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South Patagonia Icecap 2012

CommunityJames Hipkiss

Can Linda, Rob and Kerryn make it accross the South Patagonian Icecap? Beaten back by bad weather and challenging conditions on the first attempt they have changed tactics and are having another go.

If the team can gain access up the glacier and cross the 150 kms of mountainous icecap, descending a huge and vastly crevassed Jorge Montt glacier Linda will have succeeded in doing a crossing of each of the four major icecaps of the world. www.icecapjourneys.com.au The intended route is to depart El Chalten on November 5th, a small Argentinian town known to Patagonian trekkers and people aspiring to climb routes around the Mont Fitz Roy area. It will take several days to shift loads up onto the top of the Marconi Pass, an ascent that takes the team up the Marconi glacier past seracs and up steep icy slopes. The late spring weather provides long daylight hours but also the risk of katabatic winds which will halt all travel for the duration. Patagonia is not known as the windiest place in the world for nothing. Once on the pass the team can put down sleds to assist to carry 3 weeks worth of food and head in a north west direction for 150 kms.

The icecap is a vast undulating landscape nestled between mountains that are part of the Andes chain. The team will ski, roping up for much of the way in case of crevasses. While the distance is not huge a couple of weeks have been planned for the crossing as white out, wind storms and rain or snow are inevitable and no expedition has been able to cross without several days of waiting out untenable conditions.

The descent is along and down the vast Jorge Montt glacier, pitted and eroded by rain. The team needs to exit the glacier part way down and drop into a rocky valley to finally make it down to the fiords of the Baker river. On our previous attempt 9 days were required for this section. The team is made up of two Australians husband and wife team of Linda Beilharz, Rob Rigato and New Zealander Kerryn Wratt.