Category Archives: skiing

Winter

Antarctica doesn’t really have an Autumn perhaps because there’s no trees.  Or maybe its just a British Antarctic Survey thing where you go straight from the Summer season to the winter one just to simplify things.  With twenty one of us left on base and the last ship gone a few weeks ago we are very much into our winter at Rothera.  This means shorter working hours (theres now only 1.5hours between meals instead of 2) rapidly decreasing daylight and of course winter trips.  All staff who winter get two weeks off base away on a winter trip.  These trips are a combination of a chance to get a break from life on base (and for others to get a break from you!), learn new skills and get the “real” Antarctic experience.  With four field assistant at Rothera two of us head out roughly every two weeks with another person in tow somewhere on Adelaide island.IMG_0609

 Octavian on the summit of Trident peak on the first day our winter trip.  Options for winter trips include Mountaineering, Climbing, Skiing and Snowboarding, Crevasse exploring, Skidoo sightseeing trips and drinking tea (or whisky) in the tent.IMG_0686

Enjoying a cup of tea in his hammock.  Rothera is almost visible over the left edge of the Hammock.  You don’t have to get far away from base to feel pretty remote.  IMG_0695

Skidoos leaving camp.  Skidooing outside of the Rothera flagline involves being linked up just in case one goes into a crevasse.  You can just make out the rope coming from the back skidoo.  The sledge between the skidoos carries the emergency gear and pretty much goes everywhere with you.  Basically enough food, fuel and kit to spend three weeks fixing your skidoos.

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Stunning views North after some easy mountaineering in the Stokes peaks.

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As there is always two trips out at the same time its great to camp together and go visit the other tent in the evening.  Or in this case follow in the other parties footsteps all day and not have to break trail.  Octavian and Ben looking happy with their day in the Stokes.

IMG_0709My second trip was with Saz.  Despite being stuck in the tent for a couple of days we got quite a bit of climbing and mountaineering done.  Saz below “Spiritual Harmony” on Trident peak (the curving gully on the left)

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Milky way over the tent at night.  There some amazing photography opportunities if you and your camera can face the cold.  This took me a while to get right as it was pretty cold and I had had a couple of glasses of Port. IMG_0743The tents are really comfortable especially with both the stove and tilley lamp going.  Saz making Chocolate fondu as dessert after a cheese fondue for our main course.  Saz and I had decided when we wrote the proposal for her trip that photography and food were going to be a priority, we ended up with a huge amount of cheese and chocolate, pizza, pancakes, full brunch with homemade tattie scones and a fair bit of booze

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Skidoos under the edge of N26 Nunatak.  Saz and I headed here to snowboard in the big bowl in the middle of the photo.  Our skidoos had struggled to get this far so at least we knew there was lots of deep powder to fall into.IMG_0767

Feeling pretty happy to have survived one of my few snowboard runs in the last few years

IMG_0782Crevasse exploring is always pretty popular.  Stunning and beautiful for the winter tripper and a bit stressful for the Field Assistant.  Saz abseiling into the second chamber of a crevasse we found.  I was standing on a very hollow sounding floor at this point so we didn’t stay long.

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Drying clothes inside the tent at the end of the day.  All that stuff hanging in the roof is hopefully going to be dry by the morning!  You can also make out the speaker (small red thing in the centre) for the music, the jar of Marmite (standard BAS issue) and a bottle of Dalwhinnie 15yr old.

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Winterers can also choose to go “Man-Hauling” – basically skiing and pulling pulks rather than using ski-doos.  I went to pick up Al and Lewis from a manhauling trip last week and took my big lens to get some shots of them steaming to the end.

IMG_0960When not on winter trips theres still plenty of fun to be had near to Rothera.  The Ski-in, Ski-out accommodation helps.  Al loading a skidoo for another quick mission outside the accommodation building.

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Scoping out another ski line

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The sea ice was also forming last week so we did a couple of training sessions on how to assess it for safe travel.  Dave showing the dive team what to do on the first day that the sea ice was thick enough.  Personally I think the idea of travelling any distance on sea ice is pretty crazy but it is a necessity for the dive team who still have sciencey stuff to do throughout the winter (and who have to dive under the ice!)

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Skiing out on the sea ice surrounded by icebergs.  The ice has to be 20cm thick to travel on.  The bindings on the skis are just bendy plastic that strap onto insulated work boots.

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John testing the waters. You might be able to spot how we cut the hole in the ice.

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Theres been some clear nights in the last couple of weeks so its been great to be outside with a camera.  The full moon has been spoiling it somewhat though I spent a great evening with John, Tom and Adam at the cross taking surreal photos.  Above – John (meteorologist), Tom (Doctor) and Myself admiring the view.
IMG_2489The weather doesnt always play ball!  Above – Hector topping out of a mixed route in the spindrift having experienced hotaches for the first time on a day when we thought there would be no wind.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Antarctica, British Antarctic Survey, Climbing, Climbing Antarctica, Field Assistant, Field Assistant Antarctica, Long Exposure, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |

Summers coming

Just finished my first 22day raft/mountain course of the year. Oregon has been desperately hanging onto spring with lots of snow in the mountains and the river still high. The first week on the river was made even better by Benny Kaiser coming over from Australia and coming on the river with me for a couple of days and then me getting to instruct for a couple of days. I then decided to take my skis into the first section of the mountains (yes – for work!). I only had to carry them for the first mile and the last two of 5 days and got to ski all over the Sisters Wilderness. Summer is finally here though, right in time for my 1.5 days off between two 25 day blocks of work. 1.5 days of climbing at Smith trying to avoid the heat interspersed with lots of good food and drink. Now back to work.

Benny perfecting his baking while employed as my personal chef (meaning I had even less to do than normal on the river)

Probably my favourite shot so far with the fisheye lens – Nadia, Drew and I on the gear boat on the lower Deschutes
Watching the sunset from the Cheat Grass on the Lower Deschutes.
Evening circle on the river.
My canp on the NW ridge of Broken top waiting to get some sunset shots of the Sisters
One of the shots.

Another Fisheye shot. Trevor, Erin and Bri playing farkle (yes that s a game) in their tent at night. 22min exposure.
A cool bug a student gave me at course end.
The day off – Ashley leading in the shade at Smith.

Also posted in Deschutes river, Long Exposure, Sisters Wilderness, Star Trails

Multi Tasking

After a quick afternoon skiing with Mike Mourar and Steve Baume I left our base for a week with my van packed with Skis, Mountaineering gear and a full Kayaking set-up. I started with a three day Swiftwater Rescue Technician Course at wet planet on the White Salmon River in Washington and followed it up with an ascent of the Reid Glacier Headwall route on Mt Hood with Trevor (descending via the south side) followed by running the White and West fork of the Hood Rivers with Mike Mourar and then two days safety kayaking for the Assistant Instructor Training course on the White Salmon. It was great, if a little tiring, trying to tag so many things back to back but definitely made the most of the conditions available.
Reid Glacier Headwall – Ski up till level with illumination saddle, drop skis and traverse to saddle. Rope up, descend onto Reid Glacier then head up up up trying not to be scared when the 4 pickets and 2 ice screws didnt seem to be enough. Descend via south Side to skis, ski (badly) back to vehicles.
White River – A long off road drive (my van is rear wheel drive) to the start of the river. Pray that said van will make it out, leave in the morning and the van makes it out, decide to use mountain bike for shuttle instead.
West Fork of the Hood – Only a short section of river but ran after the White making a very full whitewater day. Feel ready for the White Salmon
White Salmon – put in at 820am to recon river for staff training, 7 miles takes 45 mins, realise that the river is a little high. Run it three times in the next 2 days.
The Week – Highly Succesfull but am now very tired

Trevor (approx 7am) high on the Reid headwall after the main difficulties (a steep ice pitch) were passed.
Trevor leading out below some serious rime ice on the Reid Headwall
Oregon Road, still learning how to use the new fish eye lens – taken on a few hours drive around Northern Oregon with Mike trying to see what rivers where actually “up”
Trevor leading through the final technical section – a rime ice tunnel on very unconsolidated hard wind slab snow.
Loading my van for the portage on the white salmon (definitely making my daily wage as it reduced my fuel efficiency to 8mpg)
The bottom hole of “Maytag” (Class 3) on the White Salmon – the first 2 miles was essentially survival paddling after this rapid as the boats were so full of water.
Skiing Tumalo Mtn with Mourar and Baume – Mourar drops in to a couple of inches of powder with his usual flair.
Anyone whos ski-ed with me should be able to guess which line is mine (clue – Mike Mourar teaches kids how to shred in the back country)
Trevor and I loving it high on the Reid Face – we summited at 930am, grabbed our skis (stashed on the south side) and ski-ed back to our vehicles in a 10.5hr round trip) it was blizzarding within the hour.
Mike Mourar and I pleased with ourselves after a rather full on off road drive down to the put-in for the white river – 12 miles of constant class 3+ with the odd 4.

I only have a couple more days off before our “All Staff” Training – possibly some time for more climbing at Smith Rock
Also posted in Mt hood, Reid glacier headwall, White River, White salmon

Mount Jefferson

So I am working right now but here are some photos from my time off. Lots of climbing, relaxing, coffee drinking and an attempt on Mount Jefferson by the Park Glacier Route. Steve, Amber and I skiied in from as far up the Whitewater Trailhead road as possible up to a high camp at around 6000ft. The weather was amazing but surprisingly (and worryingly) warm. We got up the next day and left camp at 5am, only to see the clouds roll in and drop our visibility to around 30ft (I couldn’t really see steve on the other end of the rope team). We tried to go upwards through some steep crevassed terrain and poor weather until we could go no further at 10,000ft (the summit is 490ft higher). We got back to our skis and headed to camp, packed out and got out of there. A long day but a fun one with the only thing missing actually getting to the top.

Steve and Amber at our camp
A slightly random shot with my new fisheye lens – taken on the deck of the staff lodge.
Night view of our camp
Packing up as fast as possible. We made it to the trail head at 7pm after some survival skiing with large packs through the trees.
Sunset from camp. As soon as this weather clears up another attempt might be in order.

Also posted in Mt Jefferson, Park Glacier route

The Unblelievable (Part 2)

Canoeing, it would seem, was not the best idea considering the weather for this new year period. We did pack and set off (in the cars at least) but a few phone calls and a look at a very icy loch confirmed that skiing was a better option. After a day at Glenshee and I nice warm night in a bunkhouse we skied up the valley from the linn of dee to Bob Scotts hut were we were met by some rude drunk Aberdonians (one boy drank 3 bottles of red wine in three hours and then did not appear to be able to talk – this said Aberdonians are hard to understand at the best of times!) – hard to see beautiful places full of rude idiots. The next day Clare, Bob and Robin headed down the valley and off to Hogmanay at Tummel and Rich (the dirty one), Lucy and I continued up to the ice cave (otherwise known as Hutchinsons hut). We were treated to clear skies, lots of snow and an empty hut. The next day we slept till 8am having not woken up for the bells but still managed the deep slog out to the cars in daylight.

The final straw – loch laggan frozen up (looking west)
Bob “the mountain man” taylor (he grew his beard just for the photos) slogging up after I forgot to bring his skins down.
Clare and Rich in the dry, warm kitchen of the bunkhouse the night before we set off
Looking up the valley – the hutchinson hut is in the furthest back coire on the left.
Trying to find a place to cross the river – beautiful wind blown snow in the valley.
Rich cools his bum off after some hard uphill slogging
From L to R – Me, Lucy and Rich almost up to Hutchisons hut
Rich in the ice cave – ice covered the walls of the hut inside and out – note the gas cylinder on top of the stove to help it along.
Rich and Lucy outside the hut on Hogmanay. This was taken at about 9pm just before bed!
Messing around in clear evening – I have been told to point out that I am writing a name – yes, a name. the squiggle below the A is where i fell over – oops i gave it away!
A panorama looking up the valley on the ski in to hutchinsons.

Unfortunately I have no photos of the epic ski out in up to waist deep powder. Hard work but hilarious as we all spent time stuggling and disappearing into drifts. By the time we hit the “easy bit” Rich and I were spent – just in time for Lucy to get a burst of energy to get us down the last 4 km. A great Hogmanay.
Also posted in bothy, hogmanay, scotland