Forty Days of Food

Day 40: S87° 23' 35", W051° 56' 35" Altitude: 2342m Daily distance: 0MI Distance to go: 563MI

The wind woke me up at 5am, and I knelt up in my sleeping bag like a giant caterpillar and poked my head out of the inner tent to have a look at the weather through the air vent in the tent’s porch. It was a blurry white in every direction, with no horizon and no contrast, and the fizz of spindrift was loud against the tent. I straightened out again and dozed fitfully for an hour or so before deciding to stay put for the day, to have my first proper rest after three weeks of a daily nine hours of exercise, and to hope for better weather tomorrow.

After some brekky and a hot drink, I fell asleep again until 10.45am, a sign that I perhaps needed a bit of R&R. Lying awake in my sleeping bag after my nap, I listened to the sound of the wind and the blowing snow. Each time it quietened down I’d berate myself for being lazy and not getting out of bed to clock up some miles outside like a real man, and each time it picked up again, buffeting the tent as if a gang of old ladies were outside trying to beat the dust out of it with brooms, I’d congratulate myself on my prudent and wise decision making.

My rest day activities have included snoozing, recharging my electronic gadgets, snacking, writing lists and notes, watching Goldfinger again (the only movie I have on my phone) and reading. I’ve finished all the novels on my Kindle app so started Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence today. It’s an extraordinary book on artificial intelligence that is proving mind-blowing in two respects, firstly in that it explores the implications of machine intelligence surpassing human intelligence (‘Probably the last challenge we will ever face’), and secondly in that it does so using terms like ‘Bayesian inference’ and sentences like ‘Without an efficient way to encode candidate solutions (a genetic language that matches latent structure in the target domain), evolutionary search tends to meander endlessly in a vast search space or get stuck at a local optimum’, so I’m having to take lots of breathers while my own modestly performing neural network chews and swallows.

Speaking of chewing, the food bag I fished out of my sledge this afternoon had ’40’ written on the front, which means I’ve now consumed nearly a quarter of a million calories since I was dropped off on 7th November; 64kg or 141lbs of food. This tally includes: 160 Primal Pantry Paleo Bars, 80 Battle Oats Bars, 80 Organic Food Bars, 40 litres of protein shake, 2kg of 70% dark chocolate, 100 litres of Tri-Carb energy drink, 2kg of chocolate brownies, 8kg of Outdoor Food Firepot meals, 8kg of Primroses Kitchen breakfasts, and 2kg of Marmite cashew nuts.

Last up, Lynn asks where Pip and I will honeymoon next year. I have a few ideas, but the main criteria are somewhere where there’s zero risk of frostbite, and somewhere I don’t need a snow shovel to go to the loo (also risking frostbite in the proces). Re the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, I’m not going near it on this expedition I’m afraid. And Sam M, it’s fantastic to hear from you. I never did catch the golf bug!

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

Brenda Rangel

21/12/2017

Hi Ben,
I just suddenly found your blog and I started reading some of your stories, and i just can’t believe how difficult but magical that experience could be. I wish you keep safe and sound until the end of your trip and I hope every morning when you get up the main motivation to accomplish this trip would be your dream honeymoon beside your love in a warm place like Cancún.

All the very very best,
Brenda x

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Tiffany

18/12/2017

We recommend negril Jamaica for a honeymoon at couples negril! Fantastic service, crystal clear blue water and plenty of Caribbean food! Red snapper and lobster galore!

Best wishes to you today!

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Greg Jerome

18/12/2017

Ben

Thank you so much for all the wonderful accounts of your trip thus far. It really is the highlight of my evening, reading your posts each night.

I just went out for my first ski day of the season. It was a brisk -10F here in Central New York State, and I had fun thinking about how we were both skiing at the same time. The joke was on me, of course!

Thank you for sharing this and all of your other adventures. It gives people like me the motivation we need to get out the door and do something!

All the best.

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Kevin Wright

17/12/2017

Hi Ben, good idea to rest and charge your batteries. At the end of the day your health and safety has got to come first especially with all those important plans for next year. I’m sure you will catch up on your mileage once on the top and the final glacier run. I know what you mean about being in your tent with the gang of old ladies out side! It was that moment in the John Mills movie covering Scotts expedition that stuck in my mind as an 8 year old boy and never left me for 50 years and eventually got me to Antarctica and spending a night on the ice! Have a good march tomorrow, Kev

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Tomas

17/12/2017

Ben, I’m following you daily and I wish you the best of luck! We need adventure role models like you! I went to see your lecture in the National Geographic Society in London after your last expedition. I hope I will have the same opportunity this time! Cheers! Tomas

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Stephen Downes

17/12/2017

I’m worried that you won’t have enough food to finish. Would you consider cutting rations, or would you get airlifted out? When do you make the call?

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Lynn Campbell

17/12/2017

Extract from Shackleton’s own account of his 1914 Endurance expedition for you Ben……

When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us. I know that during that long and racking march it seemed to me often that we were 4, not 3. Afterwards Worsley said to me “Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with is”.

I hope you have both your friend Henry and Shackleton on your shoulder for this one.

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Andrew Paterson

17/12/2017

Beautiful Lynn !

Laurence B Jacobs

17/12/2017

Hi Ben

Definitely a smart move to have a rest day – well done!
Can you actually feel the sled is considerably lighter than when you started or has the challenging sastrugi been consuming your focus? Keep on eating the elephant.

Laurence

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Mike Lee

17/12/2017

Well done Ben, I’m sure Henry is looking down on you and wishing you the very best of success, you seem in fine fettle and fully in control. Kindest regards mate

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Andrew Paterson

17/12/2017

Ben,

Your candid accounts of daily life at the ‘bottom’ of the world trump poetry and other creative (artificial) tactics to woo people into the ‘superhuman’ fallacy (ask any Special Forces veteran), the most impressive is your daily humor (but I know you probably curse a lot too, that’s ok), which is what’ll make the difference in the end – being able to look adversity in the face and smile and move move on. (PS* that’s what all the superheroes do)

Onwards & upwards!

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Andrew Pennock

17/12/2017

I have a really inane question, however, here it comes… All that rich food you’re consuming, do you ever get bad heartburn, and do you have a way to get rid of it out there? Love t)he blog, keep going!

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Paul Finch

17/12/2017

How long will you be staying at the Admundsen Scott research station? bring on steak and eggs, change of clothing, a hot shower and maybe a cold beer! so inspired by you, keep up the good progress
Best
Paul

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Perran

17/12/2017

Love your cerebral musings Ben and trust you will make the right decisions to make your goal. On a practical note I’d like to know what you do about oral hygiene given the diet you are on. Tooth problems could be hell in that environment.

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Lars Kristiansen

17/12/2017

Go for it Ben! You’ve got 30 days and you can make it to the base of the Leverett by 16 January for pick-up if you push hard! Try and lift your daily ski hours to 16 hours in a row, and then sleep 4 hours, and then repeat. Leave all unnecessary gear at the South Pole. You’ve got this one chance, you really have to lift and focus on what is important and go for it!! It will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, much harder than so far on this expedition, but you really have to lift the speed and give it everything. Go Ben!

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Lou Rudd

17/12/2017

Lars, he’s well on track without having to do 16 hour days, that’s a bit extreme. Plus he can’t drop gear at the Pole otherwise it’s no longer an unsupported or unassisted journey, which is one of his key aims. Really insightful blogs, keep it up Ben!

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