5 days without seeing the sky!
Published on 05.12.2008 - Expedicion Caixanova 2008
There's a golden rule that virtually always applies in the Antarctic: if it's windy, there are no clouds, and vice versa.
Between 26th and 29th November, Chus Lago didn't have to cope with the wind, but there were other problems.
First of all was the lack of visibility. Everything was white. She couldn't see where she was going or even where she was putting her feet. She knew she hadn't lost her sledge because she had to pull it along behind her. But she couldn't see it. She couldn't even see the ends of her skis. And then she couldn't ski because with no points of reference, like the horizon, she just lost her balance. "So I took them off and decided to walk," reports Chus. She also had to keep on stopping every so often to check her compass and GPS to make sure she wasn't going round in circles. The only benefit was that because there was no wind, there were no sastruggis. Then there were problems with her drinking water. To keep the blood pump properly, as well as keep on going all the time and not suffer from frostbite, you have to drink: drink, drink and more drink. And when your Thermos is empty, you have to light the stove and melt some snow. To do that, Chus has to stop moving, which means putting up her tent so that she doesn't get cold. All of which takes time. "Too much time", she reckons. Apart from that, Chus is not experiencing any technical or physical problems, just the loneliness. "When you're totally alone", she says, "all you can hear are your thoughts, and that can end up getting you down!"
But despite everything, she still made good progress over those 4 days, averaging 19.6 km a day and in particular crossing the 82nd parallel.
On 30th November, the sky finally cleared and it was the wind's turn to slow Chus down. Starting at 30 km/h in the morning, the wind speed in the blizzard picked up to 60 km/h after 8 km of progress. So Chus put up her tent in a hurry and took refuge from the wind under canvas that was making a deafening noise. Which is where she stayed for a whole day. "24 hours in your tent is bad enough, especially when you've only got yourself for company," she says.
Finally, on 3rd December and with the wind blowing at 55 km/h, Chus covered 22 km in 11 hours.