Larramendi : difficult to leave the SP

Published on 09.01.2012 - Acciona Windpower Antarctica 90°S

Larramendi and team have difficulties to move away from the South Pole with their sled-engine. The winds are blowing in the wrong direction.

Excerpts of Oficialdegui diary (9 January) : " ... Wind conditions have been particularly difficult today and we’ve had to travel in really adverse conditions to be able to achieve the 90º difference. The sled is stretched to its limits and has taken on the shape of a set of shears, while the kite is in the grip of the wind, completely unstoppable. But we’re bang on course and, anyway, who knows when we’ll get the same weather conditions? So today it’s all about “carrying on regardless”. Powder snow, smooth terrain, bitter cold, snowstorms, 18km/h cruising speed, a nine-hour shift ahead, pulled along by an 82m2 kite, pie in the sky as we discuss what presents we’re going to give to Ramón and Javi who are fast asleep in the tent. ..."

But, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts, here in Antarctica everything comes with a catch. After an hour of “tense satisfaction”, one of the lines gets snarled up in a small sastrugi (barely worthy of the name) and it ends up on the ground. The kite is totally at the mercy of the wind, the sled swerves 90º, the ground is full of swept snow, an 82-square meter kite is tangled up in lines…it’s a complete mess. Our hands end up numb with cold after an hour’s repair work. Three kite lines are broken. And then the sled starts up at right angles to the wind. Juanpa, who’d gone to recover the kite, barely has time to jump on board."

"Here we go again, back in Wonderland and with our imagination starting to run wild. I’m really cold and I’m having a hard time preventing my face from freezing: my hands are deep inside the glove protectors on the kite controls and even the tiniest opening in my balaclava is enough to remind me of just how hopeless my efforts are. No change for the next two hours. But, just as things appear to be going well, I suddenly and inadvertently let go of one of the controls and lose control of the kite.
What’s going on? I’m forced to lunge forward for the quick release lever and let the kite fly off, swept up by the wind…along with my spirits and energy. One of the anchoring lines has snapped and, not for the first time, another mass of kite and lines keeps us busy until the end of our shift. My frustration is enormous: we were within an ace of covering a considerable distance and getting ourselves out of this complicated zone…"

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