They have had many days of whiteout and wind, but as they drop in elevation and reach the east coast they are also getting warmer temperatures, which leads to wetter snow. Today they had wet, clumpy snow that stuck to their skis during one push, and freezing rain during another push. Of course the wind and the whiteout were omnipresent. Eric says that he never even bothered looking up from his compass, so easy was it to drift off course. But tomorrow promises to bring better weather - maybe even full sun for a while - and if all goes according to plan, the last day on the icecap! A very exciting prospect indeed!
When you have a whiteout like today your eyes will sometimes play tricks on you. Your mind tells your eyes that there is some sort of object in the distance. It might move, or be still. It might be large, or small, it might be basic or detailed. You shake your head and blink, and it's gone, only to be replaced by something else a little later. It's odd, but strangely interesting. Much more frustrating is skiing in sticky snow. Skiing in sticky snow is one of the all time most frustrating ways to move - EVER! Your skis become heavier and heavier as more and more snow sticks to your skis with each step. Soon you are lugging 2, then 4, then 6 kg of snow under each foot. You can feel the mass of snow accumulating on the bottom of each ski. If it gets particularly large it can even throw off your balance! Every few steps you hit the skis with your poles to try and knock some of the snow loose, but rarely is it entirely effective. Instead you grunt, or curse, or if you are desperate you may ask a team mate to scrape your skis clean with his or her poles. But the freedom does not last for long. After only a handful of steps you may be back in the same situation! The cure is the right kind of ski wax, which if it works, is worth more than its weight in gold!
Heather touches on this in her blog:
It was a long day in a snowstorm with zero contrast so we went a little mental...
May 29th - T-1, A tale from Land of the Green
In a place far far away, King Eric, Knight Taylor, the Merrimen (Dale, Ian, John) and the Fair Maiden (I know I should be the bard, but I’ve always wanted to be a fair maiden, and I drew the line at buxom) were trying to join an exclusive club of Greenland crossers. Coldsnowwind, the God of Land of the Green (BTW Eric the Red, Viking, called it Greenland to make it sound attractive (truth) - though the only green thing I’ve seen to date is Dale’s pack) was uncertain as to the company’s worthiness and decided to create some final challenges. The first was a blizzard at break of camp, with zero visibility and heavy snow. The troupe kept the dogs and handlers close in case they needed sustenance and armaments. The first push saw success.
The god then put an uphill in the descent with deep deep powder, and again the company proved worthy. At the third push the God turned the snow into taffy - wet, sticking, grabbing and clawing at the skis. There was much stomping and swearing but the third push was achieved. At the break Knight Taylor found magic wax allowing a return to the slide and glide elegance that the troupe’s ski style was known for. The God got angry and sent freezing rain during the 4th push but the team prevailed. Verily the God tired of the challenge and thought perhaps this team may be worthy. Eric then led the team successfully over the required distance to camp! Thus ends the legend of T-1, Land of the Green.
Below: Into the White. What do you look at when there is nothing to look at?