Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Jouney to Sydcap

Two journeys. Cap Greville and Sydcap/Staunings

We delivered 7 people to Kap Greville a few days ago to do the N – S Liverpool Land Traverse. A round trip of about 180 km which took about 7 ½ hours. As we travelled up the sea ice in Carlsberg Fjord the snow became really deep and I struggled to break trail. The skidoos started using double the amount of fuel and by the time we dropped the team off I was down to ¼ of a tank and getting seriously concerned about having enough fuel to get back. We had 40 extra litres in cans with us and this gave us just enough to make it back home to CNP. 

Deep snow at Kap Greville
Group departing at Kap Greville
The next day we had to set out again for the Staunings Alps to put 3 people there. The whole trip took 3 days and was about 390 kms. We were delayed setting off until 12.00pm because one of the shock absorbers under a doo had sheared off. We got it fixed, but had to take it into the engineering hangar and it took all morning.

During this time the weather was gradually deteriorating. The wind was picking up and visibility was worsening. We set off in -20c with a wind chill of over -30c. Any slight gap around your helmet or goggles became numb in seconds and our goggles were constantly freezing up making navigation difficult. One of the clients was constantly complaining of a cold bottom and eventually stuffed some Karrimat down it, which looked ridiculous. After 40kms we had had enough and reached the Red House, a hut on a col with a welcome stove, which runs on aviation fuel. 

Evening at the Red House
Dinner in the Red House
We spent the night there and next day the wind had dropped and it was a bit warmer. A long trip to the Staunings via the fuel depot and deep snow saw us leave the group at about 5.30pm and then get the house at Sydcap for about 6.30.

Fuel depot on West Jameison Land
Staunings Alps
Bunnies in the Staunings Alps
Final leg to Sydcap on day two
The stove there doesn’t work so well, but took the chill off and we had a reasonable night. The house is set in a really spectacular setting right on the coast with icebergs all around. 

Ice bergs at Sydcap
Sydcap house
View from Sydcap
Unfortunately, during our satellite phone call with base we learned that the group had left one of their tents in our sledge so it was another early start to drive all the way back to them before heading home on the third day.

Setting off on the final day
We had met some locals in the Red House who had travelled direct overland to Gurreholm and cut a corner off our route. I fancied trying this new route by following their track back and seeing if it was quicker. It wasn’t. There were numerous deep valleys to cross and we lost an hour or more getting stuck in deep snow in the bottom. We’ll stick to our longer, but simpler route in future. We got back at about 5.30 at CNP in time for an airport dinner and it’s taken us a few days to recover from the trip.

Inside the hut at Gurreholm
Getting stuck in a valley
Getting out of a valley
Arctic fox on the sea ice
Musk Ox in Jamieson Land
More bad weather and the mechanic arrived and fixed our broken Doo, which needed a new magneto fitting. We found more bent wheel brackets which saw me heating them up with an acetylene torch to bend them back into position. The next group have arrived for ‘Iceman, so I think I’ll be pulling pulk sleds on skis for the next few days.

Bulldozer digging route to the Hilton
Bulldozer getting stuck
Twin Otter arriving with mechanic
Dog team waiting out the bad weather
Bending back wheel brackets

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