Sausage Anyone?

April 21, 2009 4:07am

88.651N, 50.212W

If there is one dimension that was missing from our expedition in
terms of conditions, it is the full blown whiteout blizzard. Up to
forty miles per hour headwinds, snow flying sideways, cloud cover and
and fog with visibility from twenty feet to nothing. Even by Arctic
standards, I think that qualifies as the full enchalada. Well, now
we’ve had it. And there is no question that to travel in these
conditions is simply miserable. No skin can be exposed for risk of cold
injury. Goggles are therefore imperative. But goggles need to be
managed carefully; or they will fog up. Once they do, they are done for
the day, since the fog will turn to frost and cannot be cleared in a
cold environment. A slight misalignment of your head layers or face gear
will send steam from your breath. up into the goggles and the jig is
up. Or if you look down and breath at the same time… Which I did.
Twice. Once with my first pair; and once with my spare. A case could be
made that with that little to see to begin with, fogged up goggles are
just joining the party. But I had to let Keith take the lead as he had
better luck with his. Meanwhile as I trailed behind trying to keep up
in virtual blindness, all I could think of was “when can I eat the
sausage?” which is one of our rare evening treats! Hungry and blindfolded is
how I will remember this day which without much doubt will go down as
our toughest. It started with light cloud cover and 20 mph cold
headwinds as we skied across the second part of yesterday’s enormous
lead–two miles’ worth. It had recently frozen over, though parts were
still wet. By the time we reached its end, a lot more was wet. It was
all mashed up, and moving. Fast. I climbed on top of a small pressure
ridge in the making and rode it, as it was all pushing forward. We
finally made it out of there and the weather turned. In no time, the
visibility turned to null and the wind gained in strength. After braving this for
three hours, dreaming of sausages and wondering when the nightmare
would be over, we threw in the towel. Our progress was very slow, and I
felt our time better suited for recovery to push when the weather
lifts. After 7.5 hours of travel, we had barely made 5 nautical miles.
As I write this, 4 hours into our break, the south drifts has already
shaved one mile off our progress… Our stopping position was
N88°39.110 and W51°25.864 but we are likely to lose another 4 as we did
last night… A tough day, indeed.

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