Deep snow covers this entire high plateau. The tent pegs won’t hold in it and each exhausting step buries you halfway up your boot. It’s a hurdle I just hadn’t expected and is taking time for me to process.
A puff of hit the tent at 2 am and my brain was saying go, my body no way. After two huge days I needed sleep.
By 8 am I still had good wind, any other time we’d be making good distance, but I dived the kite to create power and nothing happened. The snow held them like glue. I did a massive power-loop with the kite, nearly lost my Polar Granola breakfast as the harness compressed my abdomen. Finally, I heard the “pop” of the sleds shifting out of inertia and I began to move.
I could make the bearing for Kunlun Station with extreme effort and I rested every kilometre. It was so strenuous, pulling the sleds through porridge like snow.
At 10 km I lost half my wind power say 8 knots to 4 knots. My little caravan ground to a halt.
I tried man-hauling and was immediately demoralised as the combination of deep snow and oxygen debt from the altitude (only 13,000 feet but as air is thinner at N and S Poles it’s equivalent available oxygen of 15,000 feet) made it very difficult to make way.
I then decided to try a shuttle run. I ran one sled forward 2 km, ditched it and then kited back to pickup sled 2.
With half the weight I could make the bearing for Kunlun and the run back to sled 2 was glorious with no weight at speed gliding silently over powder snow. That horrible nakedness or unease was there as well, I hate being separated from the gear or having it separated. However, by this method I managed to eek out another 10 km before the wind died completely. This method is so inefficient as I travel 30 km to make 10 km in the right direction.
Today my finger frost bitten on day 2 decided to split open. It looks to me like I’m growing a new finger underneath ! When I think of Liz Benson in WA hooking in for chemo, all the women in Oz fighting Breast Cancer bravely every day, I laugh at my poor wee digit, grin and carry on.
130 km of deep snow to Kunlun, will it last that long? I’ll never abuse Antarctica’s hard ice ever again!
Mentally I prepare myself for a slog to Kunlun, Antarctica has delivered another curve ball and I must find a way around it.