A somewhat difficult week

Published on 22.12.2008 - Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition

The men of the Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition are in the process of negotiating the 160-km uphill section of Beardmore Glacier. This is a field of blue ice that requires the daily use of crampons.

To imagine what the explorers are having to contend with on a daily basis this week as they climb the glacier, you need to envisage a corridor of blue ice, approximately one kilometre wide, that rises inexorably before them between two fields of immense crevasses.

A climb such as this means that they have to use crampons every day. But the crampons they are using are made from aluminium and do not appear to be sturdy enough alone for the blue ice on Beardmore Glacier.

Which means that from time to time they have to set up ropes along the wall of the glacier when the incline becomes too steep and the space between the fields of crevasses is too small. This enables them to keep going and also to help one another, as they would in any conventional climb.

The men are advancing at a rate of barely fifteen kilometres a day and believe they will have completed the climb up the glacier in two or three days' time. Once they have done that, they will be able to speed up again and head for their rendezvous with the 97-mile point, where Shackleton finally turned round on his expedition.

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