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

2006-12-14 page 37 of 67

Day 34: White Out and Mild-Mannered Sastrugi


We are about to set off for the day's skiing

More fun and games at the junk yard. Actually, for the first hour we could see where we were going, and we could see the sastrugi. It wasn't very big, nothing over two feet high. But it was sharp-edged and ubiquitous.


Nolan Pillar recedes in the distance.



As the cloud cover developed, the light slowly started to go flat. In what I call flat light, you think you can see fairly well, but every now and then you are surprised by something you did not see - a ledge, a shelf, or a projection stopping the sled.


The light is progressing from flat to an all-out white out. Looking ahead, this is our last view of the horizon.

Then, as the white out develops you can see virtually nothing. And getting through the sastrugi becomes extremely slow and strenuous. In good visibility you can avoid the worst spots by going around them, but in a white out you can't see the worst spots. You only can feel them, and by then you find yourself caught in the fray.


In a white out, you can't see the ground around you, or the terrain ahead.

When you encounter what feels like a steep ledge, you can side-step and sometimes go around. More often than not though, there is a blockage to either side, so you have to go straight though. This may take up to a minute.

And always there's a projection that stops the sled. This happens 3 or 4 times a minute.

Fortunately the sastrugi today was mild compared to the last two days. A white out there would have reduced our progress to just a few miles a day. As it was today we covered 10.5 miles in 10 hours, almost 1 mile an hour.


Taking a lunch stop (ice on the lens).



In light of the circumstances, we think we did pretty well. Tonight in the tent we are tired but happy.

Also today, the cloud cover brought much warmer temperatures, and there was no wind to speak of. For a few hours, it was the first time we have not worn our face masks. For the last hour, Jenny took off her goggles and ski parka and used her sunglasses. It made me think she'd gone tropo. Except for the falling snow.

Finding a campsite was an interesting challenge. With Jenny ahead of me I could barely make out some terrain features within 2 feet either side of her sled. Finally we came to a small, flat, and level spot. We took off our skis and walked around it to get a feel for it. Also I tested the snow with our shovel to determine how frozen it was. That done, we pitched the tent, and then looked under it - whereupon we were dismayed to see small sastrugi that would have been too uncomfortable to sleep on and to hard to chop. As luck would have it, by moving the tent and looking again, and again, we found a tent-sized place that had sastrugi only in the vestibule.


Here is what our snow skirt looks like, before I cover it with snow.


Most of ground so far is so hard you cannot get a shovel into it. So we have to find soft frozen snow to camp on. With a little effort you can pry out a shovel-sized chunk of soft frozen snow. With these I cover the tent's snow skirt, all around the perimeter.

I also make a big pile at our front door, which Jenny then chops into pot-sized pieces for melting water. These pot-sized pieces she then piles neatly to one side of the vestibule for easy access.

Amazing to think that of this ice, we can make steaming hot cuppas at the end of the day.

Evening camp: S 85° 39.877' W 86° 40.702'

Today's mileage: 10.5 in 10 hrs Temperature: -5 C

The story has 67 pages. This is page 37.
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