Monday, October 21, 2013

Standing by to Stand by

By Larry Sunday Oct 20 King Haakon Bay, SG

It blew 35-50 knots all day yesterday. The boat was heeling 20 degrees just from the windage. We had planned to carry most of our gear up to the snow line about 600 ft above sea level. But it blew so hard, it wasn't worth even launching the zodiac. Even though we were anchored behind an small set of rocks, there were plenty of waves and the boat was sailing on the anchoring, back and forth. Sitting in the pilot house, we got a great view of all the peaks around us and the glacier fronts falling to the sea. Friday night before the wind came up, I wish I had a recorder as it was amazing to hear the elephant seals grunting and calling all night long ½ a mile away on the beach. We went to the beach and walked around for an hour. About 160 elephant seals all hanging out on the beach in one spot on the beach. There are at least 4 of these groups on this beach and others along the bay. Probably a few thousand in all. Mostly females with pups and one bull. The pups breast feed for about 22 days and then are on their own.

This morning it was quiet and we got the zodiac in the water early and carried all the sleds, skis, sled bags, food, tents and outer boots to the snow line. It took a couple trips to do so, but now all that's left is to carry our packs up and put on our skis and go. We have the skins on the skis so we're ready to climb up the first snowfield called the Shackleton Gap. We'll climb from 300 ft where are gear is now to 2200 ft during the day and hoping to pitch our camp at the Trident Gap just below Trident Peak (4,200 ft). Our weather forecast shows a break in the wind at 6z (GMT). Sunrise is at 7:30z, so we'll probably get going as early as possible in the dark to take advantage of the small break. This break will likely only last about 3 hours so we'll have pretty strong winds and white-out conditions once we get to the Murray Snowfield at 1500 ft. Let's hope the GPS's are working…


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