It looked such a lovely day as got out of the sleeping bag and got ready to go. Sun, just a little cloud, a bit of a breeze but not too much. A bit colder as well, around -22C or so, but fine.
The problems became immediately apparent as start to ski: Soft snow. The messy ice that I had been skiing through yesterday was definitely not good and quickly turned into a large sastrugi field. And then… the dunes.
Bumpy road ahead
If you look at the map showing my progress and zoom in, you will see it looks pretty bumpy where I am at the moment. These are effectively large dunes that have been formed by the strong katabatic winds that flow down from the plateau. There are dips between them that are not welcome: what goes down… has to climb back up the other side. And while the climbs are not as steep as earlier ones, they are still tough. Together with the grooves, ruts, ups and downs of the sastrugi, the mixed soft and compact snow, just making it all so much harder.
My obstinate sled
Sledmund was particularly obstinate today and did not want to move through it all, and was subject to a few choice curses from me. It was all made worse when on the compact snow and couldn’t get any grip to pull the sled out of the soft stuff… jeez! So so tiring.
Called it a day at 7hours
I decided to stop after just 7 hours: I felt that I was spending a lot of energy going nowhere (just 16km). Yesterday in the whiteout was better – I never imagined saying that when this day started! The snow should (fingers crossed!!) be much better tomorrow as it starts to compact. From the route profile it looks like the climbing should be more gentle- indeed, even looking ahead now and it seems much flatter. I just wasn’t getting anywhere.
Tomorrows the day – 500 miles
Frustrating. My body feels fine in general and I don’t feel fatigued. It was just… exhausting. Not great for the confidence but should still be able to make the Pole for the 9th. Hopefully. At least I am now in the 87th degree… completed 494 miles (422.78 nautical miles). So yes, tomorrow I should legitimately be able to sing, “I would (ski!) 500 miles”!!
Only three more degrees… 177 more nautical miles to go. End in sight?? Long way to go still!!
Position: S87 02.7818 / W082 34.3523
Ear worm if day… nothing really; I was too busy cursing Sledmund
Photo: I need a haircut!
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Visit Ben’s blog site to hear Ben’s audio diary from his overnight camp. https://polarweber.com/