Days rolling into one another
I pressed on with good wind-flow towards the Pole Of Inaccessibility. Last night I had serious shoulder pain which I attributed to using a smaller kite, relying on a lot of upper body work to keep momentum and my sleds moving. This morning I experimented with using a larger kite-size that would manoeuvre less rapidly, yet generate greater force. It’s a catch-22 really – on one hand, small kites are safer in windy conditions but they require more dexterity to fly (which can be exhausting over a long day) then alternatively, a bigger kite will fly more steadily but can overpower you in an instant, if you aren’t attentive to the conditions.
Predictably, launching a bigger kite was terrifying but once I got going I could make the bearing for the POI, I took off with the kite doing all the work, not me! (I shrugged my shoulders in relief.) Drawing to a halt was scary. As I tried to land the kite, my mitts slipped off the bar, the kite relaunched with incredible power and I boosted 3 meters into the air, the sleds mercifully refused to leave the ice. Phewf, I’ll be careful not to make that mistake again – I can’t afford any injuries!
I made good ground today and avoided a few mishaps. Time to recharge and reset for tomorrow.
The light wind woke me and I dressed and went outside the tent. Cold as always and wind was marginal, around 7 knots or so. I fired the stove up had a coffee (Thanks Blackboard!) and considered my options; rest and wait for stronger wind tonight, or have a go now with what’s available. It would have been a better call to rest but “ADD Geoff” was having none of that.
My major issue today, was that with 180kg sleds in tow, I couldn’t make the bearing for the POI, despite moving quite well. If I progressed too far I could put myself in a position where I could not make it to the POI at all. After a considerable struggle, I made 12.5 km towards my goal, amongst setting 3 campsites and murmuring a lot of “F-Bombs” – It’s been a testing day! It’s not the way I’d seen the day unravelling in my head, a huge amount of work with very little movement on the map, but I’m building character I suppose.
After another 4hrs sleep, the wind came in strong by midnight and I was able to get moving by 2 am. With serious concerns for my hands on the kite bar (with all this upwind travel in strong wind) I looked like Paddington bear with 5 sets of progressively larger mitts on. Air temp was -34 C, wind speed up to 25kts. If I wasn’t vigilant, today’s conditions could be a recipe for frost bitten fingers.
I had some navigational tension ahead of me. The POI is a tiny dot in a huge sea of ice, I’m trying to traverse laterally across this incredible wind flow to make it to the “island.” With heavy sleds, it means jamming the leading edge of my right ski into the ice, hour after hour, to maintain my approach angle. At every break I check the GPS to see if I’m getting blown past my target.
In years of difficult journeys, I can’t think of a day that skirted the very edge of human endurance, that tested what is actually humanly possible like today did.