Fly to: Santiago, Chile
Internal Transfer: Santiago - Cohaique
Visa required: Not if British
Time Zone:-3hrs GMT
Day 13, 16/11/07 - Patagonia Northern Icecap
Whoop whoop a lie-in, up at 8:00am this morning. After the arduous task of digging up our snow chutes and knocking down the hard built wall (satisfying in a sadistic kind of way); we were still faced with the dilemma of how on earth we were going to get off this slope. There had been no freeze during the night which meant the conditions were going to be similar or worse to those experienced yesterday - joy! Ben and Jaya set up the two ropes so we could each repel down kicking our packs in front of us. The snow conditions were pretty sh*t and even doing this our bodies were punching into holes. After the 1st hour Ariel was f*cked. Her bottle had totally gone and Ben had to carry her pack, coaxing her down every step - the rest of the group was now waiting for Ariel constantly. I don't know how anyone else is feeling but I'm thinking, 'we've been out here a week, she clearly can't hack this & its not getting any better, if anything it's getting worse, this can't go on...surely?'
The group then took seat while Ben & Jaya disappeared with the satellite phone, then after a little while (the rest of the group had acknowledged something was amiss) they called over Ariel; after further discussions Ben & Jaya called the group together. It was announced that Ariel was not in a position to participate any further in the trip and that she was being returned to Coyhaique; that Ben & Jaya didn't feel safe with her on the team and that her leaving had been a mutual decision between the three of them. I'm not sure what I felt, at first it was shock, at OMG they're actually sending someone home, then confusion as to how exactly do they send someone out of here when we can't even get down a slope! Then came relief, glee, thank f*ck we don't have to put up with this woman a minute longer. Then was the OMG if Ariel's not here who does that mean will be the weakest link... & then came, jeez our food ration is split for 3 people does that mean Nic & me are going to have to carry more weight? Arrrghh that'd suck! Obviously all my thoughts and feelings were 100% selfish but then hey-ho, it's honest.
The expedition had now changed; the route we'd originally planned was now a no-go because we have to evacuate Ariel. Another T-anchor was built and we were again individually repelled down, again punching through the crappy snow. We descended further down the slope, punching in now with every step, it's getting pretty tedious especially when you have to keep pulling yourself back out!
Evans & Ian were asked to go on ahead and scout for a suitable camp site; when I reached the guys Ian looked pretty worried and they said he'd fallen into a huge hole and when Evans pulled him out they looked inside and it was about 15 foot deep; then they'd crashed through and uncovered a waterfall and decided there was no way they were looking any further by themselves so came back; Jaya went off to look instead.
Mid-way down the slope we found a suitable camp site partially sheltered by some trees, 'camp waterfall'. The tents were spread a fair distance apart which meant each of the teams would have to dig out a platform and build their own tent protection. The three of us started digging our platform, starting at the lowest point, in all fairness Ariel pulled her weight with the digging & we soon had a suitable platform. Nic & Evans went off to dig out & pitch the mega mid (which never went up for some reason?), meaning I was left to pitch our tent with Ariel. It took so much effort to have to explain how everything's done; what you're doing and therefore what she should be doing, so in the end I conceded defeat and left her the task of stomping the snow flat whilst I went for a poo.
As I passed Nic I asked which way she'd gone when she went to the loo, her reply, 'follow my footsteps', right-oh. As I followed the footsteps I was thinking jeez this is hard, I'm slipping, punching in and then i thought, 'flippin' eck girl how far did you walk?' - then came a moment of realisation where in the distance I could see Jaya! I'd followed the wrong footsteps and was instead following Jaya's scouting trail for tomorrow! A quick peanut butter poo and then back to the tent, where Ariel was still stomping the ground - bless. Dinner tonight was cold pasta with what looked like, a sauce of dirty water - hmm delicious!