We will be covering 20km of glacier skiing and 20km on foot. Navigation will be tricky at times as there are crevasses all along the way, even on the mountain ridges and plateaus.
We use 4-foot bamboo gardening wands along much of the route to mark safe passage and flag dangerous crevasses. They help us find our way back home and eliminate the need to re-probe the route on return. In an unplanned white-out, they become our lifeline back to the safety of the tent. We also tape two wands together to form longer markers for finding camps and caches that hold life-saving supplies.
We call the wands our friends – all 135 of them :) On a psychological front, they are motivational beacons, they keep us moving forward. On the way up, for every hundred strides, we place a wand; gives us a distraction when some sections start to feel like a trudge. On the way back, the “friends” provide a welcome dose of reassurance that all is on track and we are heading home.
We place two little flags on our wands: one with 3M reflective tape the other with black duct tape. In low light, black shows up best against the white snowy background. Reflective tape is vital for spotting the wands at night when we flash a headlamp in their direction. The reflective ones are reserved for camps, caches, and critical areas.
We will also have a Garmin GPS, paper maps, aerial photos & a compass!