Day 7: Mountains to our West
Clear skies give the impression of warmth, until you factor in the strong winds. A good morning for sleeping in, but only for an extra hour.
I shall describe our morning ritual, in brief. Open eyes and pack the quilt into its stowbag, being very careful to not touch the walls of the tent with it. Same with the big down coats and pants. We brought our Greenland quilt to save a bit of weight, hence the coats and pants. That done, we are ready for our shower ... of frost which rains down on us when we inadvertently touch the walls of our small tent. We wear our expedition clothes to bed, in fact we never take them off, so the frost shower inside has the same effect as the blowing spindrift outside. Not much bother.
By the time we are ready to emerge, the inside of the tent looks more like a snow cave, with about a half-gallon of frost on the floor. I hand things out the door while Jenny loads the sleds, then last one out (me) sweeps the walls and floor, nice and tidy like.
The strong headwinds slow us down, but we keep grinding away. Above the howling wind we listen to music for the first time on this trip, until the batteries freeze. The player is not close enough to the skin ... better luck next time.
Our zippers also froze, preventing us from taking photos throughout the day. Suffice it to say, the day was very windy with a strong ground blizzard.
The last hour the wind diminished to 15, the horizon cleared, and we were surprised to see a mountain appear in the distance to our west.
Jenny wearing her home-made down parka. It's too warm to ski in, but we carry it handy in the pulk in case she needs the extra warmth.
Out of the storm, mountains appear in the distance to our west.
We have stopped to make camp, but haven't yet stepped off our skis. Here, I'm using the GPS to get our position. We must know our position every evening, for the evening call to Base Camp with our satellite phone. If we miss this call, the people at Base Camp will fly to our rescue, and that would end the trip. Also in this photo I've taken off my mitt, and so my yellow inner glove is visible. This glove is a vapor barrier, to prevent moisture coming off the hand from getting into the mitt. It is a simple dish-washing glove from a hardware store.
My final job outside is to chop bricks out of snow and place them into the vestibule. Jenny uses these blocks for cooking and melting water on the stove.
Today we use the stove inside the tent for the first time. The difference in warmth was amazing! In fact, a real game changer. The day's struggles with the fierce winds are reflected in our faces.
With the cozy warmth from the stove, and a nearby mug of steaming brew, I am writing my daily update. When finished writing, I will use the sat-phone to upload it to my web server in the states.
Evening camp: S 80° 57.611' W 81° 34.177'
Today's hours: 8, mileage: 9.3