Day 1: On the Ice

November 6, 2011 4:46am

November 6,2011

S70°51.333 E011°32.992

Elevation 2128 feet

The six hour night flight was little help in the way of sleep. Still, eager to get on with it, and invigorated by the fresh air, we made final adjustments to the sledges, strapped our skis on, and clipped into the harnesses, and bid farewell to our friends before taking off towards the glacier. Our cargo amounts to just about 400 pounds each on the nose. Over flat terrain, the pull is considerable. As the grade starts to rise, the weight becomes torturous. Add to this the very uneven nature of the ice defined by the wind features–called sastrugi–and before long, the sledges get stuck time and again, forcing a stop, backtrack to lift them by hand, and get moving again. The wind which started light has built to a steady twenty knots, and while the mean temps are still very manageable at 10 below, the wind chill is dropping them by another 15. Given the exhaustive effort required to pull this weight, the cold only sets in on the breaks, which we take every forty five minutes. Unfortunately, we will not kite right away as we need to clear the glacier’s crevasse fields. Time stretches to a stand still: five minutes feel like thirty, as we laboriously gain elevation, gluttons for punishment. The air is cold but very dry. Given the nature of our start, I have had too little to drink and my legs start to cramp up. The sun begins a fast descent below the horizon and after a little over five hours, we call it a day. Not a moment too soon! We have covered about five kilometers. We set up camp one in a hurry to heat up a hot drink. My legs are spent. First challenge, which could have crippling consequences: my iridium phone which worked at the station well enough to send the last dispatch, is now NG. Impossible to switch it on; different batteries, a recharge–nothing does it. With only one phone, the expedition is in serious jeopardy. Outside, the wind is howling. Without the sun, the temperature inside the tent is frigid. In the morning, I contact the base to see if they can spare an iridium or a PLB. Luck is on our side, with only five kilometers they drive one over. We are back on for another day of pain!

3 Responses to “Day 1: On the Ice”

  1. marc scarpa says:

    Have a an Amazing Journey… Los Angeles, warm tea, sunshine and good friends are awaiting your safe return.


    • Harry says:

      Bon voyage a l’avance!You and me may exnachge the same trip.Half of my mind is already there.Take care of Tha Tha to heat,water,food…..etc.Gyidaw

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