Pax Arctica Rwenzori Expedition Day 6 – Reaching Margherita summit at 5109m. Thursday. Jan. 23, 2014 - 10 am local time.

Today is an important day. Waking up at 3:30am for what will be a long day. Starting climbing at night (4am) with headlamps.

A complex mix of rock climbing, technical glacier progression and crossing with ice axe and crampons, fixed rope, rappelling, crevasses crossing, etc.

We do frequent stops for GPS measurements and videos/photos.

David, our Chamonix-based mountain guide, photographer and friend is proud of us (for those interested, my max heart beat during the day: 163 - average of 115 - that is how data driven we are!).

We finally reach summit at 10am, all tired and excited. The weather has been mostly sunny and beautiful since sunrise. We take a few pictures for sponsors and partners (SOPRA Group, La Française, Green Cross, etc.).

We get a good view from Congo from up there. Actually we could have gone down the summit to the Congo side if we had planned for it and if that region was not full of rebels and other risks! On the way back we do more measurements: crevasses (we go under the snout of the glacier to film), and Richard takes more soil samples just at the border of the glacier’s snout (to see what soil composition and vegetation exists as this particular glacier recesses. David is surprised that at this altitude the glacier’s ice seemed old and hard. This type of ice is harder to progress on as it requires good balance and self confidence. On the way down, we try to measure via GPS the exact line of the glacier’s snout. We do part of it, but at David’s instruction, we take some distance from the exact line as there are huge rocks inserted in ice right at the top of the glacier’s end (this can be very dangerous, as they can fall at any time being heated by the sun during the day and making surrounding ice less stable - we decide not to take life-threatening risks to collect data from this glacier).

We go through a thunderstorm on the way down as we cross the nearby Alexandra glacier. And finally, after 11hr 01mn, we are back at Margherita’s base camp, exhausted, proud and happy!

[some data here: 11hr 01mn of intense physical effort. 6km ground distance, 855m of cumulative ascents from our Margherita base camp at 4785m].

Photos © Luc Hardy - Pax Arctica