Day 17–Deja Vu

November 21, 2011 6:31pm

November 21, 2011

We are committed to the tent for the second consecutive day, as the storm rages on outside. This, of course, is reminiscent of Greenland when, after our first day of kiting–following a less tedious but still painful ascent of the glacier–we spent the following seven days pinned down by hurricane strength winds! From inside the relative comfort of our Hilleberg tent, things aren’t as dire. Antarctica’s dry air and the tent’s greenhouse effect bring the indoor temperature to a very moderate 10C degrees or so. This is a well appreciated contrast to the Arctic sea ice, where inside the tent is barely a few degrees warmer than the outside. Here, from 10 AM until about 4 PM, while the sun hovers around its local zenith, indoor life can be relatively civilized. We read, eat, and listen to podcasts or language lessons. The constant flapping of the tent becomes but an after thought, until an unusually strong gust makes enough of an impression for us to look up at each other and nod in appreciation.

Upon stepping outside, however, the fierce conditions are an instant reminder of the respect Antarctica commands. The spin drift flies up to four feet high, shielding the horizon in a blanket of white. In fact, details fade away as if in a fog, reducing visibility to about forty feet. The wind is strong and cold, and it is easy to imagine that frost would literally bite exposed skin in less than a minute. The sun is still visible amidst low clouds, and over head, the sky is partially blue. In the late afternoon, the frozen ground catches the sun’s rays and reflects them as if a mirror. Were it not for the wind-chill temperature plummeting around 60C below, one could easily spend hours watching the natural spectacle of the drift racing over the ice and blowing over the sastrugi, redefining its shapes, as it does endlessly. This is a highly dynamic world, forever mutating and reforming to the whim of its winds. In contrast to its harshness, this is also a timid environment, its beauty shielded by inaccessibility. Even while immersed in it, I can only spend a few minutes taking in the drama before retreating to the safety of our tent. Up here on the ice cap, Antarctica follows a rhythm where life does not figure. It is, quite literally, like entering another world.

By early evening, the sun is out and the winds appear to be pulling back some. The forecast calls for one more day of bad weather, but who knows, perhaps it will be kind to us. We still have a long way to go…

4 Responses to “Day 17–Deja Vu”

  1. That sounds kind of scary,I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about that cold wind.I hope there is good weather ahead for you.God bless and take care.

  2. Andrew Macpherson says:

    OK, this is geting worrying, no update for two days? Come on, even if you’re just lazing about in a tent waiting for the storm to blow over at least let us know you’re ok!

  3. BASILE says:

    Je me souviens de l’autre occasion où vous ne pouviez pas bouger du campement.
    I remember the other occasion where you could not move the camp.

    • Maggy says:

      Hi,I would also like to know where this spot is, since I am going to NZ next thursday.Looking fowrard to explore this beautiful country.Best wishes from Germany,Travelingdevil / JensJens recently posted..

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