Day 8: Skiing in a White out
Skiing in a white out. For eight hours we saw nothing of the terrain.
Mother Nature is playing tricks. Apparently she thinks its funny, and so do I.
End of storm, sky is clear, winds have dropped, ...slept good.
Wake up, open eyes, ...silence. Should be a great day!
Open door, ... nothing. NOTHING! Like sticking you head in a bowl of milk.
Skiing in a white out would be like scuba diving in milk. And the ski mask would emphasize the effect. You can see your skis perfectly, your partner and her pulk. But you cannot see the snow around you, or the horizon ahead, or the sky above.
For eight hours of skiing, we saw nothing of the terrain. Fortunately the ground felt fairly smooth, unlike the past two days of rough sastrugi. So the experience was actually rather fun. And the snow was not too cold, so the sleds pulled much easier.
Taking someone's picture in a white out is like standing in front of a white backdrop a professional photographer uses in the studio. There is no background.
For the past two days of fierce SW wind, I had asked Jenny to ski 45 degrees behind me and to my left - where she was in the lee of my prodigious form, for her protection from the wind. Today she skied in the same position because we found it helped us maintain course. When one of us veered, we both noticed it. The snow is hard, so we find no benefit, here, in following directly behind the leaders tracks.
In a white out, you can also see some of the ground around the person and pulks. But you cannot see anything of the ground around yourself. Out in front, you're skiing blind.
In the late afternoon, the white out is beginning to lift, and we are starting to see the horizon for the first time today. We still can't see the ground around us.
The white out has lifted and we are making camp.
I made the ski pole baskets removable. So at camp I remove the baskets and jam the poles into the snow, to anchor the tent on its windward end. Then I use a pair of skis to anchor the tent midships.
Today we crossed 81° S, so tonight we are celebrating our first milestone with cake and pudding. Only eight degrees of latitude to go.
Note: We are carrying food and fuel for 30 days to our mid-point resupply.
Evening camp: S 81° 06.665' W 81° 43.793'
Today's mileage: 10.5