I’m currently parked on the Ford Ice Piedmont, just under 12km from the bottom of the Wujek Ridge, the steep climb that will take me up through the Forrestal Range, the Pensacola Mountains and then up again to the Antarctic Plateau, which averages around 2,500m above sea level. I climbed 260 vertical metres today, so the uphill section has started. The weather was fantastic again, the only downside being the sneaking feeling that I’m on borrowed time, and that the wind and the blizzard are counting down for their return.
I’ll ski the 12km to the Wujek Ridge tomorrow and camp early so I can rest for the afternoon – and repack my sledge and make a few running repairs – before starting the climb with fresh legs the next day.
The mountains of the Dufek Massif have slowly come into focus over the past two days and now (despite the impression my terrible selfie gives) appear quiet close. They’re stunning too, and there’s always something particularly precious about a view like this that’s been earned, in my case with each laboured slow turn of the focus ring. They also – it struck me today – must have looked pretty much like this since before the dawn of humanity. I’ve seen nothing man-made and nothing living for ten days now, and as I slide my skis further away from civilisation, there’s something about the scale and the imperious majesty of this place that puts humanity into a unique perspective.
“Is Brexit still happening?” I jabbered at Pip on the satellite phone this evening. “I’m not telling you any news”, she said. “And besides, do you honestly miss it?” I decided I didn’t.