The Mount Sidley 2019/2020 season has now started in earnest. David Roskelley’s website reports that the team has flown from Union Glacier to the mountain. They arrived at around 10.30pm UTC on Monday.
As anticipated they have landed on the ice sheet. This is the fourth ALE trip to do this. The remaining ones have landed in the crater.
Team member, Andrew Hughes, was kind enough to send me this photo with the slopes of Mount Sidley rising in the background.
The scene will look something like this with the trusty Basler in the background. Looking at the ice disappearing into the distant horizon one can appreciate the enormity of the Antarctic ice sheet.
As the weather forecast now looks promising, the ascent is likely to begin later today. This starts with a walk across the ice to the base of the mountain. This first section is further than it might seem from the picture above.
After then the slopes steepen at a fairly uniform angle. In around 5 hours the team will reach a shallow col where high camp can be set up. With the weather set fair, the team is likely to take everything they need for the climb. Last year the group made a carry to high camp and then returned to base camp the same day.
If the team is feeling well and the weather remains good, then one might anticipate a summit attempt the following day. This was the programme that my group used, though we were turned back by bad weather and we had to try again three days after leaving base camp.
In the meantime, the flight crew will remain with the aircraft. There will be regular radio contact between the team and the crew during the climb. Good luck to all!
Update 15th January 2020
Best laid plans etc. I have been in touch with the team at Sidley base camp. Although the weather at base camp is fine, it does not look so good up the mountain. So the team have not yet left base camp.
Andrew Hughes has sent me this photo of the mountain taken shortly after their arrival with what looks to be a partial halo where the sun’s light is refracted by crystals in the atmosphere.