Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The hell of the north (sastrugies fields)

19-20/05, camp 30
Distance today : 161 km
Total distance : 2640 km
Position : N79.989, W33.776, alt 1800 m
Moving time: 7 hours

The "Paris-Roubaix" of kiters...

We are now heading east-south-east. Preparing an evening session is a bit tricky, as the temperature is at the coldest , and constantly decreasing. We're taking off under great blue sky around midnight ; the west-southwest wind is growing. Its strength and direction is more favorable than the last days, and we decide to use our storm wings Beringer 8, a lot easier to use than our other kites. The difficult and "breaking" ground confirms this good decision, as those wings are just easier to handle ; it's better to progress with them under those difficult conditions.

Our speed is quiet good, sometimes well above 30km/H, and the ground is more and more tricky. We quickly notice something important : the snow is not blown anywhere. The wind is sometimes greater than 50km/h...
No snow blown shows the lack of precipitation at this area on the glacier, probably due to dry cold air. But that means big and strong sastrugies, sometimes even vitrified by the wind. Tens of kilometers in this battle field challenge a lot our legs, and our equipment, the poulkas are sometimes flying high despite their 150kg weight.

Cornelius is feeling pain on one knee, we need to paus equiet often so it eases out. I start to get more and more concerned by a tenderness on the heel, that i've been feeling for about 12 days now.
I feel it even more at the 60th km.
Km 120 my pain at the heel becomes quiet serious ; i even finish the day on one foot (about 40km) As soon as i out my injured foot's edge down i nearly fall, which makes me suffer even more. But using only one foot for edge support can only be a short term solution, as it's very hard to ski that way.
Km 160, it's not reasonnable to keep going this way ; the ground is as hard as it can and the way is stronger than ever.

Around km 80 we noticed that one of Cornelius's poulka went open. A quick check tells us nothing seems to get lost. A bit later th same thing happens again, but this time we realize we lost our main cooking stove, as well as one of our med kit. Luckily we have both one med kit and one cooking kit extra. But it means we now have no spare ; and those things are quiet vital. Let's hope that type of problem will stop here ; we have to be even more careful with our gear.

So all is still allright now, but we'll have to be more careful if we want to keep going.

PS : our best greetings to the 2 doctors that helped us prepare our med kits : Dr Marie-Anne Magnan (Ifremont) and my good friend Sophie Castets.

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