North Pole Day 9

Last night as we slept a new weather system moved in. The tent started to shake from the wind and the clouds started to form. By morning the wind was blowing maybe 25km and visibility dropped to about 2km. We packed camp and by the time we were ready to go the wind had picked up more, the clouds filled in and dropped to surface level and the snow began to blow. This all resulted in near zero visibility.

I pulled out the GPS to find our direction of travel and tried to set my compass by it. However, the compass basically just spun in circles and was useless. I tried to find a landmark and set off and was almost immediately off course. The plan we developed was for Angus to lead and I would hang back and off to the side to direct him and let him know if he was veering off course.

By the second ski block I could actually see a landmark in the distance, but I could see nothing at my feet. The light was so flat and there was no horizon that it was like skiing inside a ping pong ball. The effort was huge and since I could not see I continually tripped over and slid off snow ridges. I plugged forward trying to make some distance towards our goal.

By 2:00 we hade travelled 10km. We were moving slow but getting closer to our goal. At around 2:30 we arrived at the magnetic North Pole location in a blowing storm. Fortunately, it was not too cold, and we enjoyed about 30 minutes savouring the time and taking photos. We gathered in a circle, read Heroic Hearts by Ulysses and sang O Canada.

We were excited to have achieved our goal, but our journey was not done yet. We need to get out of the broken and piled up ice to find a place for the plane to pick us up. We set off and soon realized we were not going to get far in these extreme conditions.

I angled us back closer to shore to find a sheltered spot. After a while I found a large ice block that had created a wind block and drifted snow. We stopped and with teamwork we were able to excavate two holes and build 4’ snow walls to protect our tents. It took us about 90 minutes but when we were done we had two solid tent set ups.

Everyone is now in the tents and dinner is done. I have the stoves burning to give us some heat and we will soon go to bed. Tomorrow we will hope the weather clears so we can travel to our next and last location.

Good night from the ice.