A Grind

April 10, 2009 4:19am

87.1947N, 076.7111W
When a lead collapses from under your feet, it rarely happens instantly. It
could, of course, if it were thin enough; but you would likely not be
attempting to cross it there. Rather, when a lead cracks below your
weight it happens in slow motion, but the area breaking is typically as
long and as wide as your skis are, leaving very little leverage to
escape from the sink. That is what happened to me today. Keith had just
crossed a sketchy section but the narrowest of an open lead, which was
our best option. His combined weight with his sledge fractured that
passage after he crossed it leaving me to find a less desirable
section. I treaded carefully and found myself in the middle of this
narrow lead when Keith got agitated warning that my sledge was sinking
behind me! I reacted as fast as one does when facing the wrong
direction with skis on, and tethered to a heavy sledge! As I attempted
to back up, the ice below me gave in as well and soon, I was sinking
too. I thankfully managed to jump and throw myself to the side, thereby
avoiding buying the drink! I got away with one wet boot and a good shot
of adrenaline. (It should be said that if all else fails, the sledges
float). I then managed through another section and made a safe crossing.
today was a tough day. The first half of the day was riddle with
complex sections of large rubble and pressure ridges.There was no end
to it! The field was broken up like the Irish countryside, fragmented
in small plots seperated by walls of ice.This was the first six hours
of our day: taking the skis off; pulling the sledge up and down these
walls, or some ice junk yards; putting the skis on and repeating this
over again. Additionally, gastro intestinal discomfort isn’t fun
anywhere. But out here? Both Keith’s and my stomach felt lousy today.
Probably the dry freeze eggs rancheros from breakfast. Pulling was a
grind, and it was physically taxing. Keith was a star and led for the
afternoon as my stomach was just not there. By the end of our day, we
finally hit a flat pan which allowed us to make up some slow mileage
for the last four hours. We ended up covering 10 nautical miles in 11.5
hours. Our current position is N87°12.018 and W76°43.160.The drift is
still pulling us East but we should be OK if we keep, as I have,
favoring west. We have not been using the GPS much, but for figuring
our position at the beginning and end of the day. Because we have had
sun everyday (yes, the polar cap should be on your list of sunny
destinations: not a cloud in the sky so far!), I find it easier to
navigate compensating for the sun’s rotation around us, or 15°
clockwise every hour. (The sun no longer sets here at this time of the
That’s it: after a great day yesterday, a grind today!
Hopefully tomorrow will get us back on track! We’re both pooped
tonight. Goodnight!

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