Day 76–Tension Build

January 19, 2012 8:00pm

January 19, 2012

S85°18.529 W083°54.900

Elevation 4551 feet

We stayed on alert through the first part of the night, listening for signs from the fickle wind. Gusts would come and go, toying with our nerves and determination. We had spent Scott’s centennial arrival at the South Pole, on the 17th, in our chilled tent, buried in the sleeping bags. At 03:00 AM, Eric stepped out and tested his kite; would we fly in such weak winds. The long lines on the Yakuza’s reached a wind line above, so long as we could get them up. We broke up camp and got ready. The sky had remained white, and the contrast was, again, marginal. I looked at my sleeve. The light flakes falling on my dark glove confirmed that it was snowing: white on white, it was otherwise impossible to tell. We got the kites up and, like nomads of the white desert, glided away one more time. We cut a ninety degree angle to the easterly wind. The ceiling opened up slightly within the first hour, revealing the uneven terrain we had been negotiating. That eased the tension of blind navigation, and for a while, delivered acceptable distance. The wind on the surface was still negligible, but so long as the kite stayed up, we were moving. As the cloud cleared, the Thiels mountains appeared in the distance, west of us. Strange though it sounds, these are the first natural features we have seen, other than ice and clouds, since the Queen Maude range, over two months and almost two thousand miles ago! The base was visible, piercing through the surface of the ice, though a few hundred feet above, a layer of clouds shrouded the peaks, keeping them from our sight. In our short travel, we had dropped further in elevation, though the temperature, at twenty below, hardly reflected that. The sun played a game of hide and seek with the cloud, finally losing, and the sky once again was closing in. With it, the winds dropped until soon, the kites floated down, robbed of the power to move forward. This would mean another campsite. The developing humidity was evidenced by the building of frost on the kites’ lines, weighting them down. We stayed optimistic that the 60 kilometers traveled that morning would be supplemented later in the day; it was 8:00 AM. But that was not to be. All day, stillness overtook the landscape, while the sunless sky kept us chilled in the tent. We are striking out with the conditions out here, notorious for their consistently strong katabatic winds. The system we are in has robbed us from the promise of mileage and an early arrival. As it now stands, we have 598 kilometers to go before Hercules, and basically five, perhaps six days to complete them. The tension builds–so close. Will we be allowed to close…?

7 Responses to “Day 76–Tension Build”

  1. “Will we be allowed to close…?” Yes, you will! Courage! Toute mon admiration depuis Los Angeles: vous êtes des surhommes!!!!

  2. BASILE says:

    No one cannot say yes or no, but, I don’t know why, I’m sure you will success!
    Anyway, you are already in the legend…
    All the best

  3. Stephan says:

    Cheers to you bud, you have opened a new passage with your vision to do this great challenge.
    Best wishes for a peaceful conclusion to the voyage.

  4. Harald Golbach says:

    I feel a Great confidence that you’ ll make it.
    Wind will come,
    You’ re always in my practice.
    Go for it!

  5. Harald Golbach says:

    I feel a Great confidence that you’ ll make it.
    Wind will come,
    Go for it!

  6. Tmac says:

    you are rockin it bass………no doubt the wind will hit, and hit hard… prepared!!!!!!!!! call in the wind whisperer,,bless

  7. Anne de La Baume says:

    Seems endless ! You are both so brave and or so crazy ?! One day we got close to 0° I was about to think “It’s getting cold”
    when I thought of your degrees under 0 and felt ashamed !

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