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Well, we have had two toasts since my last entry, and the weather has prolonged our residency here in the Ohio Range – confined mainly to our tents. Besides brief, torturous episodes of calm, the world has been reduced to a world of intense, blowing snow. Our days have been spent reading, writing, and trying to stay warm as the temperature in the tents has dropped to –12 degrees C, and the temperature outside to –40 degrees C incorporating the intense windchill factor. We have had continual 30 knot winds blowing the loose snow from Mount Schopf to our obscure our visibility to just a few meters, and to bury our tents and supplies in deep drifts. The one positive aspect to my tent being completely drifted in, is that it stays a bit warmer that way.
Though the weather has been poor, spirits have been high, which could be difficult in this mode of perpetual hunkering down and waiting. I feel sluggish, as my only exercise is to shovel the snow drifts from around our boxes and the entrance to the cook tent. This is a pointless exercise as well, since the giant drifts reform almost immediately.
An interesting pastime, other than reading, writing, and eating, has been to bundle up, venture outside, and watch the ‘snow-dunes’ migrate with the wind… It is fascinating, as huge ripple formations and dunes can be seen marching across the visible landscape like waves in the ocean.
My reading has involved finishing up Amundsen’s account of his journey to the South Pole, which is a remarkable tale. In reading the account, I can only be proud of my Norwegian heritage, and can only hope that some of his abilities in the art of planning and logic have been infused somewhere in me. Of course it is not all peaches and green, as I wouldn’t have wanted to be a dog on the journey with a one-in-ten chance of survival, but for the time it was certainly remarkable. To read his descriptions of the southern Transantarctic Mountains, and compare with real-time observation, carries with it an amazing feeling. To imagine that such a short time ago these ancient mountains were finally first viewed by humans! What a way we’ve come since then! Now even I can be dropped off in a place that one hundred years ago was just a mystery of desolation, death, and despair – with no hint of what amazing features adorn the interior of the continent. Now this place is our pristine environmental laboratory, showing us the present process, which according to James Hutton is the key to the past, which will unlock the door to the future.
So it is another day of delay. The weather is clearing up a bit now, however, and one can see glimpses of Mount Schopf between gusts of snowy wind. We are hoping that by tomorrow we can make our exodus, as I am getting the sense that Peter and Robert have had enough. You know you are in trouble when the bacon, paper towels, and whiskey have been depleted! Uh oh! SOS! SOS!