Tuesday, 19 May 2009

MURRAY: DAY 25, 17th MAY - Mission Accomplished!

“6km, easy, a couple of hours”, we thought to ourselves as we settled in to the last night situated in a sea of beautiful but daunting blue boulders. I mention to Niall that after traveling so hard for so long to make it back in time for his friends wedding, and now so close, that we could have a cheeky and well deserved lie in. But as I half expected (and anybody that knows Niall, being so focused and wise) met the reply “nah, don’t be silly I won’t be able to sleep, we should get up earlier and get the job done”. I didn’t take this notion well and to illustrate this I woke up at 5am and fetched the rifle and a well crafted snowball, which proved an extremely effective alarm clock. Bang! As a shot thundered into the air “wakey wakey rise and shine, it’s hauling time”. Smack! As the snowball creams him in the face. All sounds a little harsh but it was all done in the highest of spirits.
So we were now both wide awake at silly o’clock, might as well take the last few lazy steps to where we could call for a pickup which, being a Sunday, was unlikely to come till the next day. The ice had hardened with the cooler evening temperatures, and the with it the chance of me falling into very very deep snow covered hole were minimized. But unfortunately it still looked and felt as though someone had taken a sledge hammer to my feet. Every step was agonizing, “but only a couple of hours”, I cheerfully thought to myself!
Within 10 minutes we had already hauled our pulks over many ice boulders and up to a ridge. WOW! The sea of ice no longer stretched as far as the eye could see. Nope, it met land. A dusty gravelly landscape in the far distance, that was it. The end looked so easy. Spirits soaring and many a cheer and high five later we discovered a couple of steep slopes that we could sit on our pulks and slide down. This day was getting better and better. The next thing that stopped us in our tracks was a man made feature - skidoo tracks (a form of snow quad bike) and they appeared to be going where we had to go.
3km in and the ice boulders became the size of houses. The skidoo in out and over what can only be described as ice valley boulders until we were stopped yet again in our tracks. Altitude 700meters and the ice was melting, and fast, and the tracks were now covered in feet of water. Wading was no option - the kit and us would get wet as proved when one of my pulks accidentally slid into one of these pools and sank. We detached from our pulks and crawled on all 4’s up a house sized boulder on our left to find that there was no feasible way round and that the only option was to individually, one by one, lift and slide each pulk up the side and over the very steep sheer ice valley, made even trickier now that the soles of our shoes had become separated from our boots. Niall controlled the front and I controlled the back. One slip or mistake would see us and the pulks slide 20ft into the icy cold water.
Nearly 5 hours passed. We were 3 x slower then what it would usually take to cover that distance but inch by inch we edged and limped our way down and off the spectacular icy feature. “We’re off!!!”, indicated by Niall as he bent down and tenderly patted the first rock he found. “What’s that? Dude, people.’’ 3 figures appeared on the hillside. I jokingly shouted to Niall that maybe we could hitch a lift with them. The figures proceeded to scramble down the hill and greeted us. Hans Christian, a Danish carpenter, and his 2 colleagues had coincidentally come to see the ice. They couldn’t believe there eyes to see 2 tiny red, heavily bearded and burdened specks weave their way towards them. They had extremely kindly hung around to see if we needed a lift. Result! Call it fate or call it being jammy, either way A JOB WELL DONE.
During the drive back I saw some of the most beautiful countryside in all my life. Wild deer roaming free, stunning ice formations and a car stuck in ice blocking the road. The gathering crowd took great pleasure at mine and Niall’s appearances, especially our hobbling walk. Needless to say, yet another hurdle jumped. We’re now based in the very small town of Kangerlussuaq, population 700, but being on an ex-American air base there’s a bowling alley and a small shed here we consumed two long dreamt of family sized pizzas. Taking a shower and putting on clean clothes resulted in a shock as we realised how much weight we have lost. Although eating really well I’m going to say that I’ve lost over a stone and a half and Niall equally as much. Our heads with big hair and beards look ridiculous compared to our bodies. We fly back soon and have hundreds of photos of heads and beards for you guys so the shows not over yet. Just like to say thank you again for all of the support and I couldn’t have done it without you. And our position is nice warm bed stuffing mouths with Twix and Mars.

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