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. The direction switched from crosswinds to tailwinds by midday and came down for the last five hours. We moved up to to the bigger 12 and 14 meter Yakuzas and negotiated slower downwind travel speeds for the rest of the day.

At this time of the year as we approach the summer solstice, and for this latitude, the sun both rises and sets more or less in the North as it circles around the top of the planet. That means that effectively, we rode both into the sunset and the sunrise while on the same bearing! Both glorious, with just the right sprinkling of clouds to light up those reds! We also witnessed a magnificent full orange moonrise, made more spectacular for the refraction off the ice that split the moon in two, giving it a shape oddly reminiscent of a mushroom!

We did well in distance. But moving at speed over sastrugi that can reach a foot in thickness is like strapping a jackhammer on your back while bouncing over the ice terrain for hours. Every muscle and bone in you body rattles, and twelve hours of that gives the right and left hemisphere of your brain a chance to meet! By the time we stopped, it was clear that we were not the only ones rattling and rolling: four sledges pounding over the ice four so many hours took its toll on the cargo. The inside of both Eric’s and my sledges were covered in various electrlytes and protein powders, the bags of which literally exploded during travel! This covered just about everything with a sticky dusting that spared no item in the sledges. Clothes bags. Sleeping bags. Jackets. Sleeping matts. Electronics. As we wobbled sorely out of our harnesses, the satisfaction of the miles covered was mitigated by an one hour attempt at a clean up job. One of Eric’s peanut bag and literally been crushed into a schunky butter substance!

We collapsed on top of our sticky bags and slept for hours. By nighttime, an ice fog had settled with not a whiff of wind. I dosed out of sleep to frost on my sleeping bag. We had passed out with the tent’s flaps open to ventillate the daytime’s greenhouse heat. By now, the condensation had frozen with the low temperatures and the whole tent was frosted over! I looked over at Eric, peaceful in his sleep. Settled deep inside the bag, I clentched my teeth and passed out again.

3 Responses to “Day 16–Sastrugi and Sticky Stuff”

  1. Great news, happy the orogress continues, love seeing the pix, keep ’em coming – happy kiting!!

  2. Hah – “progress” that was meant to be!!

  3. sophie says:

    Clean up… By such a temperature… Happy to read you finally move again.

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