20 January 2012

Mission Accomplished

I am now back in Punta Arenas waiting to go home on Sunday. Michael Archer left this morning for New Zealand. We arrived here late Wednesday. The last part of the expedition was a serious push as we knew there was a jet back to Punta on the Wed. On Jan 15-16, during a 20 hour period we covered 240km. At times we went fast, averaging over 30 kph. At times, slowly if the terrain was rough and the visibility bad. Thanks to our RECON googles with GPS display, I could navigate accurately in any weather. The goggles were amazing and so much fun to use! On the last day we covered 150 km over some of the hardest, iciest terrain. The constant jarring was exhausting. Earlier that day we sailed across an amazing area of soft flat snow, like a huge white endless field. We flew; at times over 40 kph! As we past the Patriot Hills, the wind kept getting stronger and strong. We had to take down the kites and use sails (square kites on short lines that are easier to control in high winds). But even with the sails we were being lifted off the ground, so we tied a cord around each end to make the sail smaller. Still too much. We tied a second set of cords that reduced the sail to less than half its size but it worked. At the brink of the last steep hill down to Hercules Inlet, Michael's kite got away from him and dragged him across ice for 200 meters. Fortunately he was not hurt. The last downhill is 20 km long ... we were so thankful to be done. Within a few hours the Kenn Borek twin otter (the pilot, Monica sometimes flies to Arctic Watch in the summer!) collected us and took us back the ALE camp at Union Glacier. The Russian jet took us back to Punta the next day. To see a short video "click" on the blue link below the second photo! [caption id="attachment_243" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Michael passes Patriot Hill using the "Arctic Watch" sail. "][/caption][caption id="attachment_244" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Michael Archer sailing part Patriot Hills"][/caption] Kite -Skiing II shorter