Day 46 – A change in tactics and Merry Christmas to you all.
Yesterday evening the wind began to stir again at 6pm. I was moving fast, (almost too fast) by 7pm. Skipping like a pebble across a lake dragged madly downwind across the tops of the jagged ice ridges. It was really cold again, -29C air temp, despite travelling downwind I was well and truly feeling every negative degree.
The ice continued to be broken and scored but then developed these incredible valleys with long downslopes merging with flat troughs. The climb up out of the ridges was tedious.
I felt I was hanging on well, no stacks and making good ground. Just before midnight I came to another valley, negotiated the downslope in strong wind, got to the trough and presto the wind was gone. The kite fell like a shot bird and I stood motionless, feeling confused.
I have never seen anything like it, I’d made 60 km towards Novo, utilising 10 knots of wind and in the next moment, there was nothing. I waited, waited some more then decided to camp and sleep.
I should have waited some a little longer. Literally ten minutes after I laboriously set camp, the katabatic night wind returned. I was too exhausted to care and crawled into my beloved sleeping bag for some much needed Z’s.
The new pattern seems to be no day wind at all, but as temperatures drop in the evening, a light katabatic wind develops that runs all night. So my current plan has me living like a running marmot, sleeping in 4 hour blocks. Typically, my morning shift covers 20-30 km then I sleep. Night shift follows, covering what I can, but no wind tricks tonight.
The ice condition has meant I have felt the physical impact of every kilometre. There have been few miles easily won, yet on my map, I inch closer to Novo. I am now in line with the Amery Ice shelf and will soon expect a change in wind direction which will necessitate crossing the sastrugi line once more. I look at some of the ice beasts here, I passed a wind-ridge double the height of my head today, and have some dread at the. idea of more to follow. I will be forced to head more east than the direct line to Novo, to avoid a wind shadow behind Valkyrie Dome then it’s a case of aiming directly to my final GPS position.
I would love to say a HUGE MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone!!! To loved ones, friends, Vetlovers, supporters, sponsors, and all Aussies. Have a blessed Christmas with family and friends. Please remember the reason for the season and spare a thought for a little red tent solo somewhere on the Antarctic Plateau.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL.