Chill out day at Grimsvötn. Weather forecast predicted 30 m/s winds so skiing didn’t sound like fun. We started the day with Dooley’s hot chocolate and crêpes flambéed in cognac. After the bloat had faded away we took our crampons for a little spin close to our quarters. The wind was strong, for a moment we thought it’s going to grip the smaller members of our expedition and carry them all the way to Hvannadalshnukur. Luckily the volcanic boulders kept us on our grounds.
Because idling is so tough we’ve ate all day for the pure joy of eating and took a good nap too. As day turned to night the winds increased even more. For the toilet trip one had to wear a storm mask and go on all fours, even a pick-axe was considered. If the weather wont calm for tomorrow we’ll probably have to spend another day indoors, though everyone is eager to continue as soon as possible.
Last night it finally came: below zero temperatures! After days of sleet and rain the frost turned our skis faster than ever. In addition all of our gear went to deep froze. We got our stiff Gore-Tex harness on and had to dig our tent for quite some time to detach it from the steel snow. Violent wind and whiteout aside, we had a lovely day of skiing.
We haven’t yet been able to enjoy the lovely sceneries, but the sun shone a couple of minutes for us today. It made us happy. We reached the Grimsvötn at early evening. First task was to dug open the entrance of the cabin which is erected on top of a icy hill and warm up the sauna. We blew our wet gear to dry all over this cozy residence and are now settled in. Next up is sauna and crêpes.
All is well with the expedition.
We should save the battery of the yellowbrick, so the messages will probably get shorter or at least their quality will worsen (like it could be any worse). Today we got to the skis right in the morning. The weather was all right at first, but turned poor pretty fast. The day was even whiter, colder and wetter then yesterday. We skied three 1,5 hour legs and advanced 11,5 kilometers. The conditions considered (approx. 20 m/s headwind), we are most pleased.
The glacier has gave us an exquisitely hostile welcome. We are starting to like Iceland more and more every passing moment, because we are Finnish and enjoy misery, agony and coldness. There is 19 kilometers between us and the Grimsvötn’s cabin and if the weather allows, we will try to make it tomorrow. In between is also the trips first crevasses, but they should be easily crossable. Thank you all for the greetings! It’s nice to know that your spirit is here with us.
The wind and the rain went on all night. There was no visible change in the morning, so we slept 12 hours straight. In the afternoon we noticed that the time to cease the moment had came and packed up the camp. Like yesterday, the girls had the dubious privilege to take the lead, as the older members of our expedition followed like loyal hounds, shouting directions every now and then. It’s like the J.J. Heikka’s version of North Korean order at the Vatnajökull glacier.
The day was spent in whiteout and rain. The expedition learned the true essence of being wet. There was no dry spot on us to be found and the sledges had a happy puddle of water in them. Could someone please send us a ton of Silica gel? We still skied three legs and are in schedule.
To add any reasonable words to this message, I’d like to quote the great explorer Ernest Shackleton: "Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all." And that we shall do.
The packing took quite a while and it wasn’t until the small hours before we hit the hay. But the sleep was deep and when our driver Helgi in his cute little car (read: fierce off-roader) arrived to pick us up, we felt well rested. The road we took in our Super-Jeep was wide and plain at the beginning, but got narrower every passing kilometer as we closed on to the target. One could call it the true downshifting, as the top speed was around 60 km/h. Before the last 65 kilometer leg there was a sign declaring "impassable". Our driver shouted a loud guffaw whilst hitting the pedal to the medal as we advanced further towards the glacier, on a road that had turned to a mixture of snow and rock boulders.
The ride took us right next to the Vatnajökull glacier. Sun was shining as the funky wind put a smile upon our faces – outdoor life at its best. We should have guessed that this kind of light thoughts won’t go unpunished: a few legs of steep rise in a downpour and constantly hardening wind sure cleared our heads! As we were pitching the tent the wind speeds were already over 20 m/s and getting the job done was its own kind of sumo wrestling. The morning will tell if we’ll just have to sit tight for a day or so.