Novo Bound

After a 7 hour sleep I was recharged and even my left foot got into the boot without to much complaint.

My first tricky job was either to kite or manhaul the sleds through the gap behind Thorshammer as the monolith was blocking the easterly wind. In the end I used a combination and finally got into relatively clean air.

I was then on the edge of a huge escarpment looking down on the mountains of Ulvettana and Queen Maudsland many unnamed peaks. The Somo Veken glacier is grand and enormous. I had 24 exact waypoints to follow between me and Novo to keep me out of crevasses.

The air was warm, -18c, conditions pleasant as I removed layers for the first time in 57 days! The views today just took my breath away and whilst it was a gruelling day I constantly stopped and pinched myself, so grateful.

The air in the mountains is always “dirty”, meaning it ebbs, flows, and gusts. The first downslope I was reminded the hardest. The little 11m kite had done a great job getting me away from Thorshammer but a massive gust hit us halfway down the first escarpment. The kite initially collapsed, then reinflated, ripping me sideways and upwards. I flew at least 30m laterally and 4m vertically, with sleds off the ground. My initial thought was fear of fractured leg or spine, as the abdominal pressure of two sleds was immense. Somehow I used the kite to catch my fall then hit the safety, collapsing the kite. Another close call, my adrenal gland needs a break.

Continuing with a storm kite, I soon learnt that every valley had differing local conditions. I did some manhauling to get to wind, lowered sleds down mega slopes too dangerous to kite with sleds, some scary moments trying to slow the big kite down on huge downslopes.

One of the most beautiful journeys I have ever done today. My eyes for so long starved of colour, shape and form soaked it all in. Every brown, hue of blue ice, every wave in the rock, the slabs, glaciers and peaks I drank into my eyes desperately happy to out of the “white bucket”.

The last 15km turned out to be an upwind tack on the damaged left foot. Agony only relieved when I switched to the right tack for a period. 56km of difficult, technical mountain kiting, with 9 kite changes has got me to a corner heading straight into the wind. Novo is 102km but I need a 90 degree windshift to get there.

So close now, one thing this expedition has strengthened in me is patience. I’ll lean on that learning now and wait for the wind.