Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Position: 65.379 N 47.100 W
Elevation: 2180 m
Total distance: 505 km
Distance today: 70 km
Hours kited 3h00
For tonight, Marc our meteorological router had announced a gentle storm. His advice was roughly: "Get the work done early, when the winds are still light, and make sure to tie down everything in time to get ready for the storm."
And while we were happy for this advice, and took it very seriously, we were at the same time a little sick of laboriously looping our biggest kites to grind little distances. So we rather did the opposite and waited for the increasing winds to get out our Beringer storm sails.
In barely 3 hours we kited about 55 km on the Beringer 8 m2 in steady winds of 50 km/h and 15 km on the Beringer 5 m2 with gusts up to 70 km/h. When we stopped, it was not without regret, as we quickly logged kilometers. But with strengthening conditions we started to worry about the resistance of the suspension lines of the sails with the heavy sleds. And most importantly, we needed to make sure we are still able to mount the tent.
The night was up to the forecast and our expectations. Despite a decent snow wall to protect the tent from the high winds, no sleep without earplugs.
The image shows Mika in the developing light blizzard. Even with better resolution, there wouldn't be much more to see. Its one of the particular things about these conditions, that we were kiting under stretches of perfectly blue sky, with the sun and clouds clearly distinguishable, while the surface is covered by a layer of thick driving snow.
The winds should weaken tonight and tomorrow, and we hope to take advantage of the wake of the storm. For the moment however (30/04) we are bound to the tent.
Beringer Skisails? These 'kites', developed by Wolf Beringer at least 30 years ago, have the particularity that the bar is directly connected to the bridles of only a few meters in length, that define the canopy, and without additional lines. Contrary to most current kites, the bar acts on the angle of attack of the canopy, rather than on the steering/brake back-lines. The direction of the Skisails is controlled by the torsion of the bar with respect to the wing. The control of the angle of attack with the bar provides direct control on the power of the wing. In strong conditions, this has the huge advantage that all traction can instantly be released. In addition, it takes less than a minute to take these Skisails down and packed. In combination with their excellent upwind performance, this makes for ideal storm sails. These advantages come at the price, that the Skisails cannot be 'worked' and looped to generate additional power in light conditions, due to the short lines and the particular steering system.
During his historic east-west crossing in 1888 Nansen already used conventional sails to aid progression. But the Beringer Skisails were most likely the first modern 'kite wings' used for a ski crossing of Greenland, when the Messner brothers stunned the world in 1993 (?) by covering the 1800 km from Isortoq to Qaanaaq, in barely more than one month.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Distance today : 83 km
Total distance : 435 km
Position : N64.748 W47.193, alt 2265m
Moving time : 7 hours
kites used today : Flysurfer speed 3 19
UUUrrghhh ! it doesn't go as well as it should... After a short night, and an early departure (around 11 am), we were epecting to "surf" on the western winds that our routeur announced. But this didn't happen : a weakly blowing wind, the fresh powder snow, and our very heavy pulkas made us struggle to get going. We constantly needed to loop the wings to progress : 3 loops per 100m. You can do the maths : how many loops for 83 km ? (the first one to send us the right answer will get a dedicated loop kilometer :-))
If the wind didn't allow us to use the 19m2 of wing, they were still strong enough to send us towards wrong direction at every loop we took ! As we are very stubborn we resisted this pattern, and forced ourselves to fight the wind. As a result our hips took it all, pulled by the wind one way, and by the pulkas the other way. That was a hell of a job ! 7 hours like this, progressing at a 10km/h average speed, how frustrating !
Hopefully the next days will be better...
PS : Rom (thanks, man) sent us your messages, We were delighted to read them after a hard days in the wild ; feel free to continue, it helps us a lot. Although it's hard to answer you or even to thank you personnally, it's been good to read from you, dear friends from the alps, from Grenoble, Annecy and everywhere else. We also read thoroughly your remarks about the blog (Thierry, Laurent, Varun...), and we'll try our best to keep them in mind. Thierry, we are thinking of you, of course. Scott/Admunsen ? Who lives will know ;-)
Monday, April 28, 2014
Total distance: 352 km
Distance today: 82 km
Position: 64.0529 N 47.8048 W, alt 2090m
Once more we had a late start, and left only around 5 pm local time to take advantage of the better winds in the evening and the night. The last days, we had the impression, that the wind was alway better at night - probably due to the diurnal variation of the katabatic winds, which currently reinforce the easterly meteorological conditions. Today however we had regrets about this choice, nearly the entire day would probably have worked for kiting. 5 hours on our Speed 3 19 m2 and an uncounted number of kiteloops made us gain another 82 km. The winds were already veering to the south, and progression with tailwinds was not always easy.
For tomorrow, the forecast even announces westerly winds, so we will try to get going earlier for the fear they might be balanced by the katabatics at night.
We crossed another few depressions, which looked to us like drained melt water lakes. The stranded iceberg in the image seems to confirm this interpretation...? The first really small and gentle sastrugis reminded us kindly, that progression will not alway be as smooth as the last days. Fortunately there were only a few short stretches of them.
We set camp close to the latitude of Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, - and close to the latitude of Reykjavik by the way. Greenland extends far to the south! Hello to Laurent, our logistic router, who lives in Reykjavik!
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Distance today : 88 km
Total distance : 270 km
Position : N63.314, W47.881, alt 2140m
Moving time : 7h30
Wings used today : Speed 19, speed 10 ; winds 12 to 30 km/h
At this lattitude in Greenland, at that time of year, there is still some hours of night (about 4 to 5), and that sets quite a bit the aerology of the area : temperature dropping at night generates more stable air flow on the surface on the ice (catabatic winds), and that usually happens between 7pm and 10am the day after.
In the afternoon, those winds are almost gone ; we therefore have to stop for a while between the wind system restarts again. As we cannot afford to waste time setting up camp every time, we are waiting outside.
The most efficient kite time would be between 7pm and 10 am, over night to get the most of the catabatics. But it's hard then to keep focus, to manage the hazards, and to maintain our bodies at good temperature.
So we just have to kite whenever we can, a bit in between, with pros and cons : in the afternoon we struggle a bit to keep progressing ; it gets a lot better during the evening ; and it's intense over night time.
That's why it's a bit hard at the moment to be efficient for very long, and therefore show better progression...
We would like to share a thought for towards our good friend Arnaud "Nono" Noel, who was doing all the communication coordination in 2008, when we crossed Greenland, from south to north.
And let's cheer for
- Laurent, franco-icelandic coordinator ; he makes sure you get our news, and get them transalted to both blogs (english and french)
- Rom and Rémi who are keeping a hand on our "lattitudes nord" facebook
- Thomas, who is preparing the prorgession maps everyday (under the tab "prorgession" of the web site)
- Sylvie, who "spies" on our friends/competitors belgo-canadians, which makes us feel less "alone" on the ice cap :-)
All the best to you dear firends...
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Distance today: 104 km
Total distance: 182 km
Position: 62.5342 N 47.6857, alt 1900 m
Hours kited: 5h30
With a good forecast for the evening, we took it easy in the morning. At around 13h30 we got going on our Speed 3 19 m2 and quickly made 35 km. We enjoyed a spectacular view on the coastal mountains and nunataks in the west - probably the last time for a long while! At 15h30 the wind got weaker and we took advantage for a lunch break. During the next 15 kms we had to loop our kites continuously to barely keep moving before the wind died completely around 17h30. After 2 hours of waiting, (and Sudoku for Mika - imagine a guy, concentrated, a pen in the hand, sit on a sledge, in the middle of a ice desert !), the wind picked up again, as promised by Marc, our meteorologic router. In the following two hours, we covered another 50 km, kiting leisurely at speeds well above 20 km/h and top speeds around 40 km/h. The daylight faded, and when the wind raised to averages above 35 km/h and gusts well above 40 km/h we were definitely pushing the limits of the Speed 3 19 m2. With another promising day ahead, we set camp after a little more than 100 km. We finally start to get going ! At an elevation of 1900 m we are still climbing, but the slope gets weaker and weaker. Yet the landscape is far from flat! At our position the icecap is textured by a succession of undulations, and while their scale of meters or tens of meters of several kilometers may seem absolutely ridiculous, we have the perception of climbing hills and crossing valleys.
Ps: we have crossed fox prints, the courageous animal went towards the east side of the icecap...
Friday, April 25, 2014
Distance today : 0
Total distance : 78 km
Again we went late to sleep, and missed out on the windy window of the morning. But we still packed everything to get going. But no wind to be found. We spent about 8 hours sitting or lying on our pulkas, waiting for the wind to pick up.
Around 8pm raises a freezing fog, and still no wind. Tired of waiting we pitch the tents again, only a few meters away from the previous camp...
All of a sudden after dinner i start to feel really bad : drop of pressure, nausea, high pulse, not far from loosing consciousness. I manage to get out of the tent quickly. Cornelius starts to feel the same.
We quickly realize what happened : the tent is quite well insulated (letting little air out, specially if no wind) and the air is circulating too little for our stoves to work properly. Other signs should have awakened us before : we could see that our cooking equipment was not doing a full and proper combustion, and we woke up a couple of times with some light headaches.
Good signs for a starting CO poisoning. This is very common of polar expeditions ; we'll have to watch out for that now.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Position: 61.6082 N 47.3536 W
Elevation: 1660 m
Distance today: 32 km
Total distance: 78 km
After yesterdays night kiting session we slept in late and rested in the tent, waiting for the wind to pick up again. We finally got out in the late afternoon and started kiting with our Speed 3 de luxe 19 m2 at around 16h30. While the 20 km/h of easterly wind is largely sufficient to power this kite it just barely kept us moving along the correct heading with our sleds. When the wind weakened, we extended ou lines from 21 m to 33 m and had to continuously loop our kites to keep going. We nearly called it a day, when the wind eventually gradually picked up, and pushed us comfortably for another 20 kms. With some mountains close by to our west, fading daylight, and temperatures dropping, we set camp at 21h30 after a total or 32 kms and another 300 m of elevation gain.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Instead of a picture from our night session, here is one in the tent to show you our home made sauna. The tent absorbs really well the solar radiation, despite the snow fall. Yes we’re having a pleasant 20°C plus, and Mika is just relaxing in his boxers...
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Right now we take advantage of this break to charge the batteries of our equipment, to rest, and to send a picture of Mika hauling one of his pulks up the glacier tongue above Qaleraligd Fjord, which can be seen in the background.
We hope for some more wind tonight or tomorrow evening to reach the 'plateau' and to get us to our cruise altitude of about 2000 m to 2200 m.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Distance today : 16,3 km
Total distance : 23,7 km
N61.179, W046.878, alt 825
9 hours of travelling
As we woke up, we finally cought some wind, as planned by our weatherman, Marc. But it was slightly stronger than planned. We tried our Beringer 8, but had to move on to the Speed 10. What a hard work sking against the wind, dragging our 2 super heavy sleds.
At 3pm we only had gained 300m elevation, and travelled 7 km northwards (a lot more in fact).
Later in the afternoon the wind turned a few degres east, which made our progression a bit easier.
We put up our camp at 7:30 pm.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Distance today: 3.2 km
Distance total: 6.9 km
Elevation 390 m
We spent another day ferrying up our heavy sledges (about 180 kg in total per person) on the glacier tongues towards the ice sheet. We have two sledges each of us, and the slope is still so steep, that we had to haul them one at a time. And while we did not make a lot of distance, every meter counts at this stage. We reached an altitude of 390 m, bringing us a little closer to where we hope to catch the wind with our kites. Hopefully tomorrow morning!
Envoyé de mon téléphone Android avec K-9 Mail. Excusez la brièveté.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
distance skied on day 1 : 3,7 km
total distance since departure : 3,7 km
61,0312N / 46,7952W / alt 160m
|Ready to go. Laansinnguaq is going to bring us to our starting point in|
Qualeraligd Fjord with the 'Tattak' from Blue Ice Explorer. In the
background, a cargo ship from Royal Arctic Line calling Narsaq. We had
shipped our equipment with one of those.
Boat drop off at the bottom of fjord Qaleralik, after zigzaging through the breaking sea ice.
After 1,8 km of flat snow, we had to drag, one by one, our humungus pulkas up the steep hill leading to the glacier outlet.
|Start on the pack ice in Qaleraligd Fjord.|
Then another effort to higher ourselves up to the same area where we established our first camp in 2008. That took us 2 forth and backs.
Total walikng time : 7 hours.
We're off to bed, exhausted...
Special thoughts to Hervé
Friday, April 18, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
With this, our equipment is now complete, and we are busy with re-packing and checking everything one more time.
And while we did not leave Narsaq the entire day, we certainly made good distance running errands between the harbour, the supermarket, various other places and the house where we are staying.
Its raining by the way.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Its only while sitting in the plane and flying over Greenland, that we realize the dimension of this huge endeavor. A grid, where each figure needs to occupy its precise position. A partial solution is not enough. Shortcuts will show their ugly face later on. Everything has to fall into place for the whole to make sense. Sixty plus days of "challenge", "difficult" and "master" are no piece of cake.
And while we are confident about our kiting skills and preparation we have come to realize the notion of defeat: Today Mika did not succeed to complete one of the easiest of hundreds of Sudoku we set out to solve along our way. The bar is set very high.
P.s. the two of us and part of the luggage have safely arrived in Narsaq.
Monday, April 14, 2014
and a short night for Cornelius, we catched our flight to Copenhagen
this morning. We are tired, but happy to be here - halfway to
Greenland. Tomorrow we are headed to Narsaq via Kangerlussuaq and
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
In the meanwhile "explorersweb" have sent us a few questions about our expedition and made a nice little article from our responses.
Read the article: explorersweb on Wings Over Greenland II
Explorersweb is a great website with news from the polar community, following up on expeditions, and full of inspiration for new projects.
Once on our way, we will resume with regular posts on our progression and the daily life of the expedition.
Stay tuned, departure from France to Copenhagen is on monday April 14, and our flight from there to Narsaq, Greenland is on tuesday 15 already!
|In 2008 we headed down to reach Qaanaaq over the frozen Bowdoin Fjord. This time we plan to push further beyond|
80 degrees north, before returning home on the eastern side
|Training in Finse. Playing in the hills with the Speed 4 10 m2.|
Friday, April 4, 2014
This causes quite same headache! The same question for each item. May it break? The answer is unfortunately rarely comforting, and it takes endless hesitations and discussions before we come to a conclusion.
Surprisingly, with increasing experinece we are more and more tempted to double redundancy and to reduce the risque of failure or loss which might be the end of the adventure. But at the moment of departure there is always the final verdict without compromise: Will all the equipment fit in our sleds? Will we be able to haul them?
The Sled is the suitcase of the polar traveller. And when the trip gets rough and long it should better be tough.
In 2005 three Norvegions had shown that it was entirely possible to accomplish a huge kite ski crossing of Greenland using sleds of average size and of moderate cost. In 2008 we have choosen very similar equipment and were entirely happy with the performance of this economic choice.
This time, our euipment and the food we need to cover more than 5000 km in full autonomy require the use of sleds of much larger load capacity. Yet we trust in the same concept and the quality of the same british manufacturer who already equipped our last big adventures, Snowsled Polar, who are now offering a much larger version of their successful Ice blue plastic pulks.
Roger Daynes and Snowsled Polar a company specialized in polar equipment, is one of our rare long term partners and we are really proud of this reciprocal loyalty.
Each of us is equipped with 4 Ice Blue® Expedition pulks: We stack two of these sleds one inside the other. And we each use two of these stacks in a catamaran configuration. While the catamaran configuration
pioneered by the three Norvegians gives the pulks the necessary stability for progression at high speeds in terrain covered by rough sastrugi, the stacking allows for a higher load capacity and provides redundancy in the extremely unlikely case of breakage or much more likely in case of abrasion on bare ice with moraine inclusions at the very beginning and end of the journey.
|New Snowsled Polar Ice Blue expedition pulk with increased load capacity.|
|New pulk bags with a volume of 350 l.|