Day 52: Showers and laundry perhaps? No chance
Today was gorgeous. Blue sky, fairly smooth terrain, and no wind. What more could a couple of polar explorers ask for? Showers and laundry perhaps?
No chance, until we reach civilization, which for me, if all goes well, will be in 25 more days. This is part one of this trip to Antarctica: skiing to the South Pole. That done, Jenny is planning to return home. Look for Ray-Way Products to re-open soon thereafter. I have a couple of more projects in mind. For one, I am slated to join four others on an attempt to climb Antarctica's highest mountain, Mt. Vinson. More on this later.
With the lack of wind and the sun shining brightly, the morning was quite warm. We skied without our ski jackets, and I did not wear my face mask. Never mind the frost build-up on our long underwear (it looks like snow); we were quite comfortable.
With an absence of wind, the surface of the snow looks burnished. And everywhere you look you find interesting designs and patterns.
At 1:00 pm we were ready for our sit-down bowl of granola when the wind started to blow lightly from the southwest. Five minutes later we were sitting on Jenny's sled in full expedition wear, including ski jacket with the fur hoods up, and our insulated jackets, reserved for the coldest of times. It was a quick lunch.
"People living in New England might not realize that the South Pole is over three thousand feet higher that Mount Washington."
All day we seemed to be climbing. We are now over 9,000 feet. That means we have reached the Polar Plateau, and have climbed about 9,000 feet from PH Base.
Just a thought, but people living in New England might not realize that the South Pole is over three thousand feet higher that Mount Washington. Another interesting fact: the ice sheet over the South Pole is about 9,000 feet thick! Buried under the ice, the land under the South Pole is near sea level. It makes one wonder what Global Warming could do, if left unchecked. That is a lot of water to add to the oceans.
All afternoon the clouds grew thicker. Then just before quitting time the light went flat. Selecting a campsite in flat light is a guessing game. You don't really know if the ground is flat or sloped one way or the other; or how rough it is. You can't tell anything about it. Today's site turned out to be deep, soft snow.
We pitched the tent, set it aside, then packed the area firm, stomping it with our boots. At least shoveling the snow onto the snow skirt was easy. Normally I have to chop frozen snow and cover the skirt in blocks.
With the present weather system, the temperature has climbed to minus 11 degrees C. So the tent is not too cold inside, despite the lack of solar heating.
The ski poles are almost to the hilt in the soft snow.
Tonight I discovered that I must have bumped my compass declination out of adjustment four or five ago. It has been reading eight degrees to the east ever since. So we're currently 4.5 miles off course. Fortunately I discovered this now. It would be most embarrassing to miss the pole and continue across the continent.
Countdown to the pole: 77 miles.
Evening camp: S 88° 51.684' W 84° 20.329'
Today's mileage: 12.1
Altitude: 9090 ft., Temperature: -11C