windermere Prep School

    Hi Leo
    We have just walked up Orrest Head and pointed south to Antarctica and we heard the presentations that our classmates gave to you yesterday. We are very excited about your expedition. Have you packed our flags yet?
    From Year 4 Windermere Prep School

  • Eleanor Snape Windermere Prep school

    Hi Leo

    Thank You for the great day at the Chill Factor I had so much fun good look in Antarctica.

  • Paul Walker (Tangent Expeditions)

    Hope all that training we did with you in Greenland pays off. Have a good one!

  • harvie winstanley

    Leo have a great Christmas and a happy new year and i hope you enjoy your adventure up the ulvetanna i wish you the very best.

  • Ben Pearce

    Leo and the team , good luck on your climb and I hope you succeed also, a merry Christmas to you and your team !

    Westfield community school

  • Daniel Masson, Westfield community school

    Hope you succeed and have an amazing Christmas with your brave crew!!!!!

  • courtney coleman westfiled community school

    hi leo,

    just sending you happy christmas and a happy new year. hope the last big climb goes well !!

  • Linda

    Hi
    Loving your blog keep smiling

  • mike campbell

    Hi leo good luck and happy new year.Mikexx