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12 January, 2003

Traverse to Beardmore

Do you remember that line from "Raiders of the Lost Ark?"

Indy's companion: "Come, we must hurry, there is nothing to fear here." Indy: "That's exactly what scares me."

This describes our traverse.

The morning started out overcast, but calm winds and pleasant temperatures. But by an hour into the traverse, we were heading into a fierce wind from the south, blowing snow and ice bits in our faces. This was definitely the coldest I've felt. By lunch, I two sets of toe warmers going in my boots, and I was wearing my ski mask for the first time since the shakedown. We all found ourselves running in place to keep warm, when we weren't driving. Overall, the traverse went fine, except for some individual problems.

My problem was that my sled was top heavy and tipped a dozen times on the sastrugi. At one point, we belayed the sleds down an icy slope. Scott's ski-doo started sliding sideways, hit a snow patch, and tipped over, with Scott still on it. He's fine, but he rode it all the way down. Finally, the sastrugi died out, and we found ourselves on smooth, flat, powdery snow. How ideal.

This is where it really got interesting. We noticed holes starting to open up behind the ski-doo and sleds in front. I saw Jamie stop, and realized we were right in the middle of a crevasse field. Jamie compared navigating crevasses like navigating a mine field. Sometimes, crevasses can be spotted easily, by a change in character of the snow, but these came from nowhere, and in an area we didn't suspect them. Jamie gave us clear instructions how to get over and around them, and we made to Beardmore camp just fine. We got in about 8:00PM, about 11 hours after we started.

We all have sore muscles from the ride, but are almost packed and ready to go. With luck, two LC-130's will be landing here on Tuesday night. We won't get into McMurdo until close to midnight, but those showers operate 24 hours. The Rekki team is planning on posting tomorrow. I'll post again from McMurdo, if everything goes according to plan.

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