Every year at the end of February there is a folk night, which is basically an open mic night with acts of all kinds: music, comedy, poetry, dance, etc. We stayed up late and had loads of fun (including a false fire alarm) and after watching the midnight sun rise again I headed off for a lie in. A few hours later I was woken and asked if I wanted to go on this Sunday’s rec trip, which was to be ice climbing at creek 3. Initially I wasn’t going to get up for it, but I’m glad I did as it turned out to be one of the most memorable days in Antarctica.
We prep the gear and headed off in the snocat. Because of the folk night, only about 7 of us were on the trip. Creek 3 is where we did our winter training weekend a few weekends ago, when I chipped my tooth after getting my ice axe stuck. When we arrived we all piled out and sleepily made our way down the ramp admiring the miraging icebergs on the horizon. Suddenly in the amphitheatre of the creek we heard the breath of whales or what turned out to be a huge pod of orcas! They were swimming along the front of the sea ice hunting for penguins and seals, the latter of which were lazing about on the ice. We watched them through binoculars for a while full of excitement. And to think I almost didn’t come on this trip!
In the meantime Al had put up some top ropes to climb on and we gave the routes a good go. The conditions were good again and with so few people it was lovely and relaxing. After besting the routes we went to sit by the end of the cornice and listened to the ice shelf creaking and the breath of the orcas while the sun shone on our faces. The rest of the group joined us and Vicki in true catering style produced snacks and lunch for everyone out of her pack. After that we slowly headed back to a hungover station.