Tuesday, 8 April 2014

First Storm

Claire and I got out for our first skidoo trip the day before the storm to check out travel systems and complete a couple of initial route recces. We did about 60kms and the surfaces were surprisingly good. Very little sastrugi even in the areas which have high snow wind ridges, which usually slow progress to just a few kms an hour. This time we could travel at up to 40kph on flat snow.
Ready to go
 The wheels with worn out bearings did not break, but we had some spare worn ones with us and the sledge to tow a doo back if need be.

On the other side of the fjord looking toward CNP
 All our travel systems seemed to work well with the sat phones operating, the spot GPS tracker system sending out our position to base every 10 mins and our emergency camping and survival container in order. I have installed custom maps on our GPS units which worked well showing our position on a map as opposed to way points on a white screen that we used last year.

Synoptic of storm approaching
Big storm here for two days and this is the 3rd day. 70kph winds and we had to dig our selves out of the container yesterday morning. The door was completely blocked, but we got out OK. This morning was even worse and we had to get one person out by digging a tunnel and crawling out into the storm, then going round to the other container and Weather Haven to dig them out. Fortunately our door opens inwards, but the Weather Haven tent opens outwards and in a big blow no one can get out, even with the tunnel we dug. 

Snow drifts block door of the container where we sleep

Tunnel complete and preparing to venture out
There was a French group trying to find the airport yesterday. They were ringing up for GPS positions and arrived in the middle of the evening. They had spent 7 hours traveling 7kms in the storm, two of which had been spent just trying to find the airport. Unfortunately the leader got frostbite in one of his fingers, but seems not to be too badly injured.

Coming out

Digging out the doorway - it fills again in an hour
Digging out the Weather Haven

We have a power line to follow to get from camp to the airport, so I've suggested to everyone that we should use that route and only travel in pairs. The storm was in full flow this morning so getting to the Hilton was fun. It's only about 150 mts away and was OK following the power line, but after we got to the main hangar, the way was blocked by a huge wind tail (snow drift) about 3 mts high which we had to climb over in the white out with only a vague idea of which direction to go in.

Digging the tunnel from the Weather Haven
Tunnel complete - ready to drift in again
Operating outside is impossible, so we are doing lots of indoor jobs in the Weather Haven

We were splicing glacier travel ropes yesterday in the Weather Haven, but today was more winds of 70 kph. We have a had a Hilton day today as it's too difficult to the get to the Weather Haven, so we have just been planning our strategy for the coming weeks.
Splicing ropes
Claire finds the weather forecast amusing in the Hilton
Looking forward to the weather getting better tomorrow and our first groups arriving on the delayed flight – as long as they can get the runway clear!

Hoping for better weather

1 comment:

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