Day 19–A bird and three beasts

November 24, 2011 10:25am

November 23, 2011

S72°58.199 E010°47.191

Elevation 10104 ft

As if to bless our day, a white Tern, again, flew over us as we were about to set off. Conditions were mediocre with marginal visibility: white clouds and some fog white robbed all details from the ice. This, very quickly, proved to be critical as the surface turned into a mangled field of nasty sastrugi and a real rodeo. More like a demolition derby since major obstacles were mostly unseen but for when we collided or rode over them. It made for tense traveling conditions: every muscles i engaged, and eyes squinting through the goggles in a futile attempt to decipher the treacherous ground. The wind was there but we were forced to travel slow, laboriously advancing through the white sheet. Halfway through the day, the fog slowly lifted but still no love from the sun. This reduced somewhat the wild ride we were on, but only slightly. Occasionally, the terrain would smooth out for a section, easing up the tension. But randomly, the sastrugi would come back in force and we were back at it.

Late in the afternoon, upon looking back, three dots appeared about a mile behind us. Trucks! Andrei, from the base, had told me that a convoy was headed to the Pole, and given our position and wind tack, we would be on a similar bearing. Apparently they had picked on our tracks, carefully navigating through the wild terrain. They had our kites in sight for about an hour before they eventually caught up with us. There are the team setting up the Ultimate Race, a show for the BBC involving racing the last 800 kilometers to the Pole. Their modified six wheel drive Toyota pick ups are real monster trucks, jacked up on enormous tires, and customized for this environment. We spent thirty minutes hanging out. We gave them our two small sleds and garbage to bring to the pole where we can have them shipped to our end point. No ditching and polluting–that’s a relief.

By the time we set off, the conditions had improved; visibility was good and the terrain significantly smoother. We saw the trucks speed up into the horizon on their 1200 kilometers journey. About an hour after setting off, however, and for no obvious reason, my rib clicked and the sharp pain I had not experienced for a week was back. It was tough to move and forced us to set up camp. This happened, unfortunately, six minutes before our end of day break… We are now well over three thousand meters and the air is definitely thinner–any effort leaves you short of breath. We covered 38.5 kilometers and 600 feet of rise.

2 Responses to “Day 19–A bird and three beasts”

  1. Anna Lapushner says:

    I’m seeing you as James Bond now, except you’re a real person. What an experience Sebastian! And how wonderful to leave no trace. XO

  2. BASILE says:

    Pas le même genre d’expédition!!!! ahahah
    an incredible meeting in the middle of nowhere,,,

    But great compassion for your ribs and your suffer
    You are so strong! Thank you very much for this strength♥

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