The team awoke to hard driving rain which started around 4 AM and did not let up all day. They broke camp around 8 AM and had an extremely challenging day descending the glacier in the driving rain. They were only able to ski for the first 200 metres, then had to switch to walking. The first 2 hours they had snow, then it changed to bare ice for the remainder of the descent. The conditions were such that their sleds were either sliding ahead of them or hitting them in the ankles. If they put the brake on the sled, it would get stuck in the ice or cause so much friction that it was nearly impossible to maneuver. They were able to enjoy some incredible landscape, having a lateral moraine on their right for much of the descent and seeing a number of moulins (a moulin or glacier mill is a roughly circular, vertical to nearly vertical well-like shaft within a glacier or ice sheet which water enters from the surface. The term is derived from the French word for mill, per Wikipedia) Everything and everyone was soaking wet- whenever the sleds tipped over, water poured out. Imagine trying to control a water filled sled on solid ice on a steep descent while trying to maintain one's own balance... Needless to say, when they reached the bottom, everyone was absolutely elated- as well they should be!!
They were picked up near the bottom of the glacier and had a spectacular 4 wheel drive from the edge of the glacier onto Highway 1. When they reached their lodging, everyone thoroughly enjoyed a hot shower and a celebratory dinner. Their rooms are draped with soaking wet clothing on every available surface and hanging area. The theme for the day was "wet, slippery and exciting"! They were too tired to call in an audio update for the blog but promise that they will leave a group update tomorrow so be sure to check back.
The forecast for tomorrow is for more rain... But they'll be getting a protected ride to Reykjavik for their final night of well deserved celebration before heading home.
The photo does not capture the driving sheets of rain but does give a sense of the challenging conditions
Eric Rutherford's smile definitely captures the sense of accomplishment!
Want to join our 2018 Vatnajökull Expedition? Read more about it here.