Antarctic Rock Climbing

On Saturdays we have the afternoon off work, so yesterday after lunch I headed off base with Malcolm, Rob and Rosie in search of some sun-kissed granite! I was a bit sceptical as it was blowing about 35knots at the base but Malcolm; who has been down here doing the same job as me for the last year, assured me that we would find a crag out of the wind and in the sun…he was right! We went to a crag known as “Crag X” which lies on the North side of the Stork ridge. The crag had one recorded ascent on it but when we arrived there were several lines that looked possible. Malcolm lead a 50m arete that looked to have relatively stable rock the whole way up it and I did a 40m route up a corner to the left of the crag. It was a steep introduction to Antarctic rock climbing and to the seriousness of it all. The rock can be very loose in places and a lot of the gear is in hollow flakes and suspect blocks.

The climbing was never overly hard but it was definitely exciting as most of the protection was of marginal quality and I was never quite sure how good the next hold was going to be. For these reasons it is very hard to assign a grade to it but it is somewhere in the region of HVS 4c/5a.