Day 48 - An epic last day
on Tuesday, 26 January 2016
What an epic last day! We woke at 5am knowing that with good winds we could cover the last 109nm and maybe be back in Union Glacier for dinner. The day started well with 12knots winds and soft snow. The wind steadily increased and the ground became sastrugi again, but we were knocking off the miles. First we saw the Pirrit Hills, then the Independance Mountains came into view. It was amazing scenery and great to see them getting bigger, but this meant for more disturbed ice.
We had a "safe corridor" in which to kite but we did end up coming over one hill and kiting across some massive crevasses which luckily had snow bridges! They were over 10m wide, about 500m long and probably as deep and the first we new of then we had already crossed! Being on kites meant we probably didn't put much weight on them and travelled across quickly. After that we kept a better lookout.
There was quite a lot of descent today as we dropped down to the coast but this meant for really variable winds. We had to change down to the skisail as winds got up to 30knots, but then an hour later had dropped enough for the 11m. We were tired but confident of reaching our goal and at 2040 made our sked call to say we were 14nm and only 2 hours away. The last part is one big hill and goes between some nunataks. The wind was so up and down and with only 5 miles to go it disappeared! It was actually bouncing over us creating a 1 mile hole which we were in. After another kite change, back to the 14m and painfully working the kites for 2hours we made it through. By now it was past midnight and we realised the plane would now not come get us until morning. We still had the final steep descent to the inlet, which we did on tired legs and weary minds. At the bottom we were on the best snow yet and had a great kite along the inlet to where our pickup point would be. As we got closer there was something shining and I realised it was a plane! Possibly the greater sight ever!
We kited right up to it pulling our safety's and dropping our kites for the last time. We had been kiting for 18hours but had made it! South Pole to Hercules inlet, 600nm in 9days and 9hours! We arrived back at UG at 3am to a hot meal and celebratory whisky. Job done and quite the adventure.
Stew loves adventure! He’s already proven himself in some of the world’s toughest environments by sailing across the Atlantic Ocean & climbing to the top of Mount...