Day 55: Climbing the Same Hill for Three Days
Another beautiful day, with only light sastrugi, light winds out of the NE, bright sun and no clouds - except for a dark band hunkering on the north horizon. We are glad we are not back there. ANI guide Denise and two others at 87 deg, 27 min had whiteo ut followed by a wind-chill of minus 41.
Jenny stops to put her ski jacket back on.
We skied without our ski jackets for the first hour and a half while we dissipated the excess body heat from the night in the tent. Once we cooled off, we needed our ski jackets very dearly.
On the same subject, at one o'clock PM we stopped to have a sit-down cup of granola. The sun was shining brightly, and we were comfortable - for about four minutes. Then the chill started creeping in, and within 30 seconds we were in an emergency situation. Once the hands become stiff, it is very difficult to put on an insulated jacket and overmitts.
We didn't even get to eat our granola; we had to set off post haste to generate warmth. Once we started skiing we were comfortable again within a few minutes. The same situation happened yesterday. We were distracted by lunch and didn't notice the loss of body heat until too late. Hopefully we learned our lesson this time.
All day today, yesterday, and the day before, we were climbing the same hill. This afternoon, even the horizon to the left and right appeared sloped. All this time we cannot see very far ahead. We keep expecting to reach the top of this rise, but the top never comes.
I carry the tent in my sled as a long sausage, with only one segment of each pole disconnected at each end. This makes it easier to pitch, by far. But the joint above the stove is always frozen in the morning (and again in the evening) making it difficult to re-connect (or disconnect), and takes a lot of rubbing with a glove or mitt to melt the ice. Note for next time: come up with a method of preventing the steam from the stove from reaching this joint, because the steam condenses on the pole in this area, and freezes the pole segments together.
Presently we are laying comfortably under the Greenland quilt here in the tent, with camp chores done: water melted, dinner eaten, batteries charging, boots and face masks drying. Jenny sleeps in her two thermal shirts and three thermal pants, and recently in these colder temperatures, she wears her insulated jacket. I sleep in that plus my ski jacket and bibs, using my insulated jacket for a pillow.
This Greenland quilt, now called the Ray-Way Quilt, is what we sell in kit form, with two layers of Alpine insulation. This quilt is working perfectly for us, and we would not wish for more insulation. The reason is because the sun shines all night and heats the tent with the greenhouse effect. Outside the temperature is minus 23 C, but inside the tent it is well above freezing. On nights with no sun, we also wear insulated pants.
Countdown: 41 miles to the Pole.
Evening camp: S 89° 22.490' W 85° 46.213'
Today's mileage: 11.5 in 10.5 hrs
Altitude: 9150 ft., Temperature: -23C