Climbing Mount Hordern is typically a complicated affair. Being the tallest and one of the most remote of the Frames Mountain range skirting Mawson station, simply getting there and making camp takes considerable time, even without taking the weather into account. With New Year’s approaching, and a great weather window, the Mawson summer Mountaineering Club (or Saddle Club as we have for some reason named ourselves), decided this would be the best time to make the 4 day trip out to tame the 1444 meter peak while doing a bit of polar camping along the way.
This weeks Saddle Club cast consisted of Heidi (field training officer), Luke (electrician), Pete (deiso), Seamus (boilermaker), Martin (arts fellow) and myself – Haydn (back up Kiwi and carpenter). With the Hägglunds packed and ready we headed off south the 50 odd kilometres over ever increasing melt streams towards our goal. After a 4 hour ride featuring some interesting line choices over the sastrugi by Luke, we made it to our destination and proceeded to make camp.
After two hours of digging snow, unpacking and standing tents, moving rocks and digging more snow, we were all set for the long weekend in our own slice of isolated paradise. As the second day began, some of us decided it would be a great idea to carry the trusty steeds we had found in the costume basement to the top of the mountain. We quickly realised this was not as great of an idea as we had thought. After an hour and a half of battling winds and scree slopes, we crossed through a notch the ridge and caught our first glance at the ice slopes we would be tackling.
Leaving our horses, donning our crampons and wielding our ice axes, we steadily and carefully made our way up the slopes following Heidi until we reached the base of the final pitch to the top of the mountain; a vertical 10 meter chimney climb. Once again Heidi led the way and dragging two climbing ropes behind her made the ascent look easy. One by one we all climbed the ropes and for a moment stood on top of the peak before abseiling back down to shelter from the freezing winds.
Back at camp a few hours later after a much more enjoyable descent, we enjoyed our heated up cryovaced meals and remarked on how lucky we were to be able to experience such an unbelievably vast, untamed and beautiful place in such an isolated part of the world.