Thursday, April 22

Day 9 – Depot – Penitentes – ABC

Yep the weather cleared,what a shame for the 20cm of new snow on the route. Pack my load including some long bamboo stakes (used to secure the tent in the snow – short stakes no good, and no rocks around) and commence working my way through the Penitentes. Although it has snowed, a previous group had already marked the general direction with wands. I can also still vaguely see some boot markings in the snow so I'm not completely finding the way through the icy maze.

Although I have done this in the past (2006, 2007) it is still an amazing experience. Clambering around these tall icy pyramids, with heavy boots, crampons, large backpack and long bamboo sticks all add to the experience. Some sections require you to down (or up) climb 4m vertical sections. This would be fine in normal ice climbing, but with all the malarkey of above and only one ice axe, it gets a little more interesting. With the new snow small frozen lakes are hidden, which sometimes can hold your weight, other times not! They are not deep, but a drenched boot is not ideal in this environment, especially later in camp when you are trying to dry/warm it/them up!

In the Penitentes

Italians coming down from C1

It's about a one hours “trip”. I eventually encounter a team of Italians who are returning from a night at Camp I. They have come down a direct route and one not really scouring out for crevasses They advise me not to go up the same way and I have little choice but to heed their warning. A more important factor is that any new snow requires more energy when ascending. I'm not ready for that yet – perhaps 2 to 3 hours but not 5 to 6 as what is required to get to Camp I from the Penitentes. I end up stashing all that is required for a night at Camp I in hopefully a safe place – worried about the wind, and return back over the penitentes with an empty pack – 45 minutes and dry feet! Thereafter a quick stop at Depo and make my way back to ABC for a hot shower and a 500g fillet steak – ha ha

See below for some of the fantastic views

Looking back to Depot Camp

Some are mighty high!

Scott & Nicole on their way to Camp I - exiting Penitentes

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