Day 41: Extreme Fun
"If you have ever worn a shirt that was frozen under the armpits, then you know how uncomfortable that can be."
I always report the day's weather first because it is so important to us. For example, if it's cold and windy, then you know we are having fun despite the cold and wind. Or if there's a white out, then you know we are having fun despite the white out. And so forth.
Are we having fun? You bet! Would I recommend this trip to everyone? Not on your life. Unless you enjoy what I call "Extreme Fun" (Note: I coined the term.)
With no jacket I was comfortable for 15 minutes, until my shirt started to freeze under the armpits.
Today's weather was a little bit of everything all rolled into one. Except a white out and that just missed us by a hair.
The day started out sunny and warm. While skiing I overheated and was about to take off a shirt, a 10 minute affair because of my ski jacket and bibs with their suspenders. My GPS and camera are attached to the suspenders. So these have to come off first. Jenny reminded me of the fact that we are climbing to the polar plateau where the weather can change fast. So I took off my ski jacket instead. I noticed that it was all white and frosty inside. But that stopped the sweating and the goggles fogging, and I was comfortable for 15 minutes, until my shirt started to freeze under the armpits. If you have ever worn a shirt that was frozen under the armpits, then you know how uncomfortable that can be. So I put my jacket back on and skied a little harder to thaw out.
Next on the agenda was a patch of cirrus that grew by leaps and bounds until it filled practically the entire sky.
A 10-knot wind sprung up from the east (!) and soon I noticed that although the surface winds were east, a low band of clouds, probably 200 feet above the ground, was moving in from the southwest. Bizarre.
The SW horizon quickly darkened and before long snow was falling lightly. Then the most amazing miniature snowstorm approached, with low and dark clouds. Fortunately it missed us. In the next hour two more missed us. These would have been white outs for sure.
A miniature snowstorm approaching fast. A white out for sure. Fortunately it missed us.
Next, the snowstorms vanished to the NW and a band of ominous ultra-high cirrus moved in, and began to dance in front of us like ribbons of aurora. Never have I seen such a fantastic show. At one point, they formed a double helix, as though wrapping around a giant tornado.
A quick moving double helix made a fantastic sight.
Jenny enjoying the show.
In the next half hour the fantastic clouds moved off, the sky cleared, and the wind began to blow, sending rivers of spindrift flowing across the ice. The wind brought cold temperatures, minus 20 degrees C. That situation persisted for the rest of the day.
For terrain, we had a mix of everything as well. From miles of flats where the skiing was relatively fast and easy, (and by the way, the ground for the last few days has been hard as a rock, very little powder), to the afternoon's sastrugi, which at times were 6 or 7 feet high. We spent a lot of time threading a route through them, and we spent a lot of energy going up and over, and back down the other sides.
Threading a route through the sastrugi.
Then it was time for the late afternoon hill climb.
All in all a very interesting day.
Evening camp: S 86° 55.377' W 86° 35.846'
Today's mileage: 13.6
Altitude: 6850 ft., Temperature: -20 C