We the first traverse team at the new campsite awoke to ~25 mph winds, which threatened to derail our flying traverse plans. A new plan was hatched that involves using both the Basler and a Twin Otter to ferry cargo and people to our new campsite. The winds are too strong and the visibility too poor for our friends to attempt a skidoo traverse like we did yesterday. Jim was a champ and took a turn on the groomer despite the uncomfortable conditions, which have gotten progressively worse over the morning. At 10 am I measured a wind speed of 30 mph and a temperature of -7 degrees F, our coldest daytime temperature yet. Despite the difficult environment, our Twin Otter pilot Henry managed to set down our first load of cargo in what can only be described in a totally badass landing. I was outside moving camp gear around when I saw the Otter make its observation pass, and I was sure they would bail. As the Otter faced into the wind, it had an effective ground speed of 0 mph. Then Henry levitated the Otter down to the ground in what appeared to be a very gentle landing. Awesome! This works because the only speed that matters to a plane is the air movement over the airfoil (wings), so in a strong wind a plane can be flying with a high airspeed but have little to no groundspeed (or negative groundspeed, always fun to see). The pilot needs to coordinate the airspeed with the groundspeed to have a good landing, which is a tricky thing in these conditions. But not for Henry, clearly–well done, sir! And as I’m typing this I just heard the Basler landing, too–I didn’t see it but I’m sure Kaizer and Will did a similarly badass job of getting their plane down. Good show from our pilots all around! Wow, the Basler folks must have unloaded the cargo super duper fast. Now they’re about to take off again for Iggy Ridge. Will the full traverse be completed today? Will we be reunited with our friends? Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion later today!
–Posted by Nina in the frosty, windswept south Miller Range, 29 December 2015