RACING THE STORM

DAY 4
END POSITION: 63.38’09.1 N 46 29’35.2 W
ALT: 8213 ft

The forecast wind came at 2am; we ate porridge frantically, packed as quickly as we could and set off northwards, madly trying to outrun the Pittarak (Greenlandic Storm) developing to our south. Lars had advised we’d get better conditions further away from the coast where the term “hurricane’ was used.

After a gruelling day including kiting 50 km upwind and jamming the front downwind leg hard into the ice to make our way upwind over rough terrain… hour after hour… we collapsed, set up a tent and slept for four hours. Marc De Keyser our wind guru from Belgium, picked the next wind shift like a magician and after a dehydrated Thai curry we set off north once more. For the first time I could show Simon the absolute bliss of making miles downwind - Kite up, lines singing and soul alive with the magic of sailing over ice without the incredible smashing of the body we have endured for 4 days now.

Climbing further up the plateau we reached the 8000 foot mark and for the first time encountered real snow. Leaving tracks for the first time I looked back to see Simon’s green kite, silhouetted against the foreboding pittarak developing to our south. The tracks looks so tiny, so insignificant in this vast ice plateau, this extreme wilderness, so pure yet so capable of great harm.
Like scared mice we pushed on well past what our legs felt they could do… I was aware that every mile was a mile further from the centre of the storm. Finally after 164 km we made the call to rest. We set up a storm-ready tent, placed the sleds upwind as a windbreak and are now boiling water ready for bed.


An incredible day of ups and downs, but in all in all, I felt for the first time I was able to show Simon the absolute joy of being the only man, the only men for a vast distance around - celebrating our wonderful earth and all of its created finery, being pulled along by canvas and string. The absolute starkness of Greenland’s ice plateau is like a cleansing of the mind. No colour, no sound, bar the wind and no feature or form. It forces you to re evaluate all you believe, all you love and all you stand for. All these thoughts skim through your mind as you try to ignore the bitter pains and bleating of your limbs, face and feet. In the steps of Fridtjof Nansen we press northwards. We’ll soon cross his tracks.

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