The Shift

Winds of favour

The forecast for wind is finally blowing towards the Pole Of Inaccessibility and not in my frost nipped face, thank goodness!

Surprisingly, I slept peacefully in -39 C and took some time to repair the things that had broken in the extreme cold over the past few days. 

I also reworked my harness – the extra load of 90 days food and comms gear has been compressing my abdomen beyond what I can bear. With a little ingenuity and 40 minutes of experimentation I used a hack saw, climbing rope and a fibreglass pole to strengthen the rear of the harness and it was done.

The wind came at 3pm, I was only able to make use of it for 26 km before it disappeared. Now all vision of the rim mountains are gone, and the stark icy plateau lay ahead of me. It was eerily silent and extremely bleak, the cold with approaching -40C once again. I am making steady but slow progress, but trying to keep morale up and see the positive in everything – at least my hands got some reprieve from the cold today.

The last 5 days have been a trial by fire with conditions that have tested me physically and indeed mentally. Heavy sleds, extreme cold, the physicality of the kilometres made southwards had made me wonder if the goals were possible before the edge of human endurance was passed.

I awoke at 6 am UTC time and could see strong wind but no storm on the horizon. I moved quickly (which is a relative term in cold isolation), to make use of the wind.

I’d laid out the Ozone Hyperlink 11m kite but was nervous it was too much, however with 210 kg on my harness I needed the extra power. I launched the kite and it burst from the snow’s surface into the frosty air, racing southwards.

It was a magical day! Extreme cold bludgeoning at my face and hands, knees copping a battering as we crossed the sastrugi lines at speed, nonetheless, it felt sustainable! I pressed on for four hours – struggling to land the kite because of the wind strength, I made a quick lunch break then attacked it for another two hours before my body gave in.

I’ve managed to cover another 120km of the plateau, enduring in the most extreme temperatures I have experienced yet.

Late in the day I saw a storm cell approaching from behind like a thousand galloping black stallions kicking up snow clouds above them. After feeling accomplished from the day’s achievements, I am now deep in my sleeping bag, listening to the storm going over my head, very content to have run ahead of it for so long!

All day I drew strength from home and shed tears for my friend Frenchy, the loss of her beloved boy, a storm she never got to see coming.