Wednesday, June 4, 2014

4000 km done, now we look forward to 5000 !

03-04/06, camp 42
Distance today: 151 km
Total distance: 4013 km
Position : N68.443 W36.244, alt 2845 m 
Moving time : 7 hours

We were kind of expecting it... The belgo-canadian team (Dixie and Eric), who went through this are a few days ago, made significant progression. To do so, one need not only good winds, but also excellent snow/surface conditions. You don't progress 300 km in 14 hours if you're not on a "pool table" kind of surface!appes de brouillard

Unfortunately when we started there was was no "pool table" surface to be found here : we kept on going down into a large depression, the catchment of Glacier Kangerlussuaq ; this is one of the big natural corridors of the east side of the "inlandsis", which convey the katabatic winds to the coast. We are gradually going towards lower altitudes ; every "stage" we lower we need to ski kind of old ladies, to compensate for any possible edge mistakes, as because of the speed we need to ski "flat" in the middle of the sastrugies.

Unreal lights. Around midnight, the sun, right to our back, is getting close to the horizon. Fog patches start to form here and there. We can observe white mountain tops to the east, probably from the Prince de Galles mountain range....

All of a sudden, when we finally stop going downhill, the sastrugies disapear ; the ground surface gets smoother and smoother. About 20 km further we even start to leave behind our beautiful track into the immaculate white of the new thin powder coat. We can't believe it. So, it is actually possible to find that type of snow in Greenland ! Just to make it complete a double halo forms around the sun.
Our big kite is chuck where it belongs in the window we're now firmly following our heading.
The lights are stunning, we're quiet happy with our heading... Everything would be just perfect if the cold was not that cold cold, biting our fingers and forcing us to wrapping ourselves in layers of warm things.

At about km 100, around 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, the wind gets stronger, so we get our speed 3 10m² out, so sure we're only at the beginning of a long and successful kite session... But only 20 km futher the wind drops again, we need to get our "big guns" again. Another 20 kilometers, and that's it, the wind just stops blowing, leaving us at 2845 m elevation, on a shoulder leading to the summit of the Schweitzerland to our south-east. We have to stop there, the "robbery of the century" is not gonna happen !

We are now on the land of King Christian IX, to the west of theDauphin Frederik's mountains, and to the north-west of the Schweitzerland mountain range's summit, Mont Forel.
We passed under the latitude of Tromso, in the north of Norway.

NB :
we dedicate those 4000 km to our common friend Aurelie. She made us 2 meet in the first place, and we owe her our best polar expeditions :-)

Finally we would like to congratulate warmly our "inlandsis" companions Dixie Dansercoer and Eric MacNair-Landry, who just finished thier circumnavigation : 4045 km in 55 days. Well done !
Now 2 teams remain on the cap with the same objective : the one of Ramon Larramendi, 2098 km so far ; and ours, with a clear target : 5000 km !!!

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