Blue Sky Day

Day 49: S89° 22' 43", W051° 44' 37" Altitude: 2776m Daily distance: 14.4MI Distance to go: 426MI

My Christmas day started (once I’d made my breakfast and hot drinks for the day) with a satellite phone interview with BBC Breakfast. I was on hold for a few minutes before the piece and caught the end of the weather forecast (conditions in Scotland and the north of England sounded less pleasant than here) and a nice story about Euston station serving Christmas lunches to more than 200 homeless people today. They interviewed Pip first (she called in via Skype so viewers saw her but I only heard her voice on a crackly line) and she became quite emotional after the last question. Then it was my turn, and despite a pang of guilt for putting Pip through all of this I tried to sound upbeat and cheery and festive. I think it went well.

A few minutes later, my beard got stuck in my zip as I donned my final Canada Goose layers to leave the tent, which was a first for me. It struck me – as I teased hairs out of plastic teeth – as quite a Christmassy problem to have; the sort of thing Santa must deal with regularly.

The forecast today was for fog and low cloud, but the weather could not have been more glorious. And for the first hour or so the surface was wonderfully flat too, until acres of minature sastrugi started popping up. The sunshine was the best Christmas present I could have hoped for today (except perhaps for a pop-up Italian restaurant at 89 degrees south) and the light was very special indeed. Someone left a comment a few days ago asking if I’d seen something Shackleton observed, ‘snowflakes yet that are finer and more like strands of hair’, and I think today I realised what both the commenter and the Boss himself were writing about, as the wind carried tiny ice particles through the air at speed, glinting and sparkling as they caught the sunlight. If I looked directly up at the sky, they occasionally appeared to be long, fine strands, but I’m almost certain this was an optical illusion. Either way, it was stunning; something I’ve never seen anywhere else on the planet, and it went some way to compensate for the effort and suffering it’s taken to get this far south.

Thank you for so many lovely Christmas messages – Pip emailed me many of your comments, and some of the familiar names in her message I haven’t heard from in two or three decades, so I’m glad you’re following on, and I hope you’ve all had a warmer and less laborious day than me today.

Lastly, the very best of luck to Kate in holding on to the Queen Mother trophy(!) and thank you to Belinda for your wonderful note in today’s food bag. It brought a lump to my throat, and I’m sending love and hugs to everyone at Manor House!

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
26/12/17
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Comments

Kevin Wright

26/12/2017

Hi Ben and Pip, whoops forgot to say it was great to hear from you both on the BBC yesterday. Great interview and you sounded in good spirits Ben. Also well done to you Pip. Ive always found in life that it’s always harder for the one left at home! Youre a great team. God bless you both. Kev

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Kevin Wright

26/12/2017

Hi Ben, forgot to say yesterday with all the Christmas cheer congratulations on reaching 89 degrees! However am I correct in thinking that within the last degree of the Pole you can no longer leave poo,s in the ice and therefore for the next few days you will have to carry them until you are back at 89? Saw something about this on the ice maidens blog!
So pleased you had some sun today and I love the photo which does show some of those tiny ice particles. Here’s to a another good day tomorrow. Cheers Kev

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Peter Blenk

26/12/2017

Ben,

I’ve been following you with great interest and gratitude that it’s you and not me on the frozen wastes. Your fortitude and good cheer are an example to us all. Peter

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Mal Owen

26/12/2017

Hi Ben,
Thanks for your cheery updates. Pleased to hear about glorious days…and good progress.
We’re forecast more of the white stuff here in UK tonight… no sastrugi though. Unfortunately I missed your BBC interview and it’s not on iplayer now…. anyone know anywhere I can catch-up on it ??
Seasons greetings and best wishes for continuing rewards for your effort.
Mal

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John Sabine

26/12/2017

I hope you have good weather conditions ben for the rest of ure epic journey what ure doing is ablotuley amazing . U r a inspiring 21st century xplorer my heart is with you !!!!!!!

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Robbie Britton

26/12/2017

Hey Ben,

Keep up the awesome and inspiring work.Hope you had a great Xmas and the New Year brings blue skies and good going.

Easy now,

Robbie

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Richard Prangle

26/12/2017

Hi Ben

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy Boxing Day to you from us Prangles. It was lovely to hear you on Breakfast and you are correct, it did go well, and
Pip was great too :0)

Sending all our best wishes, and looking forward to hearing news of you reaching the pole in the next few days.

Love from Richard, Lisa, Helen and Olivia

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Glynn May

26/12/2017

Hi Ben,
It was great to hear you on BBC interview with such a positive cheery voice and over half way now. Keep up the morale and the journey will soon be over. Merry Xmas to you and the family. God Bless.

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Angie Tibben

26/12/2017

Wishing you all the best for the rest of your journey Ben. On my quick calculation you are 57% of the way there now, with the easiest section to follow. Enjoy the beautiful site of the south pole base shortly, it must be delightful to see that in the distance and come ever closer, and then its all downhill to the deep blue sea.

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South Dakota fan

26/12/2017

Another excellent post. BTW: It’s a balmy -10F (-23C) -31F windchill in central South Dakota & -26F ambient 150 miles north of me. And, zero snow (about as unusual as Portland, OR white Christmas). In solidarity I commit to riding my fatbike for 6 miles, or about 1h today, while you slide & glide ever southward.

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Susan and Viki

26/12/2017

Hi Ben, we are all thinking of you and wishing you a very Happy Christmas. We are also completely in awe of you and your achievements. Long may the sunshine lead the way for you.

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grace

26/12/2017

hi ben ,
Merry Christmas and happy new year

are you enjoying it ?love grace xx

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Dave Vero

26/12/2017

Happy Christmas and New Year to you. Fingers crossed for the rest of your amazing trip.

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