Day 12–Hauling In Soft Snow

November 17, 2011 9:25am

November 16, 2011

S71°42.482′ E010°50.749′

Elevation 6183 ft

“This hill won’t climb itself!”, is what I kept repeating myself, time and again, each time I stopped to catch my breath, which happens more or less every couple of minutes. Today was another whopper. The day started with just enough wind to make us believe. So much so that we strapped our ski boots on out of the tent. We just needed to finish the last hundred meters from last night’s hill to see what laid ahead. No sooner had we reached the top, that we switched back to the cross country boots: in front of us sprawled a long valley riddled with crevasses. Seems the path we chose did not, in the end, spare us. We maneuvered carefully, and for a good hour tethered each other: theoretically, at least, if one of us fall through, the other can stop the fall. Or go in with him! In the end the bridges held, even if occasionally one of our poles would go right through and reveal the green void below. By the time we were done playing catch up with our emotions, we faced yet another hill. The air had gotten dead-still, which was unfortunate as the terrain was for once much friendlier to navigate, although as we were soon to find out, the snow at this altitude is getting much softer, and hauling the sledges through soft snow is like dragging them through syrup! No glide, and no breaks. We were moving very slow. But at least the sun was out, and the air still. With this type of effort, you sweat like a convict. And in spite of the minus 15C temperatures, I was topless but for my nylon fishnet top, which, while designed to prevent wet wool from sticking to the skin–giving it a chance to dry–also makes me look like a member of The Village People. Eric wore his pajamas. The views are still arresting as we are framed by two mountain ranges on either side of us. Certainly one of the most scenic landscapes anywhere: long expanse of rolling ice leading to the feet of precipitous peaks. That alone is worth the price of admission. The hills continue their sadistic head game: reaching the top simply means the reveal of the next one. The gods were kind to Sisyphus–they did not send him to Antarctica to haul a heavy sledge! We are halfway up the plateau, and traveled seven kilometers today for about two hundred feet of rise. During my daily sked call with Andrei tonight, we find out that one team–Dietmar and Guhnter–has thrown in the towel on their expedition and are back in Cape Town, while the other–our friends Dixie and Sam–have asked for a pick-up and relocation to another destination… “Don’t give up, Sebastian, you guys are the only expedition left on the ice from Novo!”, he tells me. No chance of that at this point; with or without broken ribs. This hill won’t climb itself! The march goes on.

7 Responses to “Day 12–Hauling In Soft Snow”

  1. zip zembinski says:

    “The gods were kind to Sisyphus–they did not send him to Antarctica to haul a heavy sledge!” PRICELESS!

  2. Shadowjo says:

    Courage is….when confronted with the impossible u still try !
    U guys are heroes….keep ur smile on !

    • Rustem says:

      How about today? It’s snowing today too, and I bet you are just THRILLED.:-/Ya me neiehtr. WTH? We get entombed in ice and lose power for 7 days, and now buried in two one-footer storms one right after the other? Yeesh!

  3. Harry Golbach says:

    yesterday,Nov.17. was one of the four major Wheeldays in Buddism: LHA BAB DÜCHEN
    On this day the effects of positive and negative actions are multiplied ten million times.
    We were practicing a lot and directed our practice specially to you guys and all sentient beings.
    The buddhas and all the masters are with you at all times….
    Guru Rinpoche himself said: ” the absence of doubts brings complete success”
    All my love!! Harry

  4. Karin says:

    Minus 15°C in fishnet-top? I am freezing here in pullover ond coat at slightly above zero. Thats just WOW!
    You two will meke it!!

  5. Don’t give up Sebastian! I can’t imagine what you and Eric are going through, although I read each detail every day. It’s easier for me to say it than for you guys to do it, but keep your goal. This is probably a hardest mission than going to the North Pole, but you are an inspiration for me and i’m planning to make a review of this to my young readers. We’ll keep waiting. Best luck.

  6. ANA says:

    Hello from Basque Country; our 3 climbers (Iñurrategi, Vallejo and Zabalza) left Novo Base 3 days ago and they are reporting very tough conditions back from you. So, good luck every body. You are spartans, really!! ana

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