Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mt. Rae

Looking down Canada Glacier towards Lake Hoare

Becky on the way up Canada Glacier

After getting back from my hike to the defile, I sat down to finish out a slow morning. I had a quite breakfast, did some camp work, and filled in a few too many crossword puzzle answers. Then, Becky and I finally got a late start towards our climb up Mt. Rae. We weren't going to summit, just head up the backside until we didn't feel like heading up anymore.

Becky walks like an Egyptian with Lake Hoare below. I'm sharing this because it makes me giggle every time I see it.

Canada Glacier 'sliding' to the right and Lake Frixel in the distance.

Me with Lake Frixel and Andrew's Ridge in the background.

We followed the Canada Glacier up to the back side of Mt. Rae until we hit a small flat stretch. We could have crossed over the glacier to Lake Frixel where there were two unmanned field camps or keep left and head up the back side of Mt. Rae. We went left and after an hour of scree and snow climbing, we finally wrapped about to some amazing views.

Lake Frixel sits near the entrance of the Taylor Valley with Mt. Erebus looming in the distance.

Becky and I didn't make it to our goal of finding a place to see up the east side of the Taylor Valley. We didn't know if there actually was such a view without going to the very top and as we kept climbing and climbing, the view wasn't changing much. We eventually just sat down, ate a great meal, basked in the sunshine, and headed back down. I had hoped to see more, but it didn't really matter. I was still swooning about spending an extra day in such a beautiful place. Nothing to prove. Just enjoy.

A ventifact.

On the way back down the way we came, I saw three great things that I have not seen anywhere else in Antarctica. The first was a ventifact, which is a sand blown, usually pitted, rock. Since the area is so dry and windy, the sand just gets moving and wears the rock down. Sometimes, eddies form based on the rock formation which just force the sand to cycle inside them causing them to erode in curious shapes.

Big rock in the side of a glacier.

Also, on the way down I saw a rock that may have been twice the size of my head lodged in the side of the glacier. It looked so out of place and precariously perched that I could have believed someone put it there if I didn't know better. The glacier had simply picked up that rock thousands or maybe even millions of years ago and has been waiting to drop it ever since.

Mummified seal.

The final amazing thing I saw on the way down was a mummified seal. Yes, the first animal I saw and photographed this time, just like last time, was dead. The ocean isn't near by so this seal has to be hundreds (or thousands?) of years old. I saw a few others while in the valley, but none that looked this complete. It is amazing what a lack of moisture can do for preservation.

Me beside Canada Glacier.


  1. Like the pics and info - but especially like the last pic of you. You look happy!!