By Sebastian Copeland
Sebastian on an archeological dig: somewhere under there are two disgruntled kite skiers!
The day started in the manner which we have grown accustomed to in the last few--the last five, to be exact: howling winds, tent flapping, and some measure of discouragement. No breaking news there. This would make it day six of being pinned down inside the tent, sheltered from a nasty and persistent wind storm that has hurled snow drift at our thin nylon walls, and cranked up the decibels for what amounts to 126 uninterrupted hours! Aside from time lost, I had a growing concern: we were slowly being entombed by rising walls of snow drift! By now, our sixth day, they reached almost three feet to the leeway side. If someone were to have come upon our campsite, they might have thought that we had dug a hole to pitch our tent inside of it! This was certainly not threatening; it just meant that we would have a hell of a time digging ourselves out of it!
And then, by midday, the nagging flapping began slowing down. We ventured outside, and sure enough the spin drift was gone, the sun was bright, and without question, the winds were pulling back! With very little need for encouragement, and eager to get some exercise, we started the excavation process. This borders on archeological work, because while the top part is mostly packed snow, the bottom--the one in contact with the tent's flaps--had turned to solid ice and required an extra delicate touch in order to prevent ripping the nylon to shred. An overly damaged tent will challenge an expedition, or worse, bring it to an end.
It took four hours to dig ourselves out! During this time, the wind came down to a pleasant breeze; the sun was bright; and we relished the thought of moving along. No sooner were we back in the tent, packing six days worth of accumulated mess, that a violent gust shook the walls again, and the familiar sound of drifting snow against the fabric brought us right back to where we were--five hours earlier! The wind had changed direction, build in a manner of minutes, and now were beginning to fill our freshly excavated hole with new snow!
In short, it is now 6:30 PM and the wind speed is back to gusts of 60 mph or so. We are back to writing blogs, reading books, and dreaming of crossing Greenland on kites, in what has come to resemble a sleeping cure. No doubt, there are more appropriate centers for some of those...and hopefully quieter!