Title Page
  Preparations Arizona USA
  Preparations Punta Arenas, Chile
  Day 1: Antarctica!
  Day 2: First Taste of the Wind
  Day 3: Close Call
  Day 4: A Beautiful Day
  Day 5: The Wedge Design
  Day 6: Circle of Survivability
  Day 7: Mountains to our West
  Day 8: Skiing in a White out
  Day 9: Jenny Unleashed
  Day 10: Face Mask Freezing to the Nose
  Day 11: Howling Winds and Rough Terrain
  Day 12: Sledging away from the Maritime Influence
  Day 13: Rocking out
  Day 14: Frozen Face Mask
  Day 15: Coldest and Windiest Place on Earth
  Day 16: Skiing on Frozen Rubble
  Day 17: Tracks!
  Day 18: Slogging into Fierce Headwinds
  Day 19: First Sponge Bath
  Day 20: Playing in the Junkyard
  Day 21: Three Weeks, One-Third of the Distance
  Day 22: Playing in the Junkyard, Part 2
  Day 23: The otherworldly Glowing Blue Light
  Day 24: A Packman Game
  Day 25: The vision must be kept
  Day 26: Frozen Cameras
  Day 27: Low Margins of Safety in Strong Winds
  Day 28: Anomalies in the flat Antarctica myth
  Day 29: Thiels Mountains Visible in the Distance
  Day 30: The Half-Way Point
  Day 31: Mid-Journey Resupply
  Day 32: Sastrugi on top of Sastrugi
  Day 33: Skiing Alongside the Thiels
  Day 34: White Out and Mild-Mannered Sastrugi
  Day 35: Difficult Terrain
  Day 36: Cameras Frozen All Day
  Day 37: Alone in an Immense Wilderness
  Day 38: Warm weather and sleds are dragging hard
  Day 39: Climbing to the Polar Plateau
  Day 40: The Disappearing Hill
  Day 41: Extreme Fun
  Day 42: Seven Down, Three to Go
  Day 43: If your ski tips have no shadow, stop quick!
  Day 44: A Strange Object Flies Overhead
  Day 45: Perils of Crossing a Body-Heat Rubicon
  Day 46: Inspired to Greater Heights
  Day 47: Antarctica's Double Sun
  Day 48: Eight Degrees Down, Two To Go
  Day 49: Skiing in the Tropic of Antarctica
  Day 50: The Sun and its Antics
  Day 51: Short Antarctic Summers Wait for No One
  Day 52: Showers and laundry perhaps? No chance
  Day 53: Gaining the Polar Plateau
  Day 54: Good Weather, Fairly Flat Terrain
  Day 55: Climbing the Same Hill for Three Days
  Day 56: Cold but Very Pretty
  Day 57: Gorgeous Weather, Enjoyable Day
  Day 58: Almost There
  Day 59: The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
  The Flight to Patriot Hills
  Patriot Hills
  Mount Vinson
  Patriot Hills

Skiing to South Pole

Fierce Winds, Ultra-Cold Temperatures

Adventures in Antarctica

58 days, 700 mi, Nov 2006 - Jan 2007

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2006-11-25 page 18 of 67

Day 15: Coldest and Windiest Place on Earth


Welcome to Antarctica - coldest and windiest place on Earth.


Sledging in very strong headwinds


The winds are katabatic and flow down and away from the pole. Today the wind is especially strong, and the wind chill is off the charts. Base Camp is reporting gusts of 55 knots.


The ground blizzard consists of blowing ice crystals, not snow. These crystals are quite heavy, compared to snow, so they don't rise above the surface more than a few inches. They make the ground look blurry. And the horizon too.


Notice the wake behind my sled and Jenny's.

Partly cloudy, cold, and 10 knots more wind than we had yesterday. Welcome to Antarctica - the coldest and windiest place on Earth.

We bundled up in second shirts and pants, and set off at 8:30, half an hour later than usual. In the strong winds, packing up camp takes us longer.

In wind this strong Jenny prefers to ski alongside me. This helps me too, because it means the leader can keep much better tabs on the other person without having to turn around frequently, which in high winds is more difficult than it sounds.

"Welcome to Antarctica - the coldest and windiest place on Earth."

Also it is much safer that way, because we can render help to the other at short notice when needed. In wind chill this low, our margins run pretty thin. So we keep a close eye on each other. A few times a day one of us will need help immediately, for example where the face mask is iced and pressing against the nose, or cold air is getting in around the neck. The other person can identify and fix the problem quickly.

All was proceeding slowly until we reached the hill. It did not look like much, and in good weather it is probably not. But as the hours passed, it started to feel like Everest to us. We had been skiing on iced sastrugi all morning, but this was iced sastrugi on an incline. And not only that, but the fierce wind was doing its best to try and blow us back down the hill. It was very hard work for not much progress.

Finally with our energy starting to flag, and no end of the hill in sight, we started looking for a place to camp. In the morning we had passed plenty of good places to camp - flat, level, and hard snow, not ice. But here on the hill, we had just the opposite. Finally we found a suitable spot.


Jenny has unzipped her ski jacket to get at the wind meter.


We have stopped to make camp. Time to put on the insulated jacket because the body is no longer generating enough metabolic warmth when not sledging.


Taking a wind reading.

We prefer to camp on hard snow because with our snow shovel we can cover the tent's snow skirt with hefty chunks of snow. And we can chop pot-size chunks of snow for melting.

After safely pitching the tent, it took us another 45 minutes to sweep out the snow and ice from the tent, brush the spindrift from our gear bags, and make the tent comfortable inside.

Finally a hot cuppa, and it sure tasted good.

Note: PH is reporting gusts of 55 knots.

Hours traveled: 8.5, today's mileage: 10.3.

The story has 67 pages. This is page 18.
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