"Mount Hunter is a siren. Its seductive song captivated me the first time I heard it. I have thrown aside logic and maybe even reason to try to climb it. I am not alone on this bewitchment" Scott Backes

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The biggest day sofar... resend (yesterdays blog entry)

Today started at 6am and surprisingly it was only -12 deg C so a pretty warm start. Although my boots still seem to be giving me problems, I still have not figured out a way to stop my boots from freezing. By the time I go to bed they are frozen and despite putting them in my sleeping bag (which is no fun at all) they are still frozen in the morning, I have tried using them as a pillow once and also spent one night with them on my feet inside my bag... Anyway, the point I am getting too, is that I spent the majority of this morning trying to tie up and tighten my frozen boots and laces, it is like trying to bend plate steel... infact I broke my one lace, but in hindsight, I dont actually need laces... the boots where certainly not coming off.... what I really needed was a vice or a g-clamp to bend the leather.

So being the cameraman filming Matt and Jon and their attempt on Mt Hunter, I have to be around all the action, this morning had me rushing on ahead to the start of the route. I wanted to get a couple specific shots, one was a brilliant low angle shot of the sun just peaking over the mountains, contoured snow landscape as a foreground, the North Buttress in the back ground while the boys walking past on their skis, snow being picked up by the light wind... sun light flairing into the lens.... whooo... a camera mans dream....mmm..this of course didnt materialise like I had planned as the sun only showed itself about 20 seconds after the boys had walked passed and out of shot...grrr. What a lot of effort for nothing. There I was face planted in the snow, rolling around with my skis still attached....looking like a total muppet and had nothing to show for it.

So we are now at the base of the route, and after prepping the biggest rack of gear, getting strapped up with all that lovely sharp ice climbing equipment and readying the porta-ledge and haul bag for its journey, Matt and Jon headed up on their amazing adventure. Matt wearing some crazy new bright orange Patagonia outfit (which although looks like some prisoner outfit, it looks amazing on camera and can be seen from miles away) and Jon being a bit more reserved in his choice of clothing, (blue and green). Both giving a short message to camera and then heading up the face... I was filming them on their first 2 pitches from down below, dodging chunks of snow and ice hurtling towards me, Luckly I had Al Lee's massive wide angle lens on the camera, so perfect for hiding behind to protect my head from projectiles :)

I soon made my way back to our ice fortress to phone TAT (Talkeetna Air Taxi) to book some fly bys to film the boys on the route... they where planning on making their first camp at the top of the Prow (1/3 of the way up the face) and the plan was to catch them on that part of the face as it is pretty dramatic..... plane was booked.... 2.30/ 3pm..... only problem was, I didnt have a watch.... so now I am trying to figure out time based on sun positions based on sun rise, lunch times, the time-lapse footage I have been doing and the daily 8pm radio weather update and radio trivia quize game played amoungest everyone in the mountains.... pretty cool actually, time for everyone to connect with each other. (had cool radio chatter today discussing a troublesome route amoungst other climbers..) Anyway, point being, is I got down to the main BC and air strip by 2.10.... how is that for estimation.. :)

Until this point I had not been able to see the boys on the route as it can only be seen from higher up on the glacier... but based on the discussions with Matt and Jon, they would be on the Prow and true to form.. that is exactly where they where.. making really good ground, Jon was some 20 meter higher up with Matt in his lumo orange getup and with all the haul bag and porta-ledge. The only problem was, it took 4 passes on the plane to actually find them, and despite booking the plane for 30min the pilot only had enough fuel for 15min and only got 2 useble passes.... The best and most scary part of the whole adventure, was taking the door off and strapping myself in my harness, sitting on the plane floor and had my legs dangling out the side.... my gosh the wind was so cold... not only did my hands become totally numb but my eyes where watering and the air inside my lungs felt like it was being sucked out of my body.... WOW.... what a crazy fun experience.. Anyway, got a couple cool shots, some lovely arial footage of the area, but on the next flyby, will make sure the pilot has a full tank.

So tonight and for the next 5 or 6 nights, I am on my own here at BC and cooking for one really is not that much fun, I am being tempted by the massive slab of cheese, the tinned fruit and green and blacks chocolate bars.... that would easily sustain me for a week :) all the fresh veg is gone (despite the frozen onions, oh yes, frozen onions don't make your eyes water.... tip for all you budding cooking enthusiasts), but now I am just left with frozen tinned veg which is really rubbish....got to spoon out all the melted carrot and bean water after is has melted and spoilt all the other ingredients in the pan....

It is now 9.30pm ish....the sun has set about an hour ago and the temperature reads -15 deg C... in about another hour or so it will prob be -20 deg C.... it has become the norm for night time (thank goodness there is no major wind yet) so here I am shivering away tying this blog, yes you guessed it... my boots are frozen again.... Anyway, just had a radio call from the boys who are still in the setting sun higher up on the face, they are chilling in their porta-ledge above the Prow, making a brew...I could hear the JetBoil stove firing away on all cylinders..... what a comforting sound these stoves makes when you are faced with such low temperatures.... think I am going to put a brew on the boil now too.

More blogging action to follow.... got so much to tell, from how I have solved the frozen olive oil problem, our solar charging and sat phone blogging setup, Matts down booties that I have pinched for the rest of the week and these stupidly small barrels everyone is issued for poohing in and of course international mountaineering clothing trends and lots lots more.... stay tuned.


Pic 1. Boys on the wall.

Pic 2. The Plane.

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