Lots of exciting things has happened since the last post, but because our Yellowbrick isn’t working like it’s supposed and censors arbitrarily parts of the text, we’ll just have to summarise (which is rather boring..). Yesterday during our night chores we heard strange jeep kind of (jeepish?) sounds which we first thought were just the wind. Soon entered six Finnish FINNARP scientists and a couple of Icelandic Arctic Truck workers. A few hours later the breeze brought two Norwegians and an Icelandic guide, whose tent pole had broken while trying to erect the tent. The four day isolation had suddenly turned to a Nordic hulabaloo!
At the morning wind was still blowing 30 m/s and we rescheduled our departure. The FINNARP groups route was partly same as ours and they informed us via radio that the weather further down the glacier was much more skiable. With crampons on we walked on the icy slope alongside our sledges through the worst breeze. After getting on the skis the wind was behind our backs so we dashed forward like never before. Because the days route was downhill only, we even took the ascension skins off. You won’t believe how great it was to ski!
After all the harsh conditions Vatnajökull has finally showed us her gentle side. The glacier shining in the sun is perhaps the most beautiful thing that exists and today it accompanied us all the way.
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.