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Climb-p5

Heading down hill, following their upward tracks, they soon found it was easier to break new ground as their previous foot marks were now filled with snow. This fact that in the short time since making the uphill tracks the persistent wind and blown snow had filled their foot marks shows the conditions in which the party was climbing.  Although it was easier to break new tracks, the deep crusted snow proved difficult. The continual breaking through the crust and having to lift the legs high to proceed proved difficult for the trail breaker.  So much so, Priestley's legs cramped badly and he had to give up the lead to Abbott. With Abbott in the lead, they reached the previous ridge and collected the bag of rock specimens they had deposited during the climb. On this ridge, they had a short rest and again used one of the granite pools to drink from.  Continuing, with Priestley back in the lead, they bypassed the first peak and took a shorter route down to the point  where they had previously left the glacier on the upward climb.[i] 

Once on the glacier they had difficulty following their upward path. It was obscured by  drifted snow and they started to find crevasses they had missed previously. Now, finding many wide crevasses they increased the rope spacing by six feet.  Priestley did not want two people in a crevasse at once. The number of crevasses they found, mostly by falling into them, was surprising.  How they missed them on the way up and why they should be breaking the crevasse bridges on the way down was a  question they did not answer.

Priestley writes[ii] that they had fallen into four dozen crevasses during the day. That Browning had found as many as he, and even Abbott had been into two up to his waist.  As the last man of a roped team would have fallen into the least crevasses—the front members having found the crevasses first.  This indicates that the normal order on the rope was Priestly, Browning, and Abbott. This is the order  shown in the photograph of Browning and Abbott resting during the climb.

They continued down the glacier and finally after rounding the first bend on the glacier they were again shelter from the wind. Soon, they met with the northern moraine and followed this down passed the crevasses and then Priestley writes they ‘crawled’ across the glacier to their camp. Arriving at 9.30 p.m. “We arrived back in camp about 9.30 p.m., having been out thirteen hours, and as our lunch had consisted of a biscuit and a stick of chocolate, we brought a hunger with us which was well worth the days march.[iii]

Now, tired and hungry, their first action was to light the primus and have a cop of tea.  In Levick’s tent Browning had trouble with the primus, and Priestley struggled not to give advice about a watched pot.  Although Priestley does note, not for the first or last time, that his tent with Campbell and Dickason had a far better tent routine than Levick, Abbott, and Browning. He also goes on to say, and it was to be proved during their time in the snow-cave, that Dickason was the best cook and primus stove operator of the six. 



[i] Raymond Priestley, sec. 20 Jan., 1912 .

[ii] Raymond Priestley, sec. 20 Jan., 1912.

[iii] Raymond Edward Priestley, p. 206.


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