Antarctic Expedition Day 15: After more than 6 days stuck at Lower Camp in violent weather conditions—worthy of the most freezing continent on the planet—we wake up one morning under a great blue sky!
Note, it’s Antarctica after all, so blue sky = -20°C all the same 😂
If you’d like to catch up on my adventure so far, check out my previous expedition articles here:
Moderately violent winds are forecasted for High Camp and the summit but hey, we’ve got to keep ascending! We take as little as possible along with us in order to make sledding an option. We carry everything on our backs!
So, I leave my hairbrush, most of my “drugstore”, a change of clothes in case I get soaked, etc. We’ve still got 20kg per person because we’re also carrying “group gear”, i.e. food and other equipment which belongs to the group.
The weight of the bag is important because we’re going to spend 5 hours on fixed ropes. Fixed ropes are placed in areas which are too vertical to be climbed without knots. So all five of us are tied up, hooked to the rope by a carabiner, and we then use a jumar to climb.
It’s exhausting! And it feels never-ending. We’re thirsty, hungry, it’s super cold, our muscles ache…but as the true Warrior that I am (and that we all are) I dig deep for the Force which is there—present albeit asleep—just waiting to be awakened!
At the top of the fixed ropes, after long hours of trying to climb, we break away and tackle the last hour less steeply. At this point we’re just so tired that this last leg seems truly endless!
We arrive at High Camp, at 3800m — an 8 hour trek! The wind didn’t pick up, so we set up camp under a freezing but beautiful sun.
I’m assuming we’ll have a day of acclimatization before the “summit push” (the final ascent) but who knows! The weather is so changeable here that if it turns out to be on our side, we have to take advantage of it!
It’s way too cold (-36°C) so we eat our dinner (a freeze-dried dish) in our sleeping bags. We go to bed at around midnight, with plans to head out for the summit in the morning 👊
I admit to feeling super exhausted and to sometimes questioning what I’m doing out here in this frozen universe 🥶! Here’s my boo-boo inventory:
📌 Burnt lips almost repaired (phew, because it hurt!)
📌 I lost half of my hair and I’m sad about it, but Vanessa tells me it’s an offering to the mountain (there’s the Greek heritage 😂)
📌 Early signs of a skin infection (left ankle) like in June (the one that took me down from Camp 3 on Denali when it simply became too dangerous to push on with it)
📌 A little soreness under the pad of my right foot, though thankfully nothing too dramatic for the moment 🙏
Antarctic Expedition Day 15 – Your Q&A: “How do you take care of your skin?”
Not like at home! I have micellar water wipes which I use on my face and then “finish” on the rest of my body. One a day. I moisturize with Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Cream (the cheapest from Sephora and frankly, the most restorative I’ve found). It works miracles for things like the tip of my nose burned by the combination of wind-cold & extreme sunshine 24 hours a day. And that’s all!
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