Vinson Massif: Post 4

An extra day of rest at low camp and we are already looking at summit forecasts. We unpack sleds and load big heavy pack of around 50 lbs that we will carry to high camp with enough supplies to last us until we have good weather. There is a 3,000ft vertical head wall and fixed ropes that we will have to negotiate. I have good jumar skills from Everest and looking forward to the day.
Low camp with the head wall coming into view
Next day: End of the move to high camp. I am shot from the load and my shoulders are bad. The never ending sunlight. We can climb anytime and leave late and don’t get to camp till after 10pm. I don’t eat all day and my water freezes on the way up. 7 hours of very hard work and no fuel adds to my exhaustion. A big confidence crusher, did I train correctly? Did I overlook the difficulty of this task? I know better than to neglect my hydration and food on big days. Fortunately we have a good weather window and a planned rest day to recover for our summit push. A very poor performance for my level of experience. I can’t afford mistakes going forward.
Preparing our loads for the 3000 ft vertical head wall
Going up the head wall
Finally the top of the wall
To compound my bad day after I make it to the top of the head wall we stop to take off jumar and safety and get water (mine is a block of ice). I sit on my bag without noticing my ice axe point up. It rips a 6in gash in my hard shell pants, through my warm felt tights into my butt cutting a deep gash right where I meet the toilet seat. The skin will heal but not the clothes. I hope they make it with a field repair of duck tape and glue. Unfortunately I didn’t get a butt shot, but got a picture of the toilet with a view, is the next best thing.
I had to get 2 shots of the bathroom my most commonly ask questions when I speak to students, even more than penguins I will be ready.
We now are 3 per tent. Myself, Mike F and Charles are enjoying each other’s company. Small tent for melting water and cooking. We will leave early tomorrow. Weather forecast is OK cold -33 with 15/20 k wind will push wind chill even lower.
Finally reach high camp with holes in my pants, tights, butt, and confidence
Lesson to grandkids:
You will always have bad days, some are worst than others. If you have the ability to change things do it, take control, look for the bright spots of even the bad days. If you can accept the fact that is just a bad day without feeling sorry for yourself, identify what you did right or wrong to affect the outcome, then don’t beat yourself up and tomorrow will be better.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Yikes! Sorry about the pick in the pants. Yes, that wold be a bad day on Antarctica. Sounds like your reflections made you more determined, rather than defeated.

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