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

2006-12-18 page 41 of 67

Day 38: Warm weather and sleds are dragging hard

We wake up at 6:00 am and look out the doorway - can't see nuthin'. Rub the eyes and try again. Still nothing. Looks like more playing in the junkyard for today.

By the time we had our skis on, sled traces attached to our harnesses, over-mitts clipped to our ski poles and put on, the time was 7:30 and the white out had downgraded to flat light. We were on our way.

Fifteen minutes later we were sweating and had to stop to shed a few clothes. Never mind the snow falling. The temperature had risen to -4 C.

The wind was very light and the sastrugi has eased up, for now, and we had little trouble finding our way though.

But the sleds were dragging hard, as if the brakes were on. I went the first hour wondering if it was me having a low energy day, or if the sleds were having a problem. Finally it donned on me that we were climbing. And so it went most of the day.

There seems to be two kinds of hills on our route to the South Pole: those that look like hills, and those that look flat. Then, there are two types of flat ground: ground that looks flat, and ground that looks like a hill. After so much time spent looking at the landscape, with nothing for reference, you lose touch of what is what. I have yet to figure out a technique for judging slope on this trip.

photo

photo

We were dressed lightly; only one thermal undershirt and our ski parkas. No neck gaiters (I usually wear two), no neck scarves, and the hoods of our parkas were down, leaving just the fleece face masks. In these warm temperatures, fogging of the goggles is a problem. So at the rest stops we take off the goggles to prevent serious fogging, although we always ski with the goggles on (actually, Jenny wore her dark glasses today). But to leave the eyes exposed for very long is very dangerous. Sure enough, by late afternoon my eyes began to hurt. I took this as a shot over the bow; a reminder to not remove the eye protection for more than a few moments. I changed my goggles for the heavy-duty, silver-mirror versions, and also went back to wearing my scarf over my face mask. Fortunately within a couple hours my eyes no longer hurt.

The sky started to clear just a bit, the snowfall stopped, and the temperature went back down and stayed there. Then the clouds moved back and the light went flat. Another hour of this and it was time to find a campsite.

In a white out you can only find a camp by feel. In flat light you can find a campsite visually, but you really can't see the surface that well to see how smooth it is, or how sloped. So we used our technique of pitching the tent, then looking under it and moving it as many times as necessary. This only takes a few minutes, and so far it has worked.

Backing up to yesterday, we are carrying five 1-liter cans of fuel, and also three 1-gallon cans. It was time to fill the bottles, and so we made a fuel filter out of a piece of mesh and a length of elastic over our funnel. Then it was time to check the contents of the nearly empty bottles to see what kind of debris they contained. Note: these were new bottles at the start of the trip.

Two bottles were clean, but the other three - I couldn't believe what I found. No wonder the stove had been acting up. In one bottle, which contained half an inch of fuel, there was quite a bit of debris of all sizes that looked like black sand, but it was not sitting on the bottom, nor was it floating. There also was a small amount of what looked like water.

That is the good part. The bad part - there was a thing sitting on the bottom that looked like a polliwog. It was cream-colored and about 7/8 inch long. Another bottle had much the same thing but the cream-colored whatever (not shaped like anything) was smaller. I absolutely could not believe my eyes. [Probably frozen water]

We decanted the fuel remaining, emptied the bottles of the debris, and then with our make-shift filter we opened a gallon can and filled all the bottles. Sure enough, there was debris in that can also (and also rust on the outside top of the can).

photo

Evening camp: S 86° 21.539' W 86° 48.853'

Today's mileage: 12.7 in 10 hrs

Altitude: 6230 ft., Temperature: -18 C

The story has 67 pages. This is page 41.
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