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

2006-11-12 page 5 of 67

Day 2: First Taste of the Wind

The night was very cold. We had cooked dinner in the vestibule, so there was not much heat from the stove coming into the tent. We slept in all of our clothes, including down jackets and insulated pants. During the night the wind picked up, and the ground blizzard made us close the tent door tightly to keep the spindrift out. The condensation inside the tent grew fierce and formed ice and ice crystals on the walls. In retrospect, it was our coldest night on the trip, as we had not learned how to manage our heat.

Yesterday we were going north toward the coast. Our intent was to kite ski to Hercules Inlet, then turn around and ski to the Pole. But this morning the wind was quite strong. Jenny wanted to stick to our original plan, but I now had reservations. I felt that we had our hands full adjusting to the cold and wind, and that if we introduced the additional element of kite skiing we might be in over our heads. As always, my philosophy is to never cross a Rubicon.

Also, I had reservations about continuing even sledging north. Not that it was dangerous. But yesterday it surprised us that we were going so slowly. Now it seemed a waste of time to keep going north when our ultimate goal was to go south to the pole. So with a great deal of reluctance we changed our plans. This camp would have to be our furthest point north.

Plan "B," which we devised on the spot, was to ski back to Patriot Hills and re-sort our gear and resupplies, and head to the Pole. So we broke camp and set our compasses on a reciprocal bearing, because we had long lost sight of Patriot Hills. The wind was now in our faces, and extremely cold.

photo

In the morning, we found that the ground blizzard had covered our campsite with snow.

photo

We have broken camp and packed the sleds.

photo

photo

This is the last photo of the day, because both of our cameras froze and would not work any more. We had not yet learned to keep them warm, or at least above freezing.

When we reached the Base Camp at Patriot Hills, three hours later, I had a lot of ice inside my face mask, and we felt like we had just returned from a severely cold weekend outing, when in fact we were barely getting started with this trip.

The staff welcomed us back and invited us into their little hut for hot soup and tea. We talked to a few of the staff members, and we all agreed that we had just completed a successful shakedown trip, giving us a chance to test gear and ourselves before setting out for the pole.

Back outside, we collected our gear bags containing all of our food and gear, and in the strong wind we re-located into the lee outside of a large tent. For one thing, we were carrying the kiting gear, and we would not need that for the south-bound part of the trip. While Jenny repacked our resupply bags with food and gear, I went to the fuel cache to fill our bottles for the next leg of our journey. Both of us were positively freezing and I was amazed that Jenny managed to sort food and repack our bags successfully. The temptation was to make camp and try again the following morning. But we both knew that we needed to get used to this, and that tomorrow's weather might not be better.

After two hours of resorting, we set off from Patriot Hills with sleds repacked with food and fuel for a month. The sleds were heavy and the day was late, but we wanted to at least ski for an hour before making our next camp. As it turned out, we would ski for much longer than that this evening.

Before heading directly to the pole, we had to go around the Patriot Hills mountain range. The reason for this Base Camp at Patriot Hills was the natural blue ice at the foot of the mountains providing a runway for the Ilyushin. The ice field stretches for miles, and unfortunately it lay in our path. Before long we found ourselves unavoidably skiing on ice, rather than snow. The ice was too slippery for boots, and we had no crampons, so we slowly and gingerly made our way along the base of the hills on skis. Normally the sleds slid on the ice fairly easily. But every now and then they would hang up. When this happened they were very difficult to free because our skis and skins provided almost no traction. We spent hours in this mode, but at least the efforts kept us warm in the rising wind.

The wind is sometimes so strong here that it blows stones off the mountain and onto the ice. In some areas the stones were so prevalent that they were unavoidable. We were very mindful of our hard-plastic sled runners, but we couldn't do much to prevent the rocks from scratching them.

The evening was getting late and very stormy, but we could not find a place to camp on the ice. So we kept going. In retrospect we probably should not have kept going because the wind built into a full-on gale and the temperature plummeted. We had been warned not to be out in such conditions due to the risk of frostbite. But we seemed to be OK for the time being.

At the far end of the hills we were faced with a long, steep ascent to the shoulder. We had been pulling hard and were tired, so when we finally reached a fairly level area, at 9:30 pm, we stopped to make camp. Here we realized how cold we were. We put on all of our jackets and pants, and proceeded to set up the tent. This was a task in the strong wind with stiff and numb fingers. As before, inside the tent was very cold, because we used the stove in the vestibule, not in the body of the tent, with the vestibule door fully open to avoid fumes.

Evening camp: S 80° 21.034' W 81° 13.233'

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