Expedition Day 24 – One wild night

Woke up at about 0100 to shrieking wind and the tent flapping. Better check the guys. I was almost pushed over by the freezing wind when I finally got out. All the tents were still standing, but leaning over alarmingly. We had built up walls of flat stones around the tent bases as wind breaks when we set up camp, just in case of eventualities like this. I walked around and checked them, together with the tent lines before creeping back inside to bury myself in the sleeping bag. All OK so far.

0400 – woke up with the tent lying flat against my head and shoulder. Sounds like we have a howling sand storm outside. I open up the flap to find a pile of snow blown in under the edge of the tent, which has also been torn by the wind. My boots are buried too.

Lasse calls out to each of us to see if we are OK. He has braved the storm to secure the tent lines. The snow is piling against the stones and tent base to increase the size of the wind break so there is no danger of me “taking off” but the gale is getting stronger. Lasse quickly took cover in his tent again. All we can do is wait and listen out for each other.

0700 – the wind has finally dropped a bit but it is getting darker and darker inside my tent as I am slowly buried in snow. We have been doing rounds delivering food and water to each other but the storm shows little sign of stopping.

1000 – just a periodic wind and steady fall of snow now. I am wondering how I am going to dig myself out.

1300 – still snowing. All we can do is wait. Nice and warm in the sleeping bag, and I am getting through my book. Not much else to do but wait.

1800 – yes, it is still snowing. It is too dark to read so I might as well try and sleep. I have been awake since 0400. At least the wind has dropped.

0800 – silence. It is brighter but the tent is really moist from all the snow piled around it. I can hear Lasse and Henning talking. Better get out and see what has happened.

I pushed through the show drift an emerged into a new world of white. We have lost our “lounge room” tent. The aluminium tent poles snapped like twigs in the wind so it has collapsed. The snow is the only thing that stopped it from being blown away. One of our metal boxes has also been destroyed and there are tools everywhere under the snow.

We Jerry rigged the lounge tent with some spare poles and lines so that we have somewhere to eat, but otherwise we are all remarkably unscathed.

Not keen on another 36 hours under snow so we called in to the helicopter pilot on the satellite phone for an update on the weather as well as an escape plan. He cannot get us out for another day but the forecast is clear.

We would start packing everything tomorrow so that we could be ready to fly out at a moment’s notice!

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