Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Darth Vador

10-11/06, camp 46
Distance today : 165 km
Total distance: 4557 km
Position : N64.403 W42.597, alt 2090 m
Moving time : 11 hours

Darth Vador, you know, the bad guy in Star Wars. The one of whom we don't see the face, always hidden behind a black mask...
That's now my daily routine : to dress up like him (sometimes up to 3 layers of balaclavas. I'm not intending on conquering the empire with a laser sword, but rather protect my face from frostbite. On top of the mask, a helmet, ski goggles, a buff and all the available hoods over the helmet. Only my mouth is exposed to direct contact with the glacial air.

Everyday, before every kite session, dressing up is a routine that takes us quiet a while...
Underwear : we're always in them, even at night time. We rarely change them (i'm wearing the same warm underpants from day 7 !!)

Then we have fleece jacket, goretex overall, goretex jacket, down overall and jacket. For the hands we used undergloves, gloves and mittens (depending on how cold it is). Therefore everyday there a bunch of gloves hung in the tent, drying for the day after.
Before to start everyday we wrap our feet in plastic bags so we don't wtten our socks and shoes. If it looks disgusting, we figured that was the best way to insulate this part our bodies. Feet are so important, and so sensitive to cold. Also that way we don't have to change our socks too often (i used only 2 different pairs in 52 days !!).
Now comes the delicate moment : get into the ski boots : when it's very cold the plastic of the shell is so rigid that it takes a few minutes for the feet to settle properly in. Once the boots are fitted and well closed, then we put them into some neoprene overboots...

Hands and feet are very sensitive to cold. The purpose of wearing fleet and down overalls is to keep our body cores warm enough so it can irrigate well the extremities (hands and feet) with blood. The neoprene overboots are a pretty important addition to the feet insulation.

Once the camp is wrapped, the kites set, and the pulks closed tight (this would require an entire chapter on its own), we still have to get into our harnesses, check that all buckles are tight, double check that the shoes are all good, use the carabiners to connect ourselves to the kite's limes, get on the skis, hook ourselves to the "chicken loop" of the kite, and its safety line (the 5th line), adjust the ski goggles, the mask and helmet, turn the GPS on, set the right bearing, confirm the heading angle, put on gloves and mittens...

If we're lucky enough the kite will take off properly and we'll finally be able to focus on our most important daily mission : travels as many kilometers as possible, as long as we can...

Today it's june 11 ; it feels like it should be soon enough time to get rid of Darth Vader suit...

One more time we hope the evening katabatic winds will be with us we take off at around 22:30. Just before midnight the sun sets below the horizon, and rise about an hour and a half later. Our Speed 19m2 is still lit by the reflection of the low sunlight and, as we're getting into twilight we're heading towards a full moon, just about setting on the south horizon line. The atmosphere is wonderful.

Our Speed 19m2 is still lit by the
reflection of the low sunlight.

Around 1 in the morning the katabatics get stronger, and on this fast surface our sails are too big. We therefore start to use our storm wings. But after only a few kilometers, the wind drops a bit... We swap the Beringer 8 for the Speed 10m2, and the wind takes this opportunity to get stronger again. The progression requires all our attention.

Moonset ...

... sunrise.

To our south-east we see the snowy summits that looks over Koge Bugt bay, and only a few kilometers from us the slopes of the ice cap look like they're getting steeper, and quiet crevassy. We make sure our trajectory will avoid those conditions ; here the the snow is made of a lot of undulations which make us travel for about 2 hours on a tricky-foggy-undulated ground... with snow drifts. Nice !

Around km 120 we can see to our east hand side (at about 20km) 2 nunataks that look over the fjord Gyldenloves a bit below. That is there that a very famous norvegian expedition landed after drifting through the sea of ice after the first crossing of the inlandsis in 1888.
A bit further heading south, south-east we can see the mountain ranges of the Land of Thor and Odin. We're entering the region of King Frederik VI.

We're now at the latitude of the lower third of Iceland.

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