Antarctica appears to be reading these blog posts and then mocking me. Yesterday I complained of no sunlight, today it gave me so much sun (and so little wind) that overheating was today’s primary concern.
It was cloudy when I woke up, and the uniform light in the tent (rather than obvious sunlight on one of its walls) didn’t fill me with hope. However when I ventured outside with the snow shovel to answer the call of nature, there was a sliver of blue around the horizon. When I started skiing at 8.30am (when I took this photo) the cloud was really starting to disperse, and the temperature began to rise.
The terrain was frustratingly rolling today, like a frozen version of some of the lower bits of the Brecon Beacons, and I gradually shed items of clothing as the day went on, skiing for two surreal hours this afternoon with no gloves, no hat, and just a thermal baselayer top, unzipped as far as it would go. All of the zips on my salopettes (even the flies) were wide open to try to cool down, and for that bit of the afternoon I think I’d have been fine in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
So far, so pleasant, but the upshot of the Mediterranean weather was a rotten surface, with deep, soft, sticky snow that bogged down my progress so much that at points I had to count five or ten paces before stopping to catch my breath. If I pushed too hard on my ski poles, they sank deep into the snow rather than propelling me forwards, and the runners on the sledge became useless as it sank up to its belly in what might as well have been thick mud or quicksand. There may have been one or two swear words as the sun beamed down on my slow-motion toil.
If Antarctica has the capacity to mock, it also seemingly has a knack of rewarding effort, and my prize today was a glorious last hour with a relatively solid surface and enough cloud to turn the thermostat back down to a level where sweat was no longer trickling down my back. I cranked out more than 3km in the last hour, bringing the score today up from depressing to just-about acceptable.
It’s warm in the tent this evening as I type this, and I’ve just fitted a pair of short ‘kicker’ skins to my second set of skis (Åsnes Mountain Race 48) so I’ll give those a whirl tomorrow to see if they help boost my speed a little…