Well the castle is erected and we’re inside and sated after by far the most arduous day of the expedition to date. For today, mother Greenland threw all she had at us. I awoke at 6 and had a little look at our thermometer which records and stores the temperature on the hour every hour. It read -24.1C for 2am and then for 3am and 4am it just says LOW. We must assume that it went below -25C inside the tent last night. It has not escaped my attention that Murray never uses the tents pee bottle and I simply put this down to his great bladder control. However the past few mornings Muzz has been most aggrieved that upon awaking his sleeping bag has been soaked while mine remains dry. Never using the pee bottle and waking up to a soaking sleeping bag every morning, hmm, I let you decide if there’s a link there.
Muzz averted a near disaster just in the nick of time yesterday. Having just been to the loo he forgot to do up his fly. We got off hauling in -18C with light headwinds when Murray suddenly noticed a sharp pain in his loins. He looked down and through his open fly he saw a large patch of frost on his boxer shorts. Sure enough, his skin had iced up too and it took some warming to regain any life between his legs.
Yesterday evening was tranquillity itself and this morning started in much the same vein. Muzz and I hauled alongside each other for the first time in nearly a week and we made great ground, covering over 7km in our first 2hr shift including a stop for me to change skis after one of my bindings snapped. The winds picked up and during our second shift force 3, touching force 4 and we were singing the praises of these katabatic winds as we cruised to 8km in our next 2hrs. 2hrs later and it was too windy and cold to dig into our bags for our water so we guzzled our rations in seconds and we were off again. The laces on my right boot loosened putting undue strain on my ankle, but to stop and retie would have meant certain frostbite. Force 4 turned to force 5 to force 6 to force 7 and before we knew it we were in complete whiteout. Unable to see anything until you skied over it, flying ahead of the winds in -15C plus considerable windchill with gusts of gale force 8. The conditions went from severe to extreme very quickly. It was far too dangerous to stop after our 4th 2hr shift so we just kept on going, hoping the wind and snow would subside. At this point it was vital we remained very close to each other to continually check on each other’s clothing and general state. We were in a serious snowstorm at –15 C and travelling very fast. We reached 3hrs since our previous break and the winds still had not abated. We now faced the task of erecting the tent in a gale. As soon as we stopped down jackets were donned which immediately eased the chill on our rapidly cooling bodies. We worked together as rapidly as possible and dug the tent in to withstand yet more serious weather and then dove inside for a Twix and a mars bar each. Conditions have been far to serious to faff around fiddling with the GPS checking distances so you can imagine my delight when I saw that we had covered 34.1km and now find ourselves at 66 40.970’N, 44 33.760’,W altitude 2338m. Today got mighty serious, not least for Muzz and his little night time mishaps. Here’s hoping it calms slightly tomorrow. This is Niall, warm, well fed and happy, if a little relieved that today is over. Signing out.