May 19, 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Execution

Posted by larryohanlon

See the other posts from this expedition here

By Martin Sessions

I arrived in Coyhaique on Saturday 1st April to pack the food and help with some last minute activities. Johnny arrived on 6th April with the X8 drone. Marcos was in town the following day. Meanwhile snow was falling with it settling down to 500 m above sea level (absl). Had winter started early?

At 0730 on Friday 7th, the fuel truck departed with all the kit together with Olaf whilst Jammie took Johnny and the valuable kit such as rucksacks. The aviation fuel drums were loaded on to the truck at Coyhaique aerodrome and both truck and pickup (ute) went to Puerto Chacabuco to arrive at midday. Drums, kit and food were loaded on to the Reloncavi II from Cupquelan whilst Olaf and Johnny were the two passengers. They departed Puerto Chacabuco around 1700.

Fuel Truck reversing on to Reloncavi II in Puerto Chacabuco

They arrived at Laguna San Rafael about midday on the Saturday. The next task was unloading the equipment and fuel.

Arriving in Laguna San Rafael and lifting the Fuel Barrels off the vessel.

Meanwhile Mark had arrived on Saturday after a short delay due to fog at Balmaceda airport. Rodrigo, the pilot, phoned to say that the flight to the glacier maybe either Tuesday or Wednesday. Jammie printed off a weekly weather report showing a ‘high’ pressure region developing over the Northern Icefield from Tuesday to the following Monday. Clear sky was indicated by the significant difference in maximum and minimum temperatures for each day. Maybe we were in luck . . .

At Laguna San Rafael, the eight barrels were moved from the jetty to the landing strip together with the stores. At expedition HQ, last minute preparations were being undertaken – charging batteries, making tougher boxes for the drones, repairing a leaking pack raft and, most importantly, training for me and Mark in glacier walking techniques, roping, extraction from crevasses etc. The pilot rang on Monday to give us the go ahead for Tuesday.

 — Next: Arriving on Ice

This post was originally published here

Martin Sessions was born in Kenya in 1948 but educated in England, finishing up with a degree in Engineering at Cambridge University (Pembroke College). For 28 years, he served in the Royal Navy as an Engineer Officer before migrating to Australia where he is an engineering consultant in Canberra. His first expedition was to Koldukvislarjokull in the North West corner of Vatnajokull, Iceland in 1970. Then followed expeditions to Chilean Patagonia (1972/73) and Liverpool Land, Greenland (1977). Finally he made expeditions to Glacier Benito in 2007, 2011 and 2017 to capitalize on work undertaken there in 1972/73.