Day 34–Fooled Again

December 8, 2011 4:13pm

December 8, 2011

S77°54.992 E023°54.197

Elevation 11249 feet

One point one kilometers. That is the distance we covered by kite today. Apart from the 31 meters–the distance we managed on foot during the storm–this is officially our personal worse. It could well be a record, which would balance nicely with the one Eric and I set on Greenland last year at 595 kilometers by kites, in twenty four hours. In this case, it is hard to imagine anyone recording a much shorter distance!

The morning saw dead calm conditions again, and we thought this would be a replay of yesterday–confined to the tent with a forced rest day. But by noon, the tent’s fabric began to flutter. Ever the optimists, we chose to read this as encouraging, and packed up camp. By the time we were ready to launch, the wind remained marginal: 3.3 meters per second, and another North-north-westerly.
“It might pick up. Feels like it wants to,” I ventured tentatively.
“Yes, it’s still early,” Eric replied non committal.
In reality, it was not early: it was 13:30. And given our prior experiences, by midday, the wind rarely strengthened; more the other way. Still, after the sastrugi had its usual tiff with the lines, snagging them on every opportunity in an attempt to prevent the kites from taking off, we managed–just–to get them off the ground. But the pull was hardly convincing. A few slow meters, and a pause. When the sledge buttered against a piece of ice, the pause would extend beyond its welcome, and then fastidiously screech along with more theatrics than gusto. We were going nowhere. During a lull, my kite fell out of the sky and collapsed, lifeless, on the ice. The next weak gust moved it around just enough for the seventy five meter lines to get snagged again! I looked behind me to see Eric’s kite take the shape of a mushroom as it, too, fell to the ground. Twenty minutes, and we had covered one kilometer–or an average speed of three kilometers per hour! We decided to set the tent, as temporary shelter to see if conditions would improve. An hour later, they seemed to pull back some and we called it a day. Twenty minutes after that and the wind had shut off completely. There are times, and this is one of them, where the best thing to do–the only thing to do, in fact–is to surrender. No point in whining. Antarctica is serving us its array of conditions. And at the altitude we are traveling at to reach the POI, weak winds are on the menu.

It was colder today. My thermometer only reads down to 30C below, and by late afternoon it was pointing below that; 35C is my estimate. Even with the sun out, there was no shaking the cooler trends, and no afternoon strollon the ice. We’re going to take this as a good sign. The relative warmth of the last few days has not served the wind well, so change may be afoot. Crunching numbers, we need to average 46.5 kilometers per day between now and the South Pole. All bets are still on.

6 Responses to “Day 34–Fooled Again”

  1. Daniela Maselli says:

    But at least you are optimist and keep your smile for a picture. Wishing you better winds and Best luck!

  2. Karin says:

    I guess one must be a born optmist to go to a place like this, so don’t lose that for you cannot fail, even if it is not going the way you planned, you are out there over am month. That’s unbefuckinglievable!!!

  3. Eva says:

    Don´t care for kilometres, it´s only making you more frustrated, just try to enjoy the beauty around you. The result will be the same, but you will be happier. Remember, journey itself is the goal.

  4. Nothing ever comes easy does it..Best of luck as you continue on your journey,hope and pray that the wind picks up for you.

  5. BASILE says:

    Sur la photographie, Eric est méconnaissable… J’ai cru que vous aviez rencontré “quelqu’un” dans ce nulle part où vous avancez lentement mais sûrement.
    Thank you for your optimism and your sens of humour (always).
    Best wishes for the wind…

  6. dave mitchell says:

    Rock on brother – wising you strong winds from t.o.!

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