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Climb-p2



The heavy snowfalls of the previous days meant the moraine rocks were partly buried with soft snow. The going was difficult as they slipped into the snow filled gaps between the rocks as they attempted to negotiate the northern moraine.   They struggled on for several hundred yards, but were forced to move onto the glacier. Now roped together they proceed up the snow covered glacier. Although the surface was covered in a few of feet of snow, it seemed easier going than the moraine. However, they had not walked more than fifty yards when they struck hidden ice falls and Priestly was “down three or four crevasses in as many minutes.  They wandered around the snow-covered surface finding many hidden un-bridged crevasses by falling into them. As the glacier surface now proved more dangerous than the moraine, they headed back, joining the northern moraine several hundred yards passed the point they left it.

Priestley writes:                                           

 I certainly never fell far into any of the crevasses, for the men were on the watch all the time, and before my shoulders had disappeared I was generally jerked backwards and dragged along for a yard or two through the snow. In the first case, indeed, which was the first bad crevasse they had seen, I was landed more like a half-drowned perch than anything else, and felt as if the snow which had been driven down my neck must have been coming out of my boots. These crevasses were very numerous, and ranged from 3 feet to 7 feet in breadth. They were all completely hidden, and so it was impossible to avoid them.[i]

Although both Abbott and Browning had done sledging on sea ice at Cape Adare, this glacier climb was their first experience of travelling through crevassed terrain.

Back on the moraine they followed it until it vanished a half mile farther up the glacier.  They continued on and after a mile of trudging through fresh snow and slipping into several smaller crevasses the glacier veered to the right.  Now, the gradient increased, and the surface snow disappeared presenting clear ice.  The wind blowing down the glacier had cleared the snow covering exposing the ice beneath. From this point, they had a constant wind and blown snow until re-passing this corner on their return.  This wind did not add to their comfort.

Because of the change in the surface conditions, they stopped. Priestley and Abbott put on their steigeisens (ice-spikes) over their soft deer skin finneskoes footwear while Browning who had leather boots with three spikes waited.

Finneskoes: Boots made of fur, including the soles. They are packed with the moisture-absorbing Norwegian hay called sennegrass.  They are warm but do not have much traction. (Antarctica An Encyclopaedia, John Stewart. p 332)

 

A photograph of Abbott, Priestley, and Browning with ice axes, alpine rope, and showing
the gear they would have been wearing during the Boomerang Glacier climb.  Abbott is
wearing finneskoes with Steigeisens while Priestley and Browning are wearing boots with
three spikes. This photograph was not taken during the climb, as Priestly writes in his
diary that on that day he was wearing finneskoes not boots as shown here.
(Freezeframe, SPRI, p54-16-388gg )



[i] Raymond Edward Priestley, p. 204.


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