Day 36: Cameras Frozen All Day
Good day! Wind: 15, tapering to 10 in the afternoon. Sky: blue. Sastrugi: intense and fairly claustrophobic, appeared to be no way through. At least in the morning. But then it started to give way, and we started to pick up a bit of speed. Then at 85 deg 50 min, we were essentially in the clear!! Meaning, there was sastrugi, but only isolated clumps which we could easily find our way through on smooth paths.
About this time we also started to climb, and this lasted for a few hours.
I led all day, with Jenny following close behind. She prefers to follow me because it is easier for her, and gives her a feeling of security. I prefer to lead most of the time because it gives me a sense of openness, and the freedom to choose my own route. Also, when in the lead my mind is free to soar, without distractions.
Occasionally I like to follow, to give my eyes a rest. And usually Jenny does well in her navigation, as long as she has something to steer by, such as a small cloud dead ahead. But when the horizon is empty, such as today with the blue sky, she tends to wander off course. As I wrote in a previous update, I should have made her a bracket that holds the compass directly in front of her. Our home-made arm-mounted compass are very difficult to read.
Regardless of the conditions, I tend to check my compass about once an hour, at the rest stops. I do not have an innate sense of direction, far from it. But over the years I have developed a multitude of observation skills that in effect let me know where I am headed. And with years of practice it has become almost automatic.
For example, in a white out, the light is very subtly different, depending on which way you face. I am sensitive to that within a few degrees. So I begin by orienting myself to the compass, then when I'm skiing, if that light looks the same, I know I am headed in the right direction.
This afternoon was very nice weather as long as you kept moving and kept the rest stops very short. So I enjoyed the afternoon very much. I am in my element here, within limits. That's not to say that our margins are very great. But while skiing I often get a sense of happiness and contentment that comes over me. It simply shows that I am enjoying what I'm doing, and my mind is full of wonderful and creative thoughts.
So, for example, this afternoon I worked on the details of my Next Fun Trip (Climbing Vinson Massif) - not to get ahead of myself with this one. We have a long ways to go yet, to reach the pole.
Speaking of which, this evening we crossed the 86th parallel. Actually we skied a little longer today, and I happened to pull out my GPS and saw that we had crossed it about 50 feet ago. So we made camp here. So we have covered six degrees and have four to go.
Our cameras were frozen all day, so we could take photos only when we reached camp and had warmed the cameras.
This is the foot end of our tent, and the photo is meant to show the amount of ventilation we need when running the stove. And keep in mind that it is very windy outside. When finished with the stove, we close the inner door by 2/3, and same with the inner door on the head end. The inner doors are quite breathable, so we are still getting lots of ventilation throughout the night-time hours.
Speaking of night-time hours, we have our clocks set to Base Camp time, because we need to call them every evening, and we need to be in the tent to make the calls. Base Camp uses Chilean time of UTC-03:00. (The South Pole and McMurdo use New Zealand time of UTC+13:00.)
Evening camp: S 86° 00.033' W 86° 43.702'
Today's mileage: 13.0
Altitude: 5800 ft., Temperature: -18 C