500km in the Bag

Day 28: S85° 11' 49", W052° 00' 34" Altitude: 1593m Daily distance: 12.5MI Distance to go: 716MI

Well, 505 to be exact, and that’s a straight-line distance from my drop-off point on Berkner Island last month, so I’ll have skied a bit further in reality.

For a change, the weather was great today. Mostly blue skies with a bit of cloud, and pretty bloomin’ chilly with the wind hard at work, up until about 5pm when it calmed down again. The windchill is really quite something when it gets going, and can feel quite threatening, a bit like working in a factory where some corrosive liquid is being sprayed around and you have to have protective clothing from head to toe; where a bare hand exposed for a few minutes would suffer irreversible damage. It’s strangely satisfying being able – with the right clothing and gear – to carry on travelling through conditions like that, although stopping to rest and eat and drink takes a little more discipline and organisation.

One minor victory today, and one minor defeat. The downer is that the offline Spotify songs on my smartphone no longer play as I’ve been disconnected from the internet for more than a month, so I’m stuck with the music on my little iPod Shuffles. The bonus was discovering – in the bottom of my repair kit bag – a little stash of caffeine pills. I took a handful with me on my last expedition and shared them with Tarka, and they were so potent (I don’t have tea or coffee in my rations so have had no caffeine since early November) that we ended up trading them like a precious currency. I only have a dozen here now, but I took one with one of my afternoon breaks today to celebrate finding them, and it was like my brain and my legs shifted up a gear, at least for an hour and a half, before the effect wore off.

I’ve been bashing through sastrugi again all day, and the novelty of this terrain (the ridges run across my route, with the prevailing wind, so I’m always going against the grain) is definitely wearing off. Oh for some slightly easier miles soon!

P.S. I forgot to take any photos today, so here’s the view out of my kitchen window. This is the first view of the day’s weather I get each morning, and as you can see it’s a blue sky evening here…

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
05/12/17
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Comments

Paul Finch

08/12/2017

Hi Ben, its 13.43 in West Sussex, bright blue sky and +2. I am trying to visualise what it’s like for you with those incredible temperatures and wind. Just so full of admiration for you and your goal. Love your blog, just finished reading Ralph Feinnes adventures in Antartica. it gives some insight about what it is like. Keep your spirits high, so many people behind you.

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McDowell Crook

05/12/2017

Way to go, Ben!

My nine-year-old son Connor and I have been following you for a while and last night he told me he thinks you are a “real superhero.” He asked if we could send you a “piece of candy or something in the mail” and became disappointed as I began explaining the logistical difficulties involved. Until we figure out a way to send you some sweets, please accept our greatest wishes for your success.

That that is is!

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Brian & Mike

05/12/2017

Dear Ben,
Cheers from Brian and Mike from Chicago!! It’s been awesome following your progress on this amazing trek.
We would join you for another cycling adventure in a heartbeat, but for this we are happy to participate from a distance — we are with you in spirit the whole way!
Did you happen to pack any ‘Johnny cakes’ for your journey?!!
Keep up the great work! Sending our best for your health, weather, safety, etc…

xo
Brian and Mike

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Kevin Wright

05/12/2017

Hi Ben, great view from your kitchen window, at least it’s bright and sunny ☀️! It was very dark here and still dark when I arrived at work. I think I could swap my view for yours but only after you’ve finished the walk! I have a question will the sastrugi stop once on the plateau or could it continue all the way? Here’s to another great weather day tomorrow and a safe onward journey. Straight lines, Kev

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Year 4 Children, Jericho Primary School

05/12/2017

Hi there, The children are all amazed by your efforts and have been inspired to do some fantastic writing about Antarctica. We have got some questions we would like you to answer if possible?
Q. Which songs make you move faster? What’s on your ipod?
Q. If you are wearing big gloves, how do you pick up something if you drop it?
Q. What’s been the toughest part so far?
Q. How many pairs of socks do you wear?
Q. Have you come across any equipment or signs of other explorers on your travels, including your friend?
Q. What are you looking forward to doing the most once completed?

Keep going you are fabulous!

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Zoe

05/12/2017

Hi Ben. I was wondering if there is anything to be afraid of out there? There are no murderers or risks of a terrorist attack, or other horrible human things that bring fear. I guess you may be afraid of getting cold and dying, but you have all the correct gear to prevent that. Just curious if you experience any fear on this journey. In the meantime, keep on, keeping on! You’re doing amazing.

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Mr Elliott Great Crosby Catholic Primary School

05/12/2017

Class 6E from Great Crosby here, Ben. We are fascinated with your every move and you have been inspired from your treacherous journey so far. We have a few questions.

How do you charge you electronic devices?
How can you upload images if you have been disconnected to the internet?
How grueling was you training regime before undertaking the adventure?
How does it feel to be one of the only people on the continent of Antarctica?

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Mike Hammond

05/12/2017

Mr Blue Sky by ELO, sprung to mind when I saw this photo. Shame about the music expiring on your phone, thank God for the iPod shuffles! It could’ve been much worse having nothing at all to take your mind off the howling wind. Great progess passing 500k in what seems like no time at all and hopefully the terrain will be kind to you soon and give you a break from the sastrugi! Keep going Ben, we’re all willing you on to succeed!

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Lynn Campbell

05/12/2017

Apparrently polar explorers of by-gone days uaed to name their sledges. Have you given yours a name?

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