Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 9: A big one!

84:03.190S 74:19.142W Elevation 1096 metres!

Well, this update won't be long because I'm really tired... But don't let its brevity detract from the REAL big day it was.

Last night I told you about the wind outside. Well I woke to a strongish headwind, which made the day's toilet a bit of a chilled rear affair! Someone asked: No secrets, and no innovation, just have to find a bit of protection behind the tent then drop the pants and be quick! I dig a hole first and cover up afterwards... Pristine environment, and I'm doing my very best.... I haven't droppped one single bit of stuff that hasn't come 'out of me'... I even use a piece of ice as toilet paper! Ok, back to the wind...

Well I dressed for a big headwind, and that's what I got the whole day. I estimate it reached 40 knots (about 80km/h) but I raised my game and actually revelled in the conditions. Most of the time loose snow was being driven off the ice, forming like a rapidly moving smoke carpet, spiralling around the sastrugi...very eerie, but beautiful.

The I saw a few kilometres off to the east what looked like a sea iceberg protruding out of the otherwise flat almost whitehorse capped sea terrain shimmering in the sunlight. It was my first Nunavat... The peaks of the mountains below the ice just sticking through, and totally ice covered. Really nice, and makes me wonder what's under the ice I'm walking on. There were about 4 peaks, total length sticking out was about 300m long and a maximum height of maybe 15-20 metres.

Last two hours were tough as the surface was soft, like snow, causing the sled to sink in the snow making it very hard to pull.

The wind area has changed, as I was walking in the same direction as the sastruggi vs the 70 degre angle before. I do hope the wind drops tomorrow, but it is still blowing outside. I had my first real high wind tent erection, which went well. It's a great tent - the most wind friendly you get.

My pole repair worked like a dream... Oh, until 20 mins before end of day: It was stil working good, but looked as if something had moved a bit, so I thought I'd just test it. Well it just creaked in my hands, and oopsie, I knew all was not good. On inspection later in the tent it became aapparent that my razor shaft had also broken... Gee these poles take punishment, hey.

I've spent the last two hours looking for another solution, and have just completed repairs using a better quality tent pole (the other was from an old tent of mine, this time I cut the spares for the tent I'm sleeping in. They are much stronger and don't appear as brittle. Anyway that was the only option I was left with... Hmm, quite stressful, and I was hoping for a quiet early evening! Another nailbiting pole day ahead tomorrow...

Oh well, 27 kms done today, under difficult conditions, I should be happy with that...

I have to say I feel enormously challenged at the moment... positively, and REALLY feel alive dealing with all this. The conditions today made it bitterly cold, the rest times were what many would describe as nothing short of miserable, but I enjoyed using my skills to survive and be relaxed in the whole day's conditions...

Ok off to bed now... I wish I could share more of the specifics, but this already is longer than I had planned!



  1. Hi Howard
    nice to see you overcoming these challenges! Hope tomorrow is easier. keep well

  2. I hope you can get the Ski pole issue sorted out. Just curious... why not bring two extra skis?

  3. Fairbanks - push, push win. Nothing has changed over the years. Thoughts are with you as you deal with these obstacles.

  4. Hi Howard,
    Sounds like a tough day.Mentally you sound very good!Well done on the 27Km.Nature is severe on anything,hope you solve the pole issue.
    Look forward to day 10.