Rapping and Crevasses

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The faster the ice flow, the steeper the terrain, the more numerous the crevasses. We are now at the fringe of a fast moving glacier (by Antarctica standards) and faced with numerous new hazards. Yesterday we set off on a journey to access our intended camp site area. After driving across a mile of blue ice, we abandoned the snowmobiles to “rap” (rappel) down a nearly vertical wind scoop of ice along a ridge separating two drainages. Descending a thousand feet down steep scree and crevassed blue ice, we arrived on yet another sea of blue ice, a tributary glacier to the Byrd. With the sun scalding us from above and below, we crossed the glacier to the crunch of crampons and collected large granite samples. Returning with 70 lb backpacks full of rocks, we hopped (as gingerly as possible with large packs on) across small crevasses, stumbled up the scree, and front pointed up the icy snow scoop with crampons and ice hammers. Staggering back into camp sweaty and thirsty, we gulped down lemonade for the first time since arriving on the ice and rapidly consumed Graham’s massive calzones.

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