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ice-walk posted on 30 Dec 2012, 08:05 GMT

A very difficult area




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On Ice

Antarctica

35

43 km  

2090 m above sea level

Partly Cloudy

Polar Plaateau Antarctica

-87.3135 / -79.2427

Day 34 & 35; Friday 28th Dec: Roland had hoped for a break in both weather and snow conditions as he felt strong and ready to put in long distanced. The break never came. Quite the contrary.
It is the winter storms that form the sastugi fields. In the turbulence crazy shapes are molded into a sea of wild rock hard stone waves (yes, they are like cement and are sot soft snow like we know it back here). They can be small areas that you can walk around of huge fields that are strung together. Then you have to find your way through. – If your mind is strong and you have a good period it is actually quite fun and like playing chess with Mother Nature. If you are tired and down it is your worst nightmare.
Thursday was no an easy day. Weather so-so with very strong wind from SE making the day very cold and very hard. He hit 3 big hills that propelled him to 2236 meters! The wind forced him to go sideways while climbing the steepest parts to make progress. But worst of all was the roughest sastugi fields he has ever seen (and probably includes those he did not see in the whiteout...). He was pushed very much east (see position) as he tried to find a path through that was not too taxing. He did a lot of skiing and was happy with his effort, but only made 22 kilometers towards the Pole.
Friday he described as an extremely difficult day with more heavy wind and relentless sastugi. Went first west to 80° but the sastugi field just got worse so he crossed back east and ended up at 79°14'.
The sastugi was absolutely amazing and must have been very spectacular as Roland even stopped to take a photo!!!! (He is not a photo freak and spend his time walking not playing to the gallery…).
Three big hills also added to the burden, but had it not been for the wind it would have been both a visually stunning- and fun day. But the wind made the day both hard and bitterly cold. It also rolled his sledge several times when the wind and the sastugi cooperated... But the rolling was actually not too bad as it gave him a good opportunity to check the runners. He really has to take care in the bumpy fields not to break them again.
All in all, just 21,5km in the right direction, but the longer distances are there if he can just gets some less wind and sastugi. He has reached an altitude of 2330 meters laving about 500 meters up to the South Pole. As he nears the 88° Parallel the terrain will mellow and with that the sastugi will ease. This area is where the winter storms really make a terrible mess as the big rolling ice-dunes (or hills) make for tremendous turbulence. It will take another 100km to get into better areas, though it seems last winter have made the sastugie bigger than in a long time.

We had some questions from a Waltraut, and some of what we answered could be interesting for others too, so I take a chance of including it:
• Amundsen used dogs and then you gear the trip round that. In cold areas it is all about cold and heat. Sweating is bad. Amundsen dressed his men in very warm skin, but did not want sweating as that would ice up, thus they did not pull anything, just skied and tried to use as little effort as possible. This is what all explorers do. You try to maximize progress with the least amount of effort and sweating. For Roland starting with 130khh sledge not sweating is impossible bit it is easier to get the ice out of Gore-Tex than skin.
• Roland dresses as cold as he dears and relay on a good working temperature as he walks, with not too much sweating. The first minutes after the breaks are very cold, but after that it is ok.
• Dogs were not allowed in Antarctica after the early 1990s. Thus Roland is his own dog.
• To be totally alone is hard to imagine for most. But once you get the taste of it, it is a wonderful privilege. There are very few fields in which you can measure yourself without absolutely any distractions or interference. A Polar trip like this s one such thing.
• On a trip like this our mind is very busy. When you settle in the art is to get the thoughts from inside instead of from other people, radio, tv, papers, iPads, telephones, messages etc etc etc. We live in a very ‘noisy’ world.
• We talk 4-5 minutes most days (sometime he only uses my answering machine) as he for safety leaves me his position, altitude and distance skied. He also give a short resume of the day before. He calls around noon European time. He is walking in the Chilean sector and is 4 hours behind our time. In the evening, when he stops, it is too late to call me.
• As for the crevasses. We are all frightened by them. The rule is not to fall into one... But if that happens, the line back to his sledge will cut into the snow at the side of the snow-bridge and the sledge will act as an anchor. Then he at least have a chance to survive and maybe get back up again.
• No, he has not left anything behind that he needs - experience and many years of planning see to that.
• If you miss anything? Maybe. But the simpler the life the less you miss. BUT then when you come back you realize just how wonderfully we have organized life here at home. You just love everything and all we here take for granted. And that is a very good thing to do now and then, as too many complain. Don't they?

All the best, Lars

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Comments

Michi123 says :
Happy new year to you, thanks for the information is good to know. Good luck "Michi"
Posted on GMT 03 January 2013, 15:45:33