Day 4–Climbing

November 9, 2011 11:13am

November 8, 2011

S70°57.857′ E011°27.003′

Elevation 3338ft

We woke up to absolute stillness, and the sun was again baking the inside of the tent. Upon stepping outside, the day’s temperature and conditions stood in stark contrast to yesterday’s: no a cloud in the sky and this again promised to be T-shirt weather (yesterday was about 35 below with the wind!).

Ahead of us stood the nasty hill that had stopped our day and was now looming. The fresh look of the morning reconnects you with the positive outlook that got you here in the first place. And then reality sets in again! The grade was nasty–around 25%–and the effort intense. Luckily, the sastrugi was more moderate on the hillside. We weaved away from the more obvious crevasses and selected carefully the bridges that we crossed. All these crevasses are hidden by ice cover–bridges–and would barely be noticeable but for the slight depression in the terrain. We managed 200 feet of rise in the first hour; 100 in the second. By then we reached a first plateau. There was a slight breeze coming in from the west. Enough to fly the big kite? Given the brutal workout of the morning, it did not take much arguing! We quickly switched to ski boots, pulled the kites out and proceeded to unwind the 75 meters of lines. Mine had slight tangles and took me about 20 minutes to manage. Luckily, it wasn’t too cold and I could worked mostly without gloves. When done, however, I looked over at Eric who was handling what amounted to a fishing net’s worth of knotted mess! When the kite lifted in a jerk, he had accidentally released a whole section of line from the quick winding tools I had custom made. We spent the next two hours finding a way through that mess. Untangling such a pile of lines is like an endless series of little projects that don’t seem to add up to much except, little by little, we got to the end of it. By then, we both attempted to fly the kites. I managed about 20 feet after running like a convict to get it up in the air and flying. The wind had died. Eric did not even get his skis on. Today was a lot of work, with little to show for. But we did manage that hill… We covered a meager 1.46 miles. We haven’t even gotten started!

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