Another hold-up for the Shackleton Epic mountaineers

Mountaineers sheltering near the Tridents on South Georgia

Sunday February 10th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Continuing bad weather and poor visibility forced another halt to the Shackleton Epic expedition overnight local time with Tim Jarvis, Baz Gray and Paul Larsen stopping to shelter near the ‘Tridents’, three jagged mountain peaks above Shackleton’s Gap.

Larsen had rejoined his fellow expeditioners earlier in the day to provide support to Jarvis and Gray who are continuing their journey wearing clothing similar to that worn by Shackleton and his men a century ago.

At the last radio sked at 06.30 GMT, the climbing team reported that they well and had resumed trekking at daylight after a five hour break to eat and rest as another storm front moved through. They are now heading across the Crean Glacier towards the ‘Pink Line’ – the sector line on the map which indicates the halfway point in their trek.

It should take the team approximately five hours to make it over the Crean Glacier before tackling the Fortuna Glacier and the ‘blue line’ sector on their map.

They estimate that if the weather holds, they could finish the climb and trek to the old whaling station at Stromness within 24 hours (on 11 February GMT). The weather forecast for later today is for rain and winds out of the west gusting at 22 knots (at sea level) and higher on the peaks.

The expedition’s goal was to be the first to authentically re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary ‘double’ journey 800nm across the Southern Ocean; and then the climb across South Georgia’s mountainous interior. Extreme weather experienced on the first night of the climb forced Jarvis and Gray to use a tent and sleeping bags to shelter from 45knot+ winds and driving snow at the top of Shackleton’s Gap. Their survival depended on using this modern equipment. Despite this, they are continuing their trek in original clothing and with minimal support.

At a similar stage in the journey, Shackleton, in his book South wrote: “There was no way around the shoreline owing to steep cliffs and glaciers. .....The slope became precipitous, and we had to cut steps as we advanced. For this purpose the adze proved an excellent instrument . At last I stood upon the razor-back, while the other men held the rope and waited for news. The outlook was disappointing. I looked down a sheer precipice to a chaos of crumpled ice 1,500 feet below. There was no way down for us......The ridge was studded with peaks, which prevented us from getting a clear view either to the right or left, and I had to decide that our course lay back the way which we had come. It was of the utmost importance for us to get down into the next valley before dark. We were up 4,500 feet and the night temperature at that elevation would be very low.”

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