Mawlers’ Big Adventure ’06:

The Mawlers Go Bi-polar

Yalour Islands Around-the-World Shot

Doumer Island Pictures 12/12/06

Here are the pictures from our first, and really the only, serious climbing attempt on this climbing expedition. Despite any issues with the climbing, some of these pictures really turned out great!

One thing that this series highlights is the oddity of climbing in Antarctica. In most of the rest of the world, you drive to some point, then begin walking. Here, you hop into a Zodiac, then jump out at the beach and wade to your trail head. The whole idea of starting a climb right out of a small boat is a bit foreign to most people.

Something else of note that is not evident from the pictures is that all this Zodiac travel is often what makes you the most wet. Despite having been snowed on and having waded through hip-deep snow in places, we were bone-dry in comparison with the result of our return Zodiac trip.

Fellow traveler John Pearce sat on Stuart's right side, toward the stern of their returning Zodiac. John valiantly tried to hold up his end of a conversation, but every single turn of his head to say something would be matched by a huge wave breaking square in the face, as a direct result of our stony-faced Russian driver forcing the Zodiac through every wave at break-neck speed. We eventually agreed to just hold the conversation until reaching the ship. Poor John probably ended up consuming several liters of sea water in the exchange.

We should probably also point out the little-known fact that most climbing gear is not designed to handle immersion in salt water.


Part of the climbing group boards the outbound Zodiac.
We are horrible with names, so this caption will likely be updated, but in this boat, you can see Stuart, second from the right on the near pontoon. Standing at the motor is climbing guide Tarn Pilkington. In the orange, next to Tarn is Cora. Entering the boat is "American Bill".
Since there were so few people from the U.S. on this trip, we (Lea Ann and Stuart only) started calling Bill Formanek "American Bill". It probably has a lot to do with our complete inability to remember actual names. The fact that we could bring up "Bill" is a major accomplishment. Regardless, this was a great photograph of Bill waiting to climb.
Just before heading out, Stuart took this shot from near the shore. You can already see that there are quite a few clouds built up on the peaks. Our ship is just out of sight around the headland to the right.

Looking from the rope team to the left, we could see down into the bay that shelters Port Lockroy and Jougla Point.
Looking directly ahead, we have Stuart's vantage point from the second-to-last position on Don's rope team, which was bringing up the rear.
Looking to the right and rear of the rope team out to a headland beyond which is the U.S. base "Palmer Station".

Expedition Leader Don (on the right) digs something out of his pack, while a fellow passenger (whose name escapes) wisely uses the moment to grab a drink.
A great picture of Don contemplating the other teams, which you can barely see in the larger version.
The other climbing teams far ahead on the slope. Gotta love that 17-40 mm wide angle on a full-sized chip.

While Stuart et al were climbing, Lea Ann was over at Jougla Point. As it turned out, she could just see some of the climbers, since she had the zoom lens (28-300 mm on a small sensor).
The best part of the picture (a detail of the one on the left) is just how crisp the climbers are at such a distance. We have no idea what team this is, but you can clearly see that the middle climber has fallen. S/he is probably stuck up to their hips in the snow.
Probably very close to where the rope team was caught in the last picture, the entire party stopped to add crampons. Look closely for a tiny dot in the bay, almost directly over the boot of the person on the left. That is our ship.

By the time we reached the false peak, the weather had shifted considerably. The change was even faster than what climbers see in Colorado. On the left side of this picture, the ship is slightly more visible, given the higher angle and reduced reflection.
This is a very dark, cloudy, and snowy picture of the true peak, across a small saddle and a really, really large crevasse. A fast team would have approached this from the right side of the picture, skirting the crevasse on the far right and ascending the ridge. We opted to go down, to avoid the crappy weather and potentially getting our newbies stuck in a crevasse.
The obligatory picture from the top. Love the full beard and gargantuan glasses. A real fashion statement. Everyone will be wearing this in a few months. It's the new black.


Having made it back through the snow, our Russian crew finally located us. Here we come, just a spec in the distance. Now that darn sun is trying to peek through the clouds again.
Notice how our Russian sailor (Dima, we think) is holding on like a drunk Texan on an electronic bull in a suburban pseudo honky-tonk bar? Yeah, he needed it.
Limited People ID: In the red at the front is Annabel Saunders. Stuart is not visible, but was on the port side (right side of picture), second from stern.

The previous installment:
Fast and Fit

The next installment:
Coming Soon!

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All materials © 2006 Lea Ann Mawler & Stuart Mawler