Saturday, 14 April 2018

Skiing Icebergs

We went to the village about 50kms away to pick up 12 French military people and take them back to Constable Point for their flight the next day..

More snow blowing to get into the containers
A thin ribbon of snow though rocks
An interesting route, because all the sea ice had blown out near the village and we had to get there though the mountains via a complex route. It went up a valley which was barred by rocks, but the track, which had to be dug out, led through up an unlikely band of snow with a steep drop to it's left.

Filling our four 200lt fuel drums to take back for skidoo fuel.
One guy had a frightening crash on the skidoo at the village petrol station. His helmet was in front of him on the seat and got stuck under the throttle lever. He shot forward, missing another skidoo and building by inches until he hit a snow drift and the rolled the machine on top of him. All OK and only a broken mirror, but he was quite shaken and very embarrassed.

Broken sea ice below village - too dangerous to cross by skidoo.
Avoiding action to miss dog team
Returning from the village up the steep hill, we have to go one at a time, full throttle, in order to get the loads up. You tend to loose your steering at that speed on a slope and to meet a dog team coming the other way was not in the plan! They don't have steering either!

Iceberg on way to glacier recce
Various other recces for upcoming client inputs took us past some nice icebergs. Then a 3 day trip to Sydcap to do some activities for the film crew and pick up a German couple. We had a day to get out there, a day for the film guys and then picked up the 2 Germans and their guard dog to come back.

Route to Sydcap - 150kms
Red House
The Red House hut door had been blocked on the inside by snow and on each visit, we had been unable to get in. On this visit, with more time and good weather, Karl managed to dig and push the snow clear to get the door open. The Red House was now functional again as a refuge.

Crossing valleys on Jameson Land to get to Gurreholm. We call this section 'The Big Dipper'
First view into Scorsbysound and Sydkap beyond
The German Igloo
Connie and Dirk, have been coming out here for years and we have got to know them well. They always come out early season when it's cold and ski tour for about 3 weeks, completely unsupported. They rent the same dog each year from the village to keep the bears away. He's huge, old and an absolute sweetie. The dog, not Dirk!

Iceberg on the way to Sydcap
Sydkap house
On the way to Sydkap on the sea ice we saw another polar bear. It was quite a long way away and ran off into the icebergs and sea ice when we approached. However, we saw it's tracks all around Sydkap and all the next day on the sea ice and next to seal holes.

Melting snow inside Sydkap
The house was in good condition although many of the windows had been smashed by bears. There is a heater that runs on aircraft fuel, but it has been broken for years and we have never been able to get it going. However a new fuel valve had appeared and Karl spent the evening taking the whole thing to bits, cleaning all the pipes and by the end it was blazing perfectly. Hot enough to burn his finger on!

Looking for icebergs to climb
The next day we went out to look for icebergs to climb. This one was far too big and scary and had big lumps about to fall off it, but good to look at.

Big iceberg lump about to fall off
Iceberg climbing
I found a good one to climb, which wasn't so good to look at, but wasn't about to fall down. I led up to put a rope up for the cameraman. The others also climbed it and this is the second lead for the camera.

Skiing an iceberg
Finding an iceberg to ski was also challenging. It had to have snow on it, not fall down and  to be able to be climbed in ski boots. A first iceberg ski for me and everyone else who skied it.

The German's guard dog much preferred the box to it's cage
The return from Sydkap was a 9 hour skidoo trip in poor visibility. Poor contrast and white out conditions in fog and wind made following the tracks back very challenging.  I’m making a different person take full responsibility on every trip, which I think is being appreciated. Pete led this trip and went the wrong way at one point and drove straight over a wind tail. He was lucky it wasn’t bigger and the last thing I saw, was him disappearing in front of me and the big black box sledge following and tripping over ejecting the poor dog on it’s lead.

Roping up for glacier travel training
The day after at CNP we recovered from the trip and I ran some roped glacier travel training for folks doing a recce the next day.

Showing how to turn on a glacier whilst roped up on skidoos
Karl explaining the use of the electric winch

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