Getting On With It!

March 31, 2009 8:56pm

Getting On With It.

85.7530N, 076.7906

The lead we camped by yesterday froze enough overnight to allow us to cross
it this morning. We put our skis on to distribute the load, and chose a
narrow section, about 150 feet wide. Keith went first. We unclipped
from our sledges, tied a rope to it and very carefully treaded on the
flexing ice. I fed the rope–a safety line in the event that he would
go in the drink! Problem was: our rope was only a hundred feet. When
Keith ran out of length, I pushed his sledge onto the ice. But our
combined weight was too much and my leg went in as the ice cracked
below me! Amazing to think that my left leg was dangling above probably
a few thousand feet of depth of the arctic ocean! The wetness almost
immediately turned to frost; in this environment open water (it freezes
at about F 27 degrees due to the salt content) is considerably warmer
than the air temperature which today was slightly warmer at minus F 31
degrees or so. We sent my sledge next and I followed the same way,
feeling the flex of the ice… It was high drama, and a good way to
bypass this obstacle. Open leads and pressure ridges are the biggest
challenges to North Pole travelers. We chose to ski and in the process
I broke another pole–I had broken one yesterday! We skied hard and for
the first time we began to grow into our rhythm. We might have done
better mileage but for the many rubble areas we are still dealing with.
This quantity of rubble and pressure ridges is consistent with newly
formed–and therefore weaker–ice. Multi year ice, which is almost all
gone in the arctic sea, tends to be thicker and smoother. It has more
structural integrity. It is amazing to consider the awesome power of
currents and winds crushing multi tons chuncks of solid ice like twigs,
and piling them on top of oneanother like a auto salvage yard!
traveled for 9 hours and covered 6.5 nautical miles true
north–probably skied more like 9-10 considering the detours from
ridges. Overall a good day. Frostbites are under control, people. No
panic! Our current position is N85°45.179 and W76°47.466. Good night
and thanks for staying with us.

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