Day 6: Circle of Survivability
We awakened to find long condensation crystals on the tent walls. This tells us we needed more ventilation. Our tent is not waterproof, it doesn't rain in Antarctica. So we made the tent breathable. But we still need to have the doors at each end open somewhat, depending on the wind.
In the early morning, it takes us some time to melt drinking water, to pack gear, and to dress for the outside. Then Jenny ventures out. From inside the tent I hand her bags of gear, then she packs them in our pulks.
In very high winds, the horizon is obscured by a ground blizzard.
Skiing in storm conditions is not for the faint of heart.
Self portraits. We each hang our camera on an elastic cord, under our clothing and next to the skin to prevent them from freezing. When we want to take a photo, we have to unzip a ways, then pull on the cord to lift the camera. But sometimes we find the zipper frozen, and when that happens we can't get to the camera.
Today's weather is quite stormy: cold and windy. SW 35 mph to start, then 50 mph for 3 hours, then gradually easing back to 35. In a word, cold!
The good news is the sky was not all cloudy, and ironically the same high-wind cloud hung in the same part of the sky, directly ahead, all day. So navigating was easy. In fact I put my compass away, and did not use it for 6 hours.
For most of the day we seemed to be going uphill. That, and bucking the stiff headwinds, had us feeling the good workout - i.e.: warmth. (relative)
Bucking stiff headwinds. The wind is so strong and cold that I'm wearing my insulated jacket over my regular bibs. I usually save this jacket for wearing at camp, when I'm no longer generating metabolic heat by skiing. But in this storm I need the extra warmth. Jenny made this jacket with one layer of Ray-Way Quilt-Kit insulation.
My ski jacket zipper froze right away, and I could not get to my camera and GPS. Back to the drawing board when we get home. As Jenny pulled out her camera, it was covered in ice, even though she was carrying it in her inner pocket, one layer of thin material away from her skin. In this kind of cold, and working hard, the skin is warm but the micro-climate layer is incredibly thin. When I can get to my camera, it only works when I carry it next to my skin. In my shirt pocket it freezes.
All day today I was thinking of how beautiful it is here, and how much fun it is. Most people would not call this fun, but I am having a great time! Just to think - Antarctica! The circle of survivability is incredibly small, but we are doing our best to stay inside it.
Moving in for a closer look, we see that my goggles are somewhat fogged after the exercise of shoveling a ton of snow onto the snow skirt. But I'm still smiling. And the wind is still blowing hard.
Jenny snaps a self-portrait (now called a selfie) with her camera. The light here is super bright, and working with goggles off is risky to a person's the eyes - but sometimes necessary. And here she is smiling with the anticipation of crawling into the tent, to get out of the weather.
Evening camp: S 80° 49.525' W 81° 31.066'
Today's mileage: 9.3 m
Weather: windy, Temperature: -20C