7 January, 2013

We have take off!

Categorised under:
Alastair Lee, Athlete Blogs and News, Jason Pickles, Leo Houlding, Ulvetanna

We have take off!

Location: Mavericks, Ulvetanna Base Camp, S 71 49.146′, E 008 21.867′

Temperature: 5 C, clear, sunny and beautiful, 0 knots.

Date: 4/1/13 (David’s Birthday)

We have take off

Over the past few days, the boys have been missioning up multiple loads to ABC (Advanced Base Camp aka. Dungeons). Now this might be an average day for some, but for those of you that are not accustomed to sledging hundreds of kilos across the snow, double loading 45kg backpacks straight up a 45deg inclines several hundred feet up, dealing with knee deep snow and then traversing along a pretty exposed rock cliff, being confronted by the world’s most amazing rock scramble which on a normal day is FUN but when carrying such heavy loads it all becomes a pretty spicy and exhausting experience.

Did I mention Double Loading, that means doing the trip twice in a day…for 5 days! THESE GUYS are like machines! I only ever see them drinking coffee and treating themselves to the occasional handful of nuts, so I really don’t know how they get their energy!

Relaxing at Ulvetanna advanced base camp

Now that the majority of the near 1500kg of kit that we originally brought has been hauled up to ABC, the boys have set themselves onto pimping up Dungeons. Firstly, ABC. WOW! what a view! We have 3 tents, a massive balancing boulder (the size of a couple African Elephants playing twister) and a pimped out Cave that has been carved into the side of a snow ridge, taking nearly 6 hours to complete the cave can just about fit 4 people but it did take more out of the guys than they originally thought… The snow was super hard so shovels didn’t work.

Leo Houlding and Sean Stanley Leary in Ulvetanna snow cave

It was like coal mining. But all worth it in the end. The cave is amazingly sheltered and has this beautiful blue colour and combined with the hundreds of facets scored into the icy snow by the saw, and the shiny surfaces resulting from breathing and water boil sessions inside the cave, it makes you feel like you have entered into a magical crystal dungeon, with a massive bench, a work table, shelf space, lined with sheep skin furs and a vent hole/ sky light with shafts of warm light entering this mythical world of blueness….ahh.. amazing! Did I mention those 4ft tall would find access into the cave easier than most.

Chris Rabone in ulvetanna snow cave

SO… the news you have all been waiting for! The Climb! Yes finally after all this prep work, one day of rest, the guys have started the first few pitches.

Leo Houlding climbing Ulvetanna

All free climbing as far as I know. Leo started off with this amazing series of crack systems, Stanley climbed the second pitch which was an absolutely horrible off-width crack system. I watched most of Stanley’s wedging and wriggling through the 600mm lens that we brought with for filming… From my end it looked like a complete suffer fest of a pitch.   Leo continued with another Pitch which I didn’t witness much of as Chris and I came back to base camp for some battery charging and data backup. We discussed their move of getting in one more pitch despite the setting sun and thought that the boys would be pretty chuffed with themselves for completing the majority of the pillar leading up to the main ridge.

It was only earlier today that I heard that the guys had a bit of a spanking and needed a rest day today. Stanley apparently lost some skin during that off-width from hell. Today Leo has been frantically looking for a photo of the mountain with a less threatening perspective to motivate himself for the upcoming scariness that he realises they are about to face. Generally all pretty knackered.

Leo Houlding and Sean Stanley Leary climbing Ulvetanna

Chris has left base camp to join the others up in ABC. Their plan tomorrow is to complete the first part leading up to the ridge. Al will be filming Stanley and doing his magic on the end of the rope tomorrow while the others make a start at fixing lines up that massive ridge and prepare for an exhausting haul/ load ferrying mission.

Dave Reeves at Ulvetanna advanced base camp

I will be joining them tomorrow in ABC meaning the 600mm lens. Right now, I am having to deal with a solar power system that is on the brink of death. Having 6 Large capacity batteries 2 weeks ago and now left with 2 it is getting pretty spicy my side. Seems like that recall we heard about the day we flew out to Antarctica had merit. So if the Blog Entries start slowing down, you know the reason.

David Reeves

Cameraman/grip

Berghaus Store

For outdoor clothing from Berghaus including men’s waterproof jacketswomen’s rucksacks and more then please visit our online store.
You can find a wide range of gear for climbinghill walkingmountain biking and other activities.

(18) Comments

Have your opinion? Have your say…

  1. Some great images with an account of amazing progress in a hostile environment. All good wishes for continued success. Awesome job by all team members.

    Amanda

  2. Hi All, Reading your latest blog in class.We have a mini Leo and Stanley climbing up our own Ulvetanna in the hall. Sending best wishes and good luck. :)

    Year 4 Windermere School

  3. Thoroughly enjoying following you guys. So wish I was out there! Keith P and I spent 4 weeks in such a cave on the Vatnajojull for a month’s climbing way back in our early 20’s. Brought back fond memories seeing your pics. Weather looks awaesome and hope the temps are staying reasonable for you. Keep battling, and beautiful photos guys!! Paul

    Paul W (Tangent)

  4. PS. Dave – tell Leo and the team that I’ve recently discovered an even better new objective than Mirror Wall in Renland (Greenland). Unclimbed and un-named. Cheers, P

    Paul W (Tangent)

  5. Great meeting you this summer and wishing you all well on this fantastic adventure. Mr Pickles, I guess you have some making up missing your first Xmas as Mr and Mrs!?

    Jason Lock

  6. All good luck on Ulvetana Leo and guys. Looks effing amazing. Cheers from Paul Pritch in Tasmania…

    Paul Pritchard

  7. I know its a bit late but happy birthday Dave!

    Dave Clark

  8. David! Just found this blog. Been thinking about this adventure every day. Told my scouts that I currently have scouty friends on every continent – they were disbelieving at first and then totally in awe! You’re a big inspiration, as always. Wishing all the team well!

    Claire Mollart


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Location: Mavericks, Ulvetanna Base Camp, S 71 49.146′, E 008 21.867′
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