Day 24: A Packman Game
Today we are progressing beyond the beginner junkyard, to the intermediate level with the addition of a frigid south wind blowing at 20 mph and a black, stormy sky. Yes, and the white out.
Making our way in white out conditions.
Hard to imagine, but Jenny can't see what's around her feet. In a white out, you can see your partner ok, and the snow around them, and your sleds and the snow around them. But nothing else. The terrain around your own feet is essentially invisible.
Jenny: And like the Packman game, no matter which way you turn, the sastrugi is there to get you. In fact, I had one particular spill where the sastrugi nearly ate me for lunch, and I needed Ray's help to get me extricated. Are we having fun yet?
During the morning we took hourly turns leading, but Ray took over leading throughout the afternoon after my nasty fall.
After each spill I would pick myself up with a grunt, look ahead to Ray, who waited patiently, and resolve not to fall down again. Ray has not slipped once. He is so solid on his skis, even while maneuvering through the giant sastrugi.
After 8 hours, Ray suggested we quit early. He knew I was tired and I appreciated his concern. But where would we find a flat spot for the tent amidst this white out chaos? True to form, Ray skied right up to a perfect spot and declared us home for the day.
Home for the evening.
Taking a wind reading for the daily call to Base Camp.
Ray: The conditions are particularly challenging this year, and I'm sure all the other expeditions will have their stories as well. With the strong, near-constant headwinds, and the deeply pockmarked terrain, we are certainly getting our moneys worth. Normally, with fairly flat terrain, a white out is merely a inconvenience. But a white out in deep and ubiquitous sastrugi is another matter altogether.
"I have fleeting moments where I think this is outrageous, but the vast majority of time I am enjoying this trip to the max."
Jenny is new to ski trips and winter camping, so she is on the learning curve and doing extremely well.
I too have my fleeting moments where I think this is outrageous, but the vast majority of time I am enjoying this trip to the max. Skiing to the South Pole has long been a dream of mine, and I am just so pleased to have the opportunity to be here. The harsh conditions are just part of the job description.
In these last three weeks we are adapting well, although every day brings new challenges. So we are both on a steep learning curve. Regardless of the conditions, Jenny is always the first one out of the tent in the morning, and I haven't heard one word of complaint the entire trip. As far as adventurers are concerned, she is absolutely top-rate. Her grit and determination have to be seen to be believed, and I see it every day.
Smile for the camera.
Evening camp: S 83° 55.670' W 84° 02.095'
Today's mileage: 9.3 in 8 hrs