This morning as we were packing our sledges a seven swan formation flew over our tens from north to south. It made us ponder if some dark creatures were stretching their evil fingers from the north and the swans were fleeing them. But because we have our Gore-Tex, Hilleberg and tough attitude we just turned the tip of our skis facing north and started grinding. Neatly put we have a precise schedule. What it really means is that we better work our asses off with the taste of blood in our mouths and there’s no time for storm days. But skiing is what we came here to do and ski we will. It isn’t supposed to be fun. Fun is overrated. Today the weather took yet another direction. Iceland is rather peculiar in that way – now it’s aurora borealis and minus 23 centigrade.
I still want to return to our yesterdays adventure on the Njukur for you will not believe how crazy weather we got. The super cooled rain froze immediately when reaching our gear. At the end we had a three centimeters thick ice frosting which weighed at least a few kilograms. Luckily the skiing and climbing equipment worked as they should and we got the job done. Tomorrow we will continue towards east the days goal being over 20 kilometers ahead of us.
The expedition has conquered Hvannadalshnjukur today in super cooled rain and weak visibility, toughened from yesterday’s events. We had a relaxed day at the glacier: reggae was playing and we were skiing in our Hawaii shirts. We have a full day’s work ahead of us tomorrow. We must ski over 20 kilometers if we want to keep up on our schedule. Now it’s sleepy time!
The expedition has accidentally peaked the wrong summit.. Naah I’m just kidding. We couldn’t’ go to Hvannadalshnjukur so as a consolation price we chose the adjacent and easier two kilometer high Snaebreid. The attempt to peak the Njukur failed partly because the approach ski took too long due to the hard wind and thus we did’nt have enough time to climb to the challenging peak, even though the weather was otherwise fine.
We are of course a little disappointed not being able to reach Njukur, but one can’t feel too down after the sceneries we witnessed. Hvannadalshnjukur is a one unbelievably beautiful mountain! The day had other exciting events too as we bumped into a funny Icelandic duo, who later skid to our camp and erected their Saitaris next to our Keron. A probable scenario: multinational tent party.
And what else is up?
Food is too plenty and someone could come and help by eating some. None of the equipment has broken down and everything has worked rather well. General vibe is relaxed. The quality of our chatting is decreasing as we ski on, luckily the blog censors some. The wanted run away from reality has also been achieved: Jouni forgot his bank loans.
All is well with the expedition (and has also been every day, I just don’t remember to write it!)
Grr. Yesterdays blog should have ended: “is ours all the way” (editorial note: because of problems with the Yellowbrick, every message has been lacking a word or two from the middle, and always a few from the end. The English version however has “all the words”, because the translator has tried to guess what they might have meant). It’s annoying to when high-tec doesn’t work as supposed! Yesterday the sun made me so excited that I forgot to write about our plan: the weather forecast predicted yummy for today too so we turned south from Grimms for an approximately 53 kilometer detour towards Hvannadalshnjukur. Yesterday we flew 21 kilometer over the glacier and today we were able to advance the rest in six legs.
Tomorrow we will try to claim one of the journeys objectives and we’ll leave the camp with lightweight bags to peak the highest summit in Iceland. The journey is 24 kilometers back and forth. After tomorrow we’ll have seven days to make the 105 kilometer trip to the east side of the glacier. Sounds doable? Today seemed to defy the laws of physics. It felt like we had a constant uphill but after all the GPS showed that we were at the same altitude in the evening as we were in the morning.
Still the day was in no means a bad one. The carrying snow and the sun pushed us to virtually heroic deeds. Coat open we blazed uphill on such energy that a 3,5km leg was a basic set. Before end of the day we encountered small interesting sastrugis which put our tormented triceps to a test. Someone has asked that how do we fit in our 4,5 square meter tent. Well rather excellently thank you for asking! A square meter each is quite enough lebensraum and intimacy warms 😀
Lots of exciting things has happened since the last post, but because our Yellowbrick isn’t working like it’s supposed and censors arbitrarily parts of the text, we’ll just have to summarise (which is rather boring..). Yesterday during our night chores we heard strange jeep kind of (jeepish?) sounds which we first thought were just the wind. Soon entered six Finnish FINNARP scientists and a couple of Icelandic Arctic Truck workers. A few hours later the breeze brought two Norwegians and an Icelandic guide, whose tent pole had broken while trying to erect the tent. The four day isolation had suddenly turned to a Nordic hulabaloo!
At the morning wind was still blowing 30 m/s and we rescheduled our departure. The FINNARP groups route was partly same as ours and they informed us via radio that the weather further down the glacier was much more skiable. With crampons on we walked on the icy slope alongside our sledges through the worst breeze. After getting on the skis the wind was behind our backs so we dashed forward like never before. Because the days route was downhill only, we even took the ascension skins off. You won’t believe how great it was to ski!
After all the harsh conditions Vatnajökull has finally showed us her gentle side. The glacier shining in the sun is perhaps the most beautiful thing that exists and today it accompanied us all the way.