Day 40: The Disappearing Hill
"That's the nice thing about Antarctica. When you get tired of looking at the same old snowy landscape, a white out comes along and erases it. Then, when the white out finally clears, you are glad to have the landscape to look at again."
Blue sky, 15 mph wind, cold but not as cold as yesterday, sastrugi moderate. Funny thing: the hill we were climbing disappeared.
We have seen this happen many times. In the late afternoon (when tired) we labor slowly up a steep hill, and finally select a campsite which appears very steep. But once in the tent, the ground feels level. Then in the morning, when stepping out we are very surprised to find the terrain appears level on all sides. Many times while skiing we agree on the steepness, but not always. For example, this afternoon Jenny was climbing and I was skiing on level ground.
A sudden white out has erased the landscape.
We were weaving our way through the sastrugi, about an hour into our day, when a batch of clouds moved in from the SE. An hour later it was snowing, and we were groping along in a white out, which lasted the rest of the day.
That's the nice thing about Antarctica. When you get tired of looking at the same old snowy landscape, a white out comes along and erases it. Then, when the white out finally clears, you are glad to have the landscape to look at again.
The white out finally begins to clear.
Our face masks look pretty durpy but they do keep us warm.
At day's end we set up camp, using the technique of pitching the tent and looking under it to see the ground for suitability. We crawled into the tent, and within minutes the sun popped out.
Writing this update.
In direct sun, the tent absorbs a great amount of solar heat. But what the sun giveth, the wind taketh away. Even 5 or 10 knots of wind stabs like a driven knife. It has a tremendous cooling effect. But for the first time this evening, there was no wind. So we enjoyed our warmest time in the tent, ever. Never mind the minus 15 degrees Celsius outside, it was so warm in the tent, we had to leave both doors partially open for an hour or so.
Today we crossed 86 deg 40 min, which is 2/3 the way to the pole. We have come about 500 miles, and we have 225 miles left, and counting.
Evening camp: S 86° 43.630' W 86° 44.189'
Today's mileage: 12.1 in 10 hrs
Altitude: 6415 ft., Temperature: -15 C