Vinson 6 long way home:
We now have to pack high camp and descend all of the way from high camp down the wall with big loads pick up sleds and gear at low camp and pull everything to Vinson base camp. Coming down the head wall the two members with frozen fingers are not clipped to the rope we are belaying them down which adds to the work. We finally make it to the bottom of the 3000ft wall and start the long walk first to low camp then basecamp where our climb will end and we will eventually meet our plane to union glacier.
Looking down from High camp at the path back to Basecamp
As painful as coming down the head wall was, the long walk to base camp was glorious. I was able to lead the group my sled was being held by from running into my legs on the down hill by Charles that was roped behind me and Mike was the last person that had to manage the sled in front and the one he was pulling a very hard job. Antarctica is one of the cleanest places in the world since it never gets above freezing even bacteria will not live, you don’t leave anything behind all trash and human waste is bagged and carried down to be carried out. Mike volunteered for the poop bag and was loaded in the front of his sled no one argued.
For the first time in days I could reflect and look around and relax. The sound of the sled behind me was all that I heard echoing in the valley. Cracking of the ice and snow under my feet was a common noise that I got use to. Crevasses were everywhere marked well with flags we jump across several on our way to BC. We are now roped together in 30 yard lengths that way if one person falls the two others will belay then rescue the climber in the crack. Another sunny day out of the wind into the direct sun looking across the vastness of the continent. I am inspired, my feet are blistered, back hurts and fatigue setting in but I want to just keep walking in the never ending sunlight.
The beauty of what was around me was breathtaking still see it in my sleep, but so was the danger the crevasse will suck you in at the first wrong step.
We make it to Base camp and the two climbers are immediately taken for treatment. Rob meets us and starts treating our team. He submerged their fingers into hot water for 45 minutes to first warm then wrap for the rest of the trip. They will not loose their fingers but the injury’s will take 6 months to fully heal. We set up our tents and wait for the next morning hopefully good weather and a flight out. The two teams left on high camp choose to remain one more night in the hope of better weather on top. Both teams coming down with frost bite and a forecast of warmer summit temps they spend one more night at hight camp.
Valentin getting treated for frost bite
Lesson to grandkids:
Beauty is everywhere, you just need to look up. Use the beauty around you to mask the ugly. Grab the rose, but don’t forget about the thorns.