It has been a good day for several reasons. We have just travelled another 11 miles – the average for the past 3 days. What is also great about this day in particular is that we have just passed the half-way marker for the total distance we have had to travel to the South Pole. Mentally this has had a very positive impact on me. Whilst psychologically it is now downhill all the way,  physically it is a gentle uphill all the way to the South Pole. There is a noticeable drop in the temperature as we are heading northwards. It must have snowed quite heavily in the night and this morning our tent was nearly buried in the white stuff. Sometimes a snowfall will increase the temperature but it makes it much more difficult to drag a sledge through fresh snowfalls. The cold is frankly startling.

We are managing the breaks during the days much better. I now know where everything is in my sledge. We stop, put another layer of clothing on, I hide my goggles under 3 layers to stop them freezing, quickly have something to eat and drink and then reverse the process and move off as quickly possible. If one of us is ready before the other they start off slowly – you simply cannot afford to stand around in the exceptionally low temperatures.

Interestingly as I dictate this at 8pm it is -30˚ C outside but inside my tent the temperature has reached the dizzying heights of 10˚ C – positively balmy! The tent is made of a red fabric – the best colour for allowing the radiation from the sun to heat up the interior of our tiny living space. It seems incredible to me that a mere 1mm of fabric accounts for a difference in temperature of 40 degrees.

As I move closer towards the South Pole during the long sledging periods I am increasingly in awe of Scott and his team. Scott, Bowers, Oates, Evans and Wilson were heading to the Pole on virtually the same path, same day and same time as I am travelling 100 years later. During our stay at Union Glacier there were extracts from Scott’s diary being put up for us to look at from which I could see that they were also at this stage of the their expedition travelling 11 miles a day. Almost identical to our pace.

Of course when we eventually arrive at the South Pole we know the Antarctic Station will be there along with quite a lot of people and for Seth and myself a flight out. For those guys there would have been nothing except ‘the great white’ and Admundsen’s flag – which had been planted there three weeks before Scott finally arrived at his goal. It must have been bitterly disappointing for all of them. As we know they all perished on the return journey and at least I now have some first hand experience of what they faced 100 years ago. Today, almost exactly a century later, I have modern clothing, satellite communications and special high-protein foods. Their lives, at the end, must have been simply indescribable. I hope sincerely to be able to pay my respects to those incredibly brave and determined gentlemen when I reach the South Pole on the 17th of January.

6 responses to "Polar Plateau – Day 8 – 12th January 2012"

  1. A great post William. For a contemporary view (apart from Scott’s own diaries) I recommend ‘ The Worst Journey in the World’ by originally published in 1922 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard a survivor of Scott’s expedition. It hs been continuously in print ever since earningwide praise for its treatment of the difficulties of the expedition, the causes of thde disastrous outcome and the meaning of human suffering under extreme conditions. Garrard never really recovered from the experience.

    5:56 pm - 13/01/2012

  2. Dave and Nia

    Well done ,you seem in really good form,we had a frosty night last night and only had to sneak a little under the duvet! Brill blog by the way DAVE

    9:53 am - 14/01/2012

  3. Lewis & Fran

    +30C here in Singapore! Well done for hitting half way. We are both thinking of you as we lounge by the pool! If you keep progressing at this rate I will barely be back in NZ before I have to write you a cheque! How’s the camera performing? Good luck for the second half.

    11:51 am - 14/01/2012

  4. Mark Lyttleton-Frances

    You’re doing great William. All of us at The BodyHoliday are watching your progress and wish you all the very best for a successful expedition. We are in shock at the temperatures!! We’re in the middle of winter and the coldest it’s been is 24 degrees C. Keep at it!! Quite remarkable.

    4:16 pm - 14/01/2012

  5. Sian and John

    Hello William (and Wilson), So pleased that you have got such a loyal companion! Your blog is brilliant, we just can’t imagine doing the slog that you are going through. Tremendous that you have now passed the half-way mark; hope the rest of the journey goes well for you and you raise your target for teenage cancer. Look forward to hearing all about it when you get back. Lots of love and good luck with the rest of the expedition.

    4:46 pm - 14/01/2012

  6. Helen and Peter

    Amazing that we were able to speak to you last night (Saturday). The line was so clear and you sounded very bright and positive. Hope today has gone well! and the sun shone!

    6:01 pm - 15/01/2012

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