Crevasse!

The forecast was for the wind to become unfavourable for a run at Thorshammer from camp 55 from midday. The last thing I felt like doing after 208 km yesterday was a short sleep and go again. However I was keen to ride this wind to the nth degree, if I’d known what the terrain was to be like I would have taken a rest day!

Midnight the alarm went off, I snoozed once then had “breakfast” and got moving. The wind was a lot lighter, and I made slow progress initially. Then a snow mist or fog came in and I was blind, falling a lot as you couldn’t see the ice surface. I dropped to a storm kite, slowed down and did a bit better.

Then it cleared and the wind doubled in strength. For a while I made good miles on good ice. 80km out from Thorshammer, the ice condition worsened. Bang, bang, my knees felt as they were full of ground glass and my left foot complained bitterly as well.

I pressed on. 62km out the first Antarctic Rim mountains showed their peaks. This was an exciting moment. I realised it had been 55 days since I’d seen them. Soon I recognised Thorshammer 40km away.

This is where the day got complicated.

Crevasses are always a stress around Antarctic mountains or glaciers. The approach the TH we had scanned, passed as clear and on I went. I hadn’t asked Skadinu to review this, as I was confident the route was clear of crevasses.

In my attempt to use the wind angle I had been pushed further East than expected. Whilst this ensured no manhauling (all wind power) it pushed me into some dangerous terrain. This terrain eventually pushed me into very nasty crevassed ice. The crevasses were huge, pattern complex and in short a very dangerous situation.

I considered camping, contacting Ben and Jacque from Skadinu and getting them to map me a way out. However within 25 km of TH I elected to proceed with caution. I won’t lie it was scary, but after two very careful hours I managed to get back onto healthy ice. At one point I turned quickly to avoid a semi collapsed snow bridge and the sleds on the slick ice broadsided off into the crevasse lip, terrifying.

3.8 km from TH the wind we have ridden for over 1,400 km died. Exhausted after 13 hours, with the last 2 some of the most stressful I have ever endured, I could have cried. I collected myself and ran the 75m lined big kite out and she pulled me the rest of the way to the familiar monolith.

Finally, camp was set on the side of an Antarctic glacier and I was too exhausted for it to properly sink in.