Rock around the clock
My first time shift
The forecast from wind guru’s Celine and Marc agreed that weird wind conditions were on the way. An evening of good wind then a snow flurry and wind 180 degrees in the wrong direction!
Based on this, despite having just broken the 1000 km barrier I realised I better eat, sleep, 'n go. So at midnight I got up packed and started towards the POI once more. My joints creaked and groaned and extremities screamed as the cold night air bit at them as I loaded up and launched the 11m kite.
A storm of dark ominous clouds was building behind me. The first hour was rough ice - bang, crash, bang - as my poor body woke up into the rhythm again. I checked the GPS twice as I seemed to be kiting directly into the sun as at 2am it was situated to the southeast of me.
Then a magic moment… despite the dark, brooding clouds breathing down my neck, in front of me the sastrugi suddenly disappeared and I was on smooth ice for the first time and in the air all around me gold dust!
I've seen this phenomenon once before and it occurs in extreme cold when moisture crystallises in the air, floats lazily and is backlit by the sun.
It was a sight to behold and I half expected a host of angels to appear and start singing! It fed my soul and I drank in the precious moment, realising it was the first softness Antarctica had shared with me since being here!
The moment was brief and finally a snow storm swallowed me up. I continued on, making the most of the light-wind, with snow flakes playing in the air around me and the kite. After 9 hours my left knee began to give me an inkling it was time to rest, then finally the lack of visibility demanded I stop.
The wind is light now, blowing from the POI towards me with light snow slowly burying the sled and tents. The first new snow of the journey. The air temp is -20C which feels like T-shirt weather after the consistent -40 C temps!
The POI is 553 km to the South East - so close yet so far. The sight of the polar gold dust will remain with me forever and power me forward tomorrow.
Huge thanks tonight for PIVOTEL and IRIDIUM for the connection to the outside world - we are close to making Australian Polar History together !!!