May 29, 2017

Glacier Benito Journal: Departure – Sunday 16th April

Posted by larryohanlon

See the other posts from this expedition here

By Martin Sessions

The weather was still excellent for our final day for departure. I was tempted to stay one day longer but one should not tempt ‘fate’ even if the weather on Monday was going to be good. We made an early start and were ready to move out to the landing zone on the glacier at 0830 with all equipment packed and the camp site cleaned up. Two load carries each later, we were already to receive the helicopter at 0930. The next 30 minutes were spent having a quick brew, taking photographs including a group photograph and having a last walk around on the glacier.

Vacating our Camp Site

En Route to the Landing Site

The Landing Pad

Brew Time

The Team

The helicopter CC-ABT, piloted by Rodrigo, arrived at 1015 with Gabriela. Olaf loaded the helicopter before Mark, Marcos and Johnny boarded for the trip to Laguna San Rafael.

The Helicopter Arrives

Loading the Helicopter

Olaf described to Gabriela what we were doing here and we took some more photographs. 75 minutes later the helicopter returned to pick us up. We flew down the glacier to pick up the walk out kit at Valle Piedra Blanca, followed by a second pick up at Punta Blanca. We crossed Kelly Inlet again where we saw a two masted schooner in the bay with the crew rowing ashore to Isla Boscosa in a rubber boat. After that we climbed the north side of Kelly Inlet to fly around Pallin’s Survey point twice before returning across Glacier San Quintin to the Laguna San Rafael airstrip.

Gabriela with Olaf

Recovery of Walk Out Packs from Valle Piedra Blanca

A Last Very Small Glimpse of Glacier Benito from near Pallin’s Survey Point

On arrival, the helicopter was refuelled before taking off with me, Mark and Johnny with Gabriela for Coyhaique. We flew past Volcan Hudson but kept clear due to ash being whipped up by winds. The pilot used the valleys to reduce the effect of the head wind. We landed at Coyhaique at 1500. Mark flew back to Australia a couple of days later whilst Johnny researched studies on Patagonian Icefields’ glaciers. He ascertained that there were few published field studies undertaken at the higher altitudes of the glaciers and indeed only one published ‘levelling’ study on a Patagonian Icefield glacier.

Rodrigo Our Pilot

Ready for Our Return to Coyhaique

Meanwhile Olaf and Marcos were waiting for a lift out by ship from Laguna San Rafael. After seven days waiting, the Cupquelan support vessel Saurak picked them up from the Laguna San Rafael jetty on Sunday 23rd. They arrived at Puerto Chacabuco on the following day and were in Coyhaique at 1700.

The Saurak on the way to Puerto Chacabuco


— Next: Observation, Final Words & Acknowledgements —

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.