What do you do in Antarctica when you want to kill time? You eat, sleep, read, play games, write in your journal and … do first ascents. Not a bad program, is it?
After a great breakfast of French toast and a beautiful lunch, I headed out with Nick, Victor’s client, to do one more line on the north face of Mount Russman. It takes about 30 minutes down the now well-travelled ski track to the base of the face. There, we trade skis for crampons and poles for ice aces. Victor followed behind with the Union Glacier camp head chef, Gavin.
Today’s line was a mix of steep snow and steeper ice with wild mushroom formations stacked on top of each other. The climbing was smooth, and we moved quickly through this untouched terrain. As we neared the top, huge cornices were towering overhead and the terrain was steeper than what it had seemed like from the bottom. We topped out two hours after leaving our skis. We radioed in to camp to notify them of our success on the route and to let them know that we were headed straight back to camp. It’s a requirement that we communicate with camp on a regular basis while out in the field.
This was Gavin’s first “first ascent,” just like it had been for Richard Parks a few days ago. So, he got to name the route. He offered a few names, but the one that stuck was “Route du Jour.” It was a perfect fit for a chef and also because this is really what it is like: We wake up in the morning and wonder which route is going to get plummed that day, much like a chef decides on what menu he is going to prepare.
We just got news that we are likely not flying tomorrow night. So, there might be more “Route du Jour” to come!
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