Another long day at the office, the weather has been relatively kind today after yesterday’s low temperatures, it is probably mid -20s°C today. We pushed on hard today, we sledged for 7.5 hours with 3 breaks and covered 11 statute miles but it was tough going and I was pretty exhausted at the end of it. We have got into a bit of a routine when we finish because, as I said before, you are either hauling your sled or in your tent because of the cold. We put the tent up in under 10 mins then I go in first and drag all my stuff in and lay my sleeping bag out on the sleeping mat and then just lie there for about 20 or 30 minutes to come to again.

11 miles may not seem like a long way but when you’re wearing skis and hauling an 80lb sledge in these extreme conditions it is hard work. Added to which today at times we had quite challenging sastrugi, which is the sculpting made by the wind and the snow, in rows that were up to 3 or 4 feet deep in places, so it is very, very demanding physically. I realise now that without the hard training that I did for the 6 months before my trip, the endless times in the gym, walking the cliff path and all the help that Amanda gave me I would not have survived this far. It isn’t just a physical endurance either it is a mental one aswell. 7.5 hours either leading or following because there is just the 2 of us, myself and Seth, it isn’t practical to be using an I pod during the day because you’re ears are under 3 or 4 layers, you’ve got 3 pairs of mitts on and trying to get to switch anything on or off is just hopeless so we don’t do it. Neither can we really talk to each other because we look like a pair of astronauts, we don’t have any flesh showing and you can hardly hear each other speak.

I am felling a little bit better today. My altitude sickness is certainly easing but my big issue is eating. I have absolutely no appetite whatsoever. We’re probably burning in the region of 5000 to 6000 calories and at this point in time I’m probably eating less than half of that, somewhere between half and a third. However I am drinking a lot which is a very important thing and I have to rehydrate on a very regular basis. The other element that this is hard work with altitude sickness is the thinness of the air; I spend the whole day just gulping in seemingly empty air, craving for oxygen fulfilment which is never really there. All of these things conspire to make it pretty difficult conditions down here. I was musing today as I was dredging along thinking that when I get home and eventually get back to sea level I will be like Red Rum and win the Grand National without a horse!

I confess to having a companion on this trip, he doesn’t say much but he is a useful fellow and he is very faithful, always by my side and that is my shadow. I am not going mad! Let me explain. We navigate to the Pole by following a compass heading, however it is extremely difficult because there are no landmarks, nothing to reference looking ahead as to where you are, and on the odd occasion that I have gone ahead without a compass I think it wouldn’t be very long before I was walking in circles. This is where my shadow, my companion, becomes very helpful. In the morning if I keep his head at about 3 ‘o’ clock I am absolutely on the right track, by lunch time because obviously the sun is going round behind us, his head needs to be dead ahead in the direction of travel and by the end of the day he is my wingman at about 10 ‘o’ clock and it is amazing how accurate that allows me to certainly head to the Pole. There is only one caveat to that and that is the sun has to shine otherwise you’re in big trouble!

2 responses to "Polar Plateau – Day 6 – 10th January 2012"

  1. Penny Bean Hill

    It sounds amazing as in scary ! We are all thinking of you. Good luck.

    7:44 pm - 11/01/2012

  2. Debbie D

    HI Chief, sounds if its all going well, although big time challenge, all fine here , and yes im in charge, so no worries on that front, ( only jocking not really in charge, just pretending,) have an amazing experience and best of luck, from us all at sunny bluestone.x

    9:38 pm - 11/01/2012

New comments are closed.