Day 32: Sastrugi on top of Sastrugi
If all the days were this tough, I might stay home and play checkers instead. Either that or take it up a notch and get used to it. Wow! We burned some blubber today.
The day started with heavy sleds, that seemed to get heavier as time went on. Yet all was going well for the first five minutes, until we encountered the sastrugi. But this was different. In the past it was sastrugi next to sastrugi. But here it was sastrugi on top of sastrugi.
We were crossing a wide area where the wind funneled between two mountains, and had churned the ice to chaos. It was like a short, choppy sea frozen in time. There was no route through, and time after time a wave caught the sleds and brought us to a halt.
Jenny struggling to climb the slope.
As Jenny was sliding down a hill, her sled overtook her and caused her to crash.
After eight hours of such slow going, we came to an area of different terrain: blue ice. Flat, and ice-rink hard, at the foot of the mountains. The problem was, it was very slippery. We had to ski very slowly and carefully.
Sprinkled on the ice here and there were stones of all sizes. Probably the wind picked them up and flung them down here from the mountains. Jenny picked up a couple and put them in her pocket.
Over dinner we studied them. I thought I knew rocks pretty well, but I have never seen anything like these two. One was coal black and reminiscent of slate, but without the layers; smooth and homogeneous. The other sample reminds us of coarse granite. It comprises large crystals of quartz and what have you.
Mount Walcott, east shoulder.
At the end of the day we had to find a make-shift camp, a small, tent-sized spot in the sea of sastrugi, on the east flank of Mount Walcott.
Evening camp: S 85° 21.199' W 87° 02.019'
Today's mileage: 11.7 in 10 hrs
Snow flurries, Temperature: -14 C