Rather chaotic start for Larramendi and Co.

Published on 15.12.2011 - Acciona Windpower Antarctica 90°S

Larramendi's sled

Larramendi's sled

© Expedition website

When they landed at the Novolazsarevskaia base, Larramendi and comrades had almost no time to make the final preparations of the voyage. Four hours after landing, they had to fly right away to their departure point.

From one plane to another

To make things worse, after having been dropped on the plateau on 8 December, they had to set up the sled in the middle of the Antarctic plateau at 30°C below zero and with a furry wind blowing around them. Actually, because Larramlendi has build a quite special sled for his expedition, this pulka needs about a full day to be mounted properly ; there are about 700 knots to be tied to complete the putting up, this sled being a dislocated one. They had scheduled-in two days to assemble the sled and finalize details in Novo.

Bad luck, as soon as they were on the plateau, an heavy storm arose. Larramendi on 8 December : "... We are in the Polar Plateau. A storm rages outside, blinding us. Fine snow dust seeps in through all the cracks. All our gear is buried in the snowdrifts. The thermometer reads -32 °C: the Antarctic welcomes us. This is our starting point for the great crossing. We’re 70 km from Troll, the Norwegian base, and almost 3,000m above sea level. The last 36 hours have been a blur. At 10 pm on day 6 we were having dinner at the Cape Town airport before taking off.  We did the six-hour flight on board a Russian IL-76 aircraft. It’s the best for these conditions, but it does have a quirky, very Soviet look, with visible pipes and no windows. It is, after all, a cargo plane. We were about 50 passengers and half the plane was packed with cargo. Most passengers were Germans from the Alfred Wegener Institute, but there were people from everywhere. ..."

Russian chaos...

" ... Upon reaching Novo, it was total chaos. The Russians were going from one place to another. No one knew what was going on. Vladimir, the leader, suddenly informed us that we’re scheduled for take-off at 8 am. Then at around 6:00, without even fueling, they wanted us to board the plane and head to our starting point. We had incoming bad weather, so if we do not fly now, we would have to wait until 12:00 or later. And now we faced the threat of bad weather blocking us on the Plateau. But everyone assured us that weather conditions would definitely be better in the Plateau so we could feel free to make headway while Novo was blocked. We agreed and took off, deciding to assemble the sled once we got there. But we didn’t like it one bit. ..."

After that, back luck was still in the air ; they had to stay five days at their starting point. That day, Larramendi wrote that "the giant puzzle that is, our sled is nearly completed." According to their latest news, they should be on the move today, 14 December.

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