Today was our longest and hardest yet. We woke at 6:15am after another cold night and were on the trail by 8:50. Initially the conditions were great and we made very good time. Thor Island was far in the distance and we had our sights set on the peninsula of Ellefrengis Island. We followed our GPS way point and after about 3 hours we left the sea ice and entered the land.
Once on land we started to go up. It was gradual at first but difficult, nonetheless. Any incline is felt when one is pulling a sled. To make things worse the snow turned to a mix of concrete and crystals. Neither of which make for good traction for the skis. I took my skis off and walked for a bit but that was too difficult and took too much energy so I dug into my sled and got out my full length ski skins. Once they were on it was like I had magnets on my feet and I could walk up just about anything.
The terrain got steeper and the snow decreased so we had to pick our way up a steep valley between patches of snow. The going was slow and hard. After a few hours we crested into a big snow bowl and the group was getting tired. It was not a great spot to camp so Angus and I went up to the top of the highest point to see where we could go. We spotted a nice spot a little further up the valley and got the group going for one more push. It was steep and hard but as we crossed over the pass we were back into the deep snow. A little further down and we found a nice spot to camp.
The clouds came in today and the temperature dropped as a result. There is also a bit of a wind so we had to build snow walls around the tents to help protect them.
We are now done dinner and people are getting into their sleeping bags for the night. I still have some chores to do before I turn the stoves off.
We have about 18km more of land travel and I hope it gets a bit easier. It will take us all of tomorrow to get through and perhaps some of the next day as well. This is the most difficult section of the trek. I hope the weather stays nice as that at least makes the trekking a little more pleasant.
Good night from the ice.