Day 44–Stormed in…and out

December 18, 2011 7:11pm

December 18, 2011

S81°06.062 E044°11.046

Elevation 11879 feet

It is a function of being out in the cold for weeks at a time and pretty soon, minus 20C feels like a warm day. I remember walking to the North Pole a couple of years back, and after struggling with temperatures of 55C below (65C with wind-chill), breaking up in sweats anytime it got above 25C below. Today, with the sun out and the wind in our back, in minus 20C I was roasting! I wore only two layers–three if you count my Village People mesh top, which is designed specifically to prevent sweat from sticking to the smart wool base layer–and all vents open. Napapijri, who has been my great clothing partner and has made all my expedition outerwear since 2005, has provided us again with some terrific and warm gear for this mission. But even with just the Skidoo jacket, stripped down of the fiber fill (and used only as a wind breaker with fur hood) I was sweating bullets. This had partly to do with flying the thirteen meter Frenzy’s on the downwind tack in some pretty rough sastrugi ridden terrain.

Strong wind battered the tent all night and we were stormed in for most of the day. It looked as though we’d be confined inside again, another day lost, and struggling to find a rhythm that seemed, in the last few days, lost to weather and frostbite tending. The storm that had hit Novo yesterday may well have reached us after all, even if with less force. The morning spectacle displayed all types of cloud systems, and periods of sun backlighting the blowing snow that accumulated large snow banks around the camp. The wind was also defining ominous chunks of sastrugi and further chewing up the landscape that sooner or later we’d have to ride over. But by mid afternoon, the furry was calming down; and by 16:00 we were packing our things, choosing to make a run for it in an attempt to save the day and put in some miles.
We lifted off at 17:00, ready for another wild rodeo. In fact, the wind had delivered a lot of soft snow, and though the ride was athletic–averaging about twenty kilometers per hour– the sastrugi was surprisingly soft on the skis. We even reached a patched of flat terrain, something that we had not seen in over two weeks. It did not last, of course, and soon we were back to bucking over the ice, the sledge popping in and out of the air every time a ramp was unavoidable.

In three hours, we managed 53.63 kilometers, but also rose in altitude. We are now at 11880 feet (3621 meters) and still rising. Most importantly, my toe is still in stable condition, and it appears in the early stage of healing. I am not sure if, and what I might lose from it (perhaps a few millimeters from the crown) but the boot and warmer climate have kept it toasty again today, which is good news. One rib seems to have completely healed, while the other only aches when I sneeze. Who knows: by the end of the trip I may be good as new!
We are now 209 kilometers from the POI. We can practically smell it!

5 Responses to “Day 44–Stormed in…and out”

  1. Harald Golbach says:

    Hi seb, hi Eric (unknowingly )
    I! So happy After reading Day 44!
    That’s really Good news, specially ” The toe Story”
    Conrgrat. and Keep on flying
    I can smell it too. All my Love and Prayers

  2. Pamela says:

    Dearest Sebastian! Happy Holidays! It’s 55 degrees at the Hollywood Sign and I’m freezin’! We all admire your stalwart courage! Twinkly Bliss, Pamela

  3. Ryan Gentry says:

    Sweating at minus 20C. Crazy! Glad to read you both had a good day. I’ll be thinking warm thoughts for your toe.
    Keep flying!

  4. Carolin says:

    I am so incredibly proud of you Schatzi. I am with you every step you take, praying every day for you. I love you so much. The time will fly until you are back. Your toe was really a big concern for me. As I see these bad healing wounds every day in the hospital I was really worried. I am so relieved that it looks better now….I trust your decision and I know you would not take to much risk. Health goes over everything else…
    I will take you with me to “our” Cape Town end of next week, and l will think of you when I will be walking up Lion´s head where we got

  5. BASILE says:

    I am not surprised that you reach your goal as you have planned it. And good news for your toe.
    Congratulations Sebastian and Eric

Leave a Reply