Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Mark and Andy do Carvajal !!

A couple of weeks ago , myself and Mark Gorin headed out for what was to be my second and final winter trip of the year. For this trip i had only one expectation and that was to visit Carvajal base at the Southern most tip of the island. With the inconsistent weather that we had been having we decided to set off a day early in order to guarantee traveling the 80Km in a single day and also getting through the notorious McCallams Pass which you need good weather and contrast to do.

When traveling by skidoo across the Glacier you always have to be linked together. You also have to carry loads of unnecessary gear aswell and this is all packed onto two sledges which we towed behind each skidoo.

We had beautiful weather and saw some amazing scenery like this freshly fallen avalanche.

Everything was going good and we were making excellent time. We stopped for a bit of lunch and a drink about half way into our journey. Sitting pretty! Until !!

Disaster stuck as Mark's skidoo snapped a fan belt and ceased up. We admitted defeat and presumed that we would never make it to Carvajal and this was now a week in a tent! However as we had just finished putting up the tent i tried the engine and it had cooled down and un-ceased. We're in!! I fixed the fan belt, we took down the tent and we were on our way, again.

However we didn't get too far before something else happened. After a glance over my shoulder to check the sledge i happened to notice that we we in fact towing something else behind the sledge. Thats odd, i thought and quite sharply applied the brakes and signaled to Mark the field hand signal for, 'Shit, we've lost a tent'. If your wondering how this signal looks it involved me putting my head in my hands! Anyway we had indeed lost our poo tent but still had our main Pyramid tent so we decided that we may as well carry on to Carvajal and no doubt we would pick it up on the way back in a day or two as we expected good weather and our tracks were marked by GPS coordinates.

We finally made it to Carvajal without loosing another item. This is me on top of an old Twin Otter plane which crashed at the base years ago.

There were lots of old fuel barrels lying around which we quite un sightly.

I managed to get on of the bases old Alpine two Skidoos running so thought it would be good to give it a run up the hill to the plane.

Carvajal was the first base in which BAS built on Adelaide Island. It now belongs to the Chileans.
The buildings are very cold inside and are pretty rotten. The Chileans don't actively run the base but do visit once every couple of years just to keep their claim to land in the Antarctic.

Anyway we soon got board of the base and decided to make a move home and maybe do some climbing on the way back. However this didn't happen as Mark's skidoo suffered a massive heart attack and i had to perform open heart surgery. Well basically we were now confined to a pyramid tent until someone else brought us a new engine!! At this point we hadn't found our poo tent either and we suffered winds of up to 50 knots. I won't go into detail, but number 1's & 2's had to be taken outside in blowing snow and temperatures of down to - 15 !!

We now had 3-4 days lie up ahead of us as bad weather had closed in. The i-pods battery's were running low fast so the solar panel came out! Just hang it up and it charges the battery's! Sounds so easy doesn't it! However yet another thing we had broken and we attempted to fix it. A broken wire was found and bodged back together. Were in business and the tunes were once again flowing!

Finally a beautiful day so we packed up and just had to wait for another group of winter trippers to turn up with our new engine. So we waited...........and waited....................and waited.................
We just couldn't understand where an earth they had got to and then we heard on the HF radio that they had slept in and were running late!!! My face, NOT impressed!!!

This was me looking for my sense of humor!

Eventually the new engine turned up at 3pm. I fitted it in record time, we loaded the sledges, got on our skidoos and i said to mark 'drive it like you've stole it'.
We put the pedal to the metal and we managed to get home safely before it got dark for some hot dinner and an even hotter shower. With all the things that went wrong it was the most enjoyable trip I've been on so far and myself and Mark had a lot of fun and laughter.