Contents
  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
  Aconcagua

Skiing to South Pole

Fierce Winds, Ultra-Cold Temperatures

Adventures in Antarctica

58 days, 700 mi, Nov 2006 - Jan 2007

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2006-12-03 page 26 of 67

Day 23: The otherworldly Glowing Blue Light

The first we do in morning, after using the peeing cups, is to light the stove and melt more snow for drinking water. Typically, in the evening we had melted eight liters, including hot cuppas and dinner. Then at night we drink a great deal to help rehydrate. So by morning we have run out of water, and have to melt four more liters to meet our needs throughout the day.

We are presently using 425 ml of stove fuel per day, for two people. (212.5 ml per person, per day.)

So this morning we rose at 6:00 am and started melting snow, and mopping the tent walls. The condensation wasn't too bad this morning. We are having less condensation in the tent all the time. No more morning showers, as long as we are careful.

It takes us 2.5 hours from rising to skiing, including an hour melting snow. Meanwhile we are getting dressed, with an additional 45 minutes to finish dressing and putting things away. Then another 45 minutes to load the sleds and pack away the tent.

The only problem we have, and it isn't much of a problem, but it happens every day while pitching the tent in the evening and un-pitching it the next morning, is that a certain two tent pole segments freeze together. It happens on the same two pole segments above where we use the stove. To unfreeze them, we have to rub them vigorously with our gloves on, to create thawing friction.

We pack the tent away without removing the poles from the sleeves. This makes a five-foot long sausage that fits nicely in my sled. This greatly facilitates pitching it again the following evening.

As we gain altitude, the temperature is dropping. Tonight we are at almost 4,800 feet, and the temperature is -26 degrees C. The temperature doesn't vary from night to day because the sun stays above the horizon 24 hours.

Today the sun was shining, and the wind was 15 out of the SSE. We spent the day galumphing through the sastrugi which makes skiing and sledging twice as difficult. Added to that, the cold temperature increased the friction of the sled runners on the snow, making it often feel like we were dragging in sand.

photo

Thankfully we are not playing in the junkyard today, because some of the sastrugi is quite large.

photo

In a white out, getting through something like that would require a great deal of time and effort. You can't see the way around, so you have to go through. But sometimes that doesn't work, and you have to find a way around - by feel.

photo

photo

Again the skiing looks pretty straightforward, until you look at my tracks. What appears to be somewhat flat ground is actually a series of ridges and deep cleavages. My skis and sled runners are hitting only the high points, what few they are. It's like skiing over a cattle guard that has 18 inch spacing between the rails.

photo

We were sledging along and suddenly saw something glowing in the distance. It was so odd that we had to make a bee-line for it, to see what it was. It looked otherworldly, like something from outer space. We wondered how could something be glowing like that. As we drew near, we could now see what it was, a sastrugi with the sunlight playing through at just the right angle. But we still couldn't quite grasp it. This was the first color in the natural world we had seen since starting the trip 23 days ago. We just stood there staring at it for several minutes. Talk about sensory deprivation, when something like that can draw us in, like a magnet. Like flying insects are drawn to a street lamp.

photo

We alternated leads for an hour each. In the afternoon the wind increased to 20, so we couldn't take a sit-down break all day because of the wind-chill factor.

photo

photo

After 10 hours we were glad to stop for the day, and to take welcome shelter inside the tent.

photo

The inside my face mask, covered in ice. To take the mask off, I have to kneel over the stove with my face just above the stove, to melt enough ice to permit removal. The ice doesn't touch my skin, but my hair and beard are firmly embedded.

photo

A crown popped out this evening. With no access to a dentist, I will have to wait. Fortunately, it didn't cause any pain, but I will have to be careful with the chewing.

Evening camp: S 83° 47.633' W 83° 58.4944'

Today's mileage: 13.9 in 10 hrs

Altitude: 4,797'; Temperature: -26C

The story has 67 pages. This is page 26.
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