Today’s goal was to get far enough North and East to get out of the wind shadow or ridge extending from Dome Valkyrie towards latitude 76.5 South and Longitude 45 East.
The day started with me struggling to exit my warm cocoon of duck down and silky sleeping bag. I snoozed my alarm 4 times as my weary body vetoed any movement. Stiff and sorry from yesterday’s efforts, I finally emerged like an undercooked pupae and got the stove on. Coffee, porridge, butter, geriatric calorie drink, neurofen, a knee brace and a self massage and I was away.
The ice was magical but the wind was dying. No longer the rocket ship ride of yesterday I had to work hard for my miles today. Relatively smooth ice, with evidence of a recent snow storm a sparkling crystalline dry 2cm of powder snow blanketed everything. This increased friction but made for a magical silent ride.
80 km from my camp last night, the wind shifted 15 degrees and I altered course slightly as well to better use the wind angle.
110km from camp the wind all but died so I had my first break. I drank, ate and considered how to proceed. I wasn’t quite far enough northwest to make the turn for Novo. I desperately wanted to make that point today.
I retrieved the 25m extension lines for the big kite from deep within the sled, and spent an hour restringing the kite from 50m lines to 75m lines. This made all the difference and I managed to get another critical 30km out of the day. All but windless, I dropped the kite and marveled at the zephyr that had carried myself and two sleds to this point, Camp 50.
Today is a momentous day, a day for me to push fatigue away and celebrate. Huge gratitude to be through the two potential bottlenecks or difficult areas and to now have a straight shot at Novo. No more navigational headaches, no more guessing or conjecture, just a final push to Thorshammer now 1,150 km away. The run down the glacier is downhill, warm, fun and 150 km that I hope will be a final treat.
So I celebrate and thank you all for your support and prayers that have got me this far. There were dark days, where I wasn’t sure I was tough enough or skilled enough to get this far. The support from Sarah, kids, family, friends, everyone back home has carried me here, I thank you all, I shall never forget it, you all carried me many times.
1150 km (+150) in Antarctica is still a long way, as long as some entire expeditions. Don’t worry, I won’t drop my guard, I am sure Antarctica has tricks left in store for me yet.