All the Feels

Day 14: S82° 50' 52", W051° 19' 16" Altitude: 1127m Daily distance: 13MI Distance to go: 881MI

It’s hard to know how to write about today. Lying here in my tent at 8.40pm it feels like I’ve experienced the range of emotions and sensations one might normally go through in several weeks. In the 11 hours I was outside, the weather turned from mild to frighteningly cold and windy, and then back to benign and sunny again this evening. Soon after starting I had to battle through an area of sastrugi that felt more like crossing the fractured pack ice of the Arctic Ocean. At mid-morning the temperature plummeted and the cloud dropped to give me only a few metres of visibility. There are a few cues that tell me when it’s very cold: my face completely ices up from my breathing, the energy bars I eat at breaks become rock hard, and without mittens on (I take them off at each break for 5-10 minutes) my hands start getting worryingly cold. By midday I was fearful that I’d get into trouble at the next break as no matter how hard I skied, I wasn’t warming up after the last stop. Eventually I decided to pause to put on my red Canada Goose gilet (a Hybridge Lite) that I’d normally only wear when I was stationary, and it did the trick, tipping my body temperature back over the line between relative comfort and potential danger.

The next thing Antarctica threw at me, in the mist and fog and whirling blizzard, was a crevasse field, where I was expecting nothing but a safe surface. Thankfully it was a localised area of ice and the deep cracks crossing it were obvious and narrow enough to cross on skis, but most of the thin snow bridges yielded to a hard prod with a ski pole, and the few glimpses I had into these glowing blue abysses really spooked me. Was I lost? Had I made some colossal navigational error?

And then in the late afternoon the sun came out, one of my iPod Shuffles started playing me some brilliant tunes (thank you K, K & D!) and the cloud all but vanished, leaving me with this glorious view of the mountains from my bedroom window.

In the space of a day I’ve gone from at times feeling desperately homesick and afraid to feeling like I wouldn’t swap places with anyone; the master of my own little frozen Kingdom with an evening view of some of the remotest peaks on the planet that only a handful will ever have seen with their own eyes.

Some lists:

Favourite song of the day: Come as You Are, Nirvana

Books I’ve read in my tent so far (on a Kindle app):
Sweet Caress by William Boyd
Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker
(And I’ve just started Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart)

Top five favourite Outdoor Foods Firepot meals so far:
1) Pork noodles
2) Orzo bolognese
3) Chilli
4) Beef stew
5) Mushroom risotto

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
21/11/17
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Comments

DD Kingscote

23/11/2017

It seems a long way away from the calm (mostly) QUANTOCK Hills when you came and gave a talk in the bush camp to some ILM apprentices. Boy , you have a zillion more stories to tell now. Thinking of you with huge respect and positive thoughts. KBO and thank goodness for goose down gilet’s. God speed.

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Kevin Wright

21/11/2017

Hi Ben, thank God for the Canada Goose gilet. We are so fortunate to have this technology today and it makes you realise what those poor polar explorers had to put up with a 100 years ago. As remarkable as those guys were I guess going solo would have been impossible. Keep warm. Kev

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Dee Lovell

21/11/2017

Keep strong and focused Ben .
You are doing an amazing job and we can just sit in awe everyday as we read your posts .
So brave and brilliant .
X

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Peter Holden

21/11/2017

Hi Ben

I’ve been keeping track of your amazing journey. Wow, you’ve had some incredible experiences already. Keep focused and good luck.

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Iron Lords

21/11/2017

What time zone are you in down there?

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Mike Hammond

21/11/2017

Not checked in for a few days, family crisis! But checking your stats today and reading your blog is a reminder of how much of a challenge this must be, both mentally and physically.13 miles a day would be nothing in a “normal environment” but out there it’s a whole new ball game! Sat here, dog at my side in front of a log fire I am totally in awe of what you do. They say life is for living and there’s no denying you’re doing just that!

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Iron Lords

21/11/2017

What NOT to read on your Kindle right now: “The Worst Journey in the World” by Apsley Cherry Garland.

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Whistle Norvell

21/11/2017

Ben, so glad you are having those sunny moments to keep your spirits up during the difficult times. This week I “Bothered to leave the house” for some wilderness backpacking with my son, and thought of you often during our cessation from civilization. Reminded me of the culture-shock that we feel when we live in the wild, that I am sure that you must have waves of. Thank you for your daily updates that many, many of us follow, and best wishes in the coming days for more adventure. You can do it!

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Bev Nichols

21/11/2017

Wow! Such an emotional roller coaster for you Ben!
You are doing amazing!
Keep warm, stay strong, write your fantastic stories of your Ice adventure!
Well done Ben! Incredible to hear this back in England😊
Thanks for sharing! X

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Jason Hay

21/11/2017

“these are the times that try men’s souls”
To paraphrase Thomas Paine, you did not shrink from your duty when it got difficult! Glad you’re keeping your tunes rocking and your mind right! You’ll be at the foot of those mountains before you know it.

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