The Bergans Baikal 2010 Expedition - The Crack

It was a hard day today, the first full day. We had information, that the first third or maybe even half of the lake would not be covered with snow. Unfortunately it is nothing like that and we have to work harder than we hoped we would have to.
24. 2. 2010 Photos: 30

It’s much easier to pull the sled on clean ice as you cannot feel the weight of it - the sleds are gliding easily on ice and it’s like going for a walk. Once we get in the snow, it’s a completely different story. The sleds sink into the snow and it becomes really hard to make them move. It slows us down which we don’t like, of course. We have more than 30 days to finish the crossing but the sooner we’re there the better :-)

I should stop grumbling :-) as it got much better after lunchtime. Even though it was warmer than in the morning, the snow was firmer for some reason (I would rather expect exactly the opposite) and it was then much easier to move on. I was leading a way for most of the day so I had a chance to practice two things. First of them was to walk straight - it may sound silly but it’s really difficult to walk straight on a flat and white open area. You need to find something - piece of ice or a big snowdrift which shape you can remember and then it’s your solid point to which you can orientate yourself. You cannot stare at it all the time as you have to watch your steps so you must be able to recognize it among the other pieces of ice and snowdrifts :-) You also have to watch the surface you’re walking on. And that’s the second thing I practiced today - I didn’t want to go across every bump and hole so I was watching the surface carefully trying to avoid all roughness and also the spots with deep snow. I think I’ll share with you what I’ve learnt today :-) The color is what tells you wether the snow is soft and deep or frozen and solid - the darker it is, the more solid it is. It’s also good to take notice of the shape and structure of the snowdrifts in front of you. It really works except for those strange wavy snowdrifts we saw today - there it was really hard to tell. Sometimes it was soft, sometimes it was frozen and I didn’t figure out why :-)

There was a little adventure by the end of the day. We had to get across the first big crack. We’d seen number of small and narrow cracks during the day but this one was over 90 cm (3 ft) wide at places. What’s interesting is that it was fresh, from the last night most probably, as it turned up that it wasn’t frozen. At first I thought it was OK but being careful I hit it with my pole. It went through it easily and dark water appeared underneath. I was probing the area with a pole for a moment to find out how wide it was and where it ended. When I found the narrowest spot, I stepped over it very carefully. We were happy to have something exciting :-) But it’s a clear sign for us that one is never careful enough!

I waited behind the crack for Vasek who stayed behind taking shots of the sunset. Then we walked for about 30 m (32 yds) more so we don’t sleep right next to the crack and we called it a day. We were getting tired and it was after sunset anyway...and it was getting colder, -28 ºC. I’d better put an extra layer on me tonight. There’s nothing worse than to wake up in the middle of night being cold (except for waking up in the middle of night because you need to go pee-pee :-)

24. 2. 2010

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