The next phase of the journey begins, into uncharted territory.
Having all agreed as a team that it was better to play it safe with the fuel situation and not go for the Pole, but instead head for Dome Argus I felt peace wash over me, since making the decision.
To get to Dome A was going to require a Herculean effort in any case, as wind is so scarce in that sector. We all (our expedition team at home) looked at the numbers and agreed.
Wanting to start this next segment well, I awoke 5:30 am and had the big kite up on 50 m lines by 7:30. The Dome is North East from me and as such I’m going crosswind, once again across the sastrugi lines.
The wind was under 5 knots. Spinning the kite, jamming in the right ski, I’d make a little headway, then smash into rock hard sastrugi and all momentum was lost. The sleds are too heavy for this, but there’s nothing I can do to lighten them except by eating more!
I managed 10 km then thought I’d get creative by doing some shuttle-runs. Despite hating the idea of separating the sleds, maybe I could move faster and make more headway if I moved one forward then came back for the second?
I tried this, sled 1 shuttled 5 km forward, then unhitched and headed back for sled 2. However, the big kite with no load attached to me, was ridiculously overpowered and scary even in 4knots of cold wind. Once again, I felt naked and exposed. Once I picked up sled 2, I agreed with my committee-of-one that it wasn’t worth the risk splitting them up again.
I carried onwards until eventually the wind died completely. I made 23 km in 7 hours of extreme effort.
My morale was very low as I put up the tent. It seemed to me that all the hardship, the obstacles, the impossibilities swam into view and crushed my spirit with their weight. Luckily, a warm cup of energy drink in a tiny red tent and perspective cleared the mists of defeat.
I have had one rest day in 29 days where I have made under 30 km. Effectively I reached the Pole Of Inaccessibility faster than any human without vehicular power. The fuel loss was an unplanned disaster, but it is what it is. Today is the first day of leg 3, the most difficult leg, so I focused on the wins and pushed the losses out of view.
It’s time for character and it’s time to call on a miracle. So I setup a windsock which I could see from my sleeping bag. I added 25 m lines to the already huge 50 m lines, laid the big kite out and now wait…a miracle is on its way.