#4: Goodbye to one valley, hello to the next!
We were treated to a slightly warmer night last night (-17), and absolutely stellar conditions today with blue skies and minimal wind.
The nearby mountains however, shaded us from the morning sun and by the time we packed up camp we all had cold fingers and toes. Our first hour of hauling went by quickly as we raced out of the shade to the nearest sunny spot, reaching the -relative- warmth just in time for our first break.
Our horizons changed as we turned out of Sassen valley and entered the broad base of Fulmar valley. This change in direction brought a brand new panorama to feast our eyes on, just as spectacular as the last, as is the nature of this stunning archipelago. It blows our minds to think about how much there is to explore here!
We fit in three hour long sessions before enjoying a sunny lunch break, then continued up the slowly narrowing valley. After two more sessions, it was nearing time to find a campsite. The area we were in however, was very shallow snow, with rocks and solid permafrost beneath, near impossible to pitch our tents on. We pushed on, headed for a nearby frozen lake where we would be able to make anchors with our ice screws. The terrain that followed was trickier to navigate, the valley narrowed slightly and steepened, and the floods and warm temperatures last week had created a slick icy slope.
Favouring small ‘islands’ of snow and roughed up ice on the surface, we navigated the slope without too many slips, slides and falls. Our efforts were rewarded with some beautiful frost flowers at the top of the icy section.
Having coming unstuck on a particularly slick patch before making it onto the snow, Ram and I found ourselves at the back of the group, staring at a steep climb. Feeling the weight of our sleds we hauled up the pinch and were delighted to come over the crest and look down at the team taking off skies and putting on big down jackets, having found a flat area of deep snow perfect for pitching tents, what luck!
We are camped at the base of the Marmor glacier. Hoping to get some views of the East coast tomorrow, fingers crossed our weather luck continues!
1. Heading out of Sassendalen and up into Fulmardalen
2. Looking back down Fulmardalen after crossing the icy slope
3. Close up of the frost flowers