Archive for May, 2010

Day 18–A Place Frozen In Time

May 31, 2010 8:22pm

Representing Global Green on the Greenland Ice sheet.

We set up camp next to DYE II, and our tent is dwarfed by the five story building. Such a structure, incongruous in this setting, looks part cathedral, part sci-fi movie set. Its dominant feature: a radar dome that defined its purpose. During the cold war, the US army monitored the air for spook ballistic activity. Such structures were built in line–four across Greenland–and all the way into Canada and Alaska. Assignments there must have been bleak due to the temperatures, and the many months of darkness.


Day 17–Dye II

May 31, 2010 7:35am

16 hours and 232 kilometers covered the team reaches DYE II

DYE II camp at first light

N66°29.538 W46°18.662 Elevation 6957 Feet

Looming in the distance, about 30 clicks away, was Dye II. A mere point on the horizon, this abandoned military building has been a reference target for distance in the first phase of our trip. Upon packing the camp this morning, it stood 232 kilometers away, a distance we had optimistically hoped to reach in two days. After just over 16 hours of hard and fast travel, we would reach it in a day!

This was a classic travel day. The kind that goes on and on, yielding perfect conditions that feel will never end.


Day 17–Musical Icescapades

May 30, 2010 4:59pm

Enjoying a cup of soup waiting for wind

N64°24.890 W46°20.333

“If we wanted to go fast, we could have taken a plane,” was the reply imparted onto me by my young friend. After sharing those words of wisdom, Eric showed me some tricks to keep the kite in the air in low downwind conditions. Kiting is naturally amped in powered up conditions. In marginal winds, especially heading downwind, while dragging heavy cargo through wet snow, it’s about as much fun as stumping your toe. Not only is it a lot of work just keeping the sail in the air, but the angle of travel forces a constant zigzag at really low speed, and the miles covered are abysmal. “Still better than pulling”, I kept telling myself.


Day 16–Sastrugi and Sticky Stuff

May 29, 2010 6:50am

This was the hole left by the tent after six days pinned down

Morning rises at 4:30 AM

N64°18.072 W46°20.307 Elevation 8191 feet

We left at night. And kited for twelve hours with only brief stops every 1.5 hours at first, and 1 hour towards the end of the run. By 1:30PM the following day, we had covered 158 kilometers. The winds started low and increased to a steady speed that kept us on the 10 and 12 meter Ozone Mantas traveling around 20 to 25 kilometers an hour for almost five hours.


Day 15–Impressions

May 27, 2010 12:35pm

Late afternoon sun over the sastrugi

Greenland is, for the most part, one giant ice mass, reaching two miles in depth at its thickest, and hugged by mountains along its coasts. Its interior was first explored by Nansen who made a “do or die” traverse from East to West in 1888. The ice sheet slowly rises from just about sea level to an average elevation of around 7500 feet. The interior is an endless succession of rolling hills. The top of any of these yields commanding views of ice, in all directions, stretching as far as the eyes can see. And given the barren nature of this context, the best visual analogy is that of a frozen sea.


Day 14–On The Road Again?

May 26, 2010 9:51pm

Our location is N62°53.532 and W046°44.960 and we are at an elevation of 8399 feet.

Even with yesterday’s disappointment, there was high hope for today. After all, in spite of the day’s rodeo, one thing it did indicate was that change was afoot. The system was moving, and with it should come some workable conditions. Should. Which is why it was hard not to feel defeated when the whole night played to the sweet tune of that roaring jet engine, and the tent shook and did not let up! I hardly slept, and began to quietly wonder where this trip was going. Regardless, I was determined to move camp today, come hell or high water. Fed up with that spot, which after six days and six nights made our campsite feel noticeably homely. And with a broken tent pole (fixed but not reinstalled), the tent had a lot less commonality with “home sweet home” than it did with a demolition derby.


Day 13–Fooled Again!

May 25, 2010 3:10pm

Sebastian on an archeological dig: somewhere under there are two disgruntled kite skiers!

The day started in the manner which we have grown accustomed to in the last few–the last five, to be exact: howling winds, tent flapping, and some measure of discouragement. No breaking news there. This would make it day six of being pinned down inside the tent, sheltered from a nasty and persistent wind storm that has hurled snow drift at our thin nylon walls, and cranked up the decibels for what amounts to 126 uninterrupted hours! Aside from time lost, I had a growing concern: we were slowly being entombed by rising walls of snow drift! By now, our sixth day, they reached almost three feet to the leeway side.


Day 12–False Alarm

May 24, 2010 12:42pm

Conducting psychological tests, or what happens after being pinned down for five days!

Woke up today to the piercing weight of silence. After five days of this brouhaha, the sound of silence, comparatively speaking, can also be piercing. It was four AM, and stirred out of my dreams, it took a moment before I realized that the tent was still! This was reinforced to me when a gust gently fluttered the walls. And then nothing. Elated, I looked to my sleeping partner.


Day 11–A Frigid Ballet

May 23, 2010 7:41pm

Day four weathering the storm–no bathing suit required

There is undeniable poetry in the violent and chaotic expression of nature’s forces. We see it when the sea is angry; when lightning strikes; with torrential tropical rains; or desert sand storms. Events that have inspired artists through the ages, from the renaissance to today. In the midst of a powerful wind storm on the ice, it is easy to be awed by this natural theater, one which plays like a grand, elemental symphony.


Day 10–Not A Teacup Storm!

May 22, 2010 12:15pm

The storm has not relented, increasing in strength and intensity. The tent shook all night long like a ragdoll. Inside, trying to catch sleep can only be described as resting inside a roaring jet engine, so loud is the wind pounding outside at the flimsy nylon walls. Eric and I scream to each other in order to communicate, up until the point when we decide that such effort is not worth the price of admission, and fall back to our respective activities! The violence displayed here is some of the fiercest I have experienced. We estimate the gusts now to be reaching over 80 miles per hour–and hope that the tent will hold up! We joke about it, but have agreed on a plan, in the event of…

The spin drift is intense, finding its way through the slightest opening. Outside, drift banks are constantly building on the side walls and have to be monitored so as not to collapse the tent. Upon stepping out, the drifting snow immediately freezes on the outwear, and lashes the face as it races across the frozen ground. Reaching about two meters in height, this liquid smoke reduces the visibility down to twenty meters or so; but above, the sky is generally visible. Occasionally, the clouds part allowing the sun’s rays to shine through, which makes for an odd, apocalyptic juxtaposition. It is hard to imagine that three days ago we were in shorts and T-shirts, in melting snow, with no wind and clear blue skies!