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

2006-11-13 page 6 of 67

Day 3: Close Call

photo

We slept well in all our clothes and big down jackets, but when we awoke we were far from comfortable. Whenever we would move an arm or a leg, the thick frost coating on the inside of the tent would rain down on us. Nevertheless, we set our resolve and packed our bags, and emerged back out into the storm.

photo

Directly ahead of us were the mountains at the south end of the Ellsworth Range. According to our map, we should have been heading for Foxy Pass. But according to our compasses (both mine and Jenny's), what we took for Foxy Pass looked impossibly steep. So in the next few hours we headed southeast to find a better crossing. Finally I realized that I had been using the compass wrongly. The compasses we had were new to us, not the type we were used to. As it turns out, they took some getting used to. Realizing my error, I pointed the compass in the right direction - and there, indeed, was Foxy Pass.

We skied for the pass the rest of the day in boisterous conditions, and in the late afternoon, as we were approaching the slope going up to Foxy Pass, the storm came hurling down on us in earnest. At times the ground blizzard was so thick that we could not see our skis. And again because of the ice and sastrugi, we could not find anywhere to camp.

photo

The wind is strong. The mountains called Patriot Hills recede in the background.

At one point in the storm I had a close call. I took my ultra-thick mitten off one hand, and also the inner glove. I was reaching for the camera, down my shirt, while pinching the gloves between my knees. A moment of inattention, and the tempest blew my glove and mitten away.

Fortunately the glove and mitten were caught by a sastrugi 30 feet away. I ran and grabbed them. But then I couldn't get my hand back in my inner glove because the glove had frozen hard as a rock. In only a few seconds I started losing the use of my fingers. In another minute or so they would have been gone. I could not unzip my parka to warm my hand against my body because the zipper was coated in ice and wouldn't budge. I shoved my hand into the outer mitten, and after several minutes my hand began to warm. Lesson learned: wear vapor barrier gloves under the outer mitts, and tie the mittens to the body.

The grind up the slope was extremely long, slow-going, and exhausting against the wind. Visibility was less than a hundred yards, and we could not see the top of the slope. We could not tell how far below the pass we were until we were almost on it. As before, during the last hour Jenny lagged behind, and I had to go very slow so that she could keep up. I should have taken some of the weight out of her sled, but we were both too cold to stop. We figured we should find a place to camp soon, so we hung on.

At the end of a 12 hour day we reached the pass proper and found a good place to camp. But the wind was so strong that I had serious misgivings about pitching the tent, due to the risk of breaking a pole or two. However, I had fitted this tent with extra thick and beefy poles, and so pitching turned out to be no problem. We had read stories of tents blowing away in Antarctica, so I had devised a system of tie-downs, anchored by a ski pole or two. Our system was to lift the folded tent out of my sled and anchor it immediately to the snow surface. Then we hung on to the tent when pitching it, and then Jenny stood there holding on to it while I finished setting the anchors. I then shoveled snow onto the snow skirt all around. It was only at that point that we could both let go of the tent, confident that it wouldn't blow away.

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Our camp at Foxy Pass. After only an hour, the spindrift is starting to bury the sleds. Mt. Shattock, behind us, lies at the far-south end of the Ellsworth mountains.

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Crawling into the tent was a little bit of heaven because of the storm raging outside. We didn't feel it now, but in a few days we would realize that we had both frost-nipped the front of our thighs fairly severely on the climb to Foxy Pass. But we had fared much better than some skiers. In this same storm one person from a British team just ahead of us sustained frostbite to his thighs so badly that he had to be evacuated. The doctor said that because of the damage by gangrene, he might have to have ongoing skin grafts for the rest of his life. Someone else lost a thumb. Altogether some twenty skiers would suffer frostbite during this Antarctic season.

The story has 67 pages. This is page 6.
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