There was no warm, benevolent force looking out for me today, alas. Instead I’ve had ten hours outside tussling with Antarctica in a foul mood: complete whiteout all day and a strong wind that took every opportunity to spit snow in my face, or to try to snatch my possessions away from me when I dropped my guard. Putting up or taking down my trusty Hilleberg tent is nerve-wracking in this sort of wind, and letting go at the wrong moment could spell disaster. Conversely, pitching it well and clambering inside after a hard day feels like a bit of a victory over the all-powerful elements (one of the bonuses of being solo is you can do fist-pumps and shout ‘YES’ or even ‘YEAH BABY’ as often as you like, and no one will think you’re odd).
Whiteouts are peculiar things. Someone (Fiennes?) once said it was like being trapped inside a ping-pong ball. Today’s was at times oppressive – like being an ant stuck in a giant white plastic bag – and at times surreal, looking down at my skis and not being certain they were planted on anything at all, as the sky and the ground were identical, with no delineation between the two.
Mostly though, today was very hard. Like being stuck on one of those elliptical trainer machines in a gym, turned up as hard as it will go, so that each churning stride and arm-swing takes a good three or four seconds, and looking at a blank piece of white paper for eight hours or so. It’s hardly surprising it’s not busier down here.
There was nothing at all to photograph today, so this is a grumpy selfie, sat on my sledge for one of my six breaks.
I know there are lots of schools following along, and I wanted to quickly say hello from Antarctica to:
Mr Blake and Class 8C in Malaysia
The Tigers and the Lions Classes in Epsom, Surrey
King’s Ely Geographers
Class 3 at Beer Primary