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Ascent of Hjorth Hill on 2018-12-31

Climber: Duncan Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Monday, December 31, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Hjorth Hill
    Location:Antarctica
    Elevation:2490 ft / 758 m

Ascent Trip Report

What a stunner! Like its neighbor Hogback Hill, which I climbed on Christmas, this small mountain features a trippy diversity of rocks and otherworldly views. I got an early start from Marble and made very quick time across the six or so miles separating me from the base of the hill. The weather was flawless and I hiked in a long sleeved t-shirt. The ascent to the summit got my heart rate up, which felt good as there are very few ways to get a cardio workout when you're living at what's basically a lunar colony.

I had thought the Hogback view was good, and that was true, but this one just about takes the cake for me as far as summit vistas I've seen. There had been lots of ice breakout and movement among the vast icebergs that dot the ~40 mile wide section of Ross Sea between me and Ross Island since I'd last looked this way. Above the orca-filled blue waters, Erebus showed off as well as it ever has. From a westward angle the scale of this mountain, the sixth-highest oceanic island highpoint on earth, really comes into resolution. It's a pretty broad shield, quite symmetrical, with huge glaciers cloaking the lower 7,000' or so and more broken ridgy terrain in the upper part. It was smoking a bit as per usual.

Further south, the even taller Royal Society Range formed into a spine when viewed lengthwise, as opposed to the widthwise wall it takes the form of when seen from McMurdo. Pretty cool. The Taylor Valley was epic with its many cascading glaciers terminating in perfect arcs of ice cliff out in the middle of the floor. And Lake Fryxell was frozen but had a cool halo of tropical-blue meltwater around its perimeter.

I sat for over an hour, looking at everything and feeling very grateful to have access to this most remote of places. The lunar analogue came up again, this time making me feel like one of the lucky dudes who got to view the earth from 0.25 million miles away. I felt as though I'd been granted a different perspective on what form our awesome planet can take. Smiling, I walked the few hours back to the colony.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)



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