Day 8 – Nansen’s Cross

Altitude: 7652ft
Mileage: 28km
Position: 65º20’11”N, 46º24’11”W

Managing resources.

In our race northwards thus far we have had all manner of Greenland’s tough conditions thrown at us. The terrain has been challenging, the wind not playing at all thus far and it’s been hard to see the grandeur of where we are as we have been so head-down-bum-up fighting the environment. Today something clicked, as it did in Antarctica, I went from resenting the harshness of the place to actually seeing the beauty of Greenland’s Polar wastes for what they are – an exceptional place. As I crawled out of my frosted sleeping bag this morning at the crack of three am, it was – 15 C outside but for the first time in many days I could see the horizon. Vast plains of ice, with wisps of fog and cloud moving across towards our tent, backlit by an amber moon. Breathtaking.

The wind was light and forecast to pick up tonight – so we used the big kites until the sun melted the top layer of the deep snow and the sleds buried in, making the drag pressure so great that we struggled to make way in the light airs. Making 28 km we set camp and made much-needed repairs.

The crossing of Greenland is like a mad game of chess. There are three major resources and they all need to be managed absolutely finitely to have any hope of success.

No 1. One’s own body, if you don’t push you don’t get anywhere and you definitely don’t set records. If you push too hard it’s like blowing an engine, rev 6000 for too long and the no 1 resource gives out. I hadn’t felt at full strength for a few days and started to develop a nasty chest infection yesterday. A day in bed off work is not an option here so in true Vet style I self medicated and started an antibiotic course. Despite sounding a little rough, I am much better today.

Our second most valuable resource is fuel. We need the fuel to melt ice for water, for cooking and for drying of clothes. Without the fuel the journey is not possible. Too much fuel and the sled is too heavy, too little and you don t make it. Simon had a fuel bottle lose 1.5 litres of fuel on day 3. Which has meant we must now be very careful with our fuel stocks. All ok, but once again a tightly managed resource.
Caption: "A wayward ice axe got free in the sled, bouncing madly and punched a hole in the hull - urgently needing repair - the axe is now gaffer taped and secured properly needless to say!"

Our No 3 managed resource is our food. In order to “Burn the Bridges” we elected to carry only 35 days food. This assured that we would push hard and do the journey in good time. However with the struggles at the start and relatively low mileages, we are now watching this resource carefully. All 3 in balance, and playing the game of chess well – pushing when its time to push and recovering when its time to recover, can make your head spin at times. At the minute resources are tight, but some freedom from the storm (we use more fuel in storms as you are tent bound for so long), good visibility, good wind and good mileage and the chess game will swing back in our favour.

The best bit of today is however that - like seeing the true beauty of your love for the first time -Greenland’s majesty stuck her head out of the storm this morning and I now know one of the keys to making a journey like this has just occurred. Today a love for the environment itself in all its wonder birthed in me.

**Dont forget to donate to the cause the boys are so passionate about. Support the fight agains breast cancer here **

*Images coming out of Greenland are low res due to the use of satellite phone data*

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