‘He Who Travels Fastest…’

Day 30: S85° 35' 54", W051° 59' 29" Altitude: 1714m Daily distance: 14MI Distance to go: 688MI

‘…Travels alone.’ I’m pretty sure these are Rudyard Kipling’s words, and I’ve been mulling them over today, wondering if they hold true in Antarctica. With no companion here, I’m constantly forging a trail through soft snow, which is proving pretty tiring. With Tarka on my last Antarctic expedition, I was following his tracks for precisely half the time, and for the other half he was following mine. Slotting your skis into a freshly compressed set of tramlines and not even having to steer was a huge relief every 45 minutes, and a luxury that I’m missing now. It also felt safer pushing hard with a teammate – and we pushed ourselves to hypothermia and near-collapse at one point – whereas I’m being far more conservative with shepherding my energy now I’m solo.

Anyway, not a bad day today. The sastrugi returned with a vengeance at mid-morning but seem to have fizzled out again this evening. I was determined to negotiate the rough bits on my short-skinned skis, which led to a bit of wheelspin at times, although I somehow avoided falling over completely. I tried to photograph one section with my ski poles for scale, and it struck me that the chances of any human being ever seeing that wonderfully sculpted piece of snow and ice again are almost certainly zero, which slightly altered my grumpy perspective on this challenging terrain.

The weather went from too warm (I skied in just my thermal top for about 45 minutes this morning) to really quite chilly as the wind and cloud appeared. It was cold enough to get some quite impressive ice build-up in my beard and moustache from breathing (almost my entire face is covered by a mask, with a small nose/mouth hole for air!) which I quite enjoyed pulling off each time I stopped to eat, pursing my lips and directing jets of warm air to help the defrosting process.

I’ve passed 1,700 vertical metres now, so the air’s getting thinner as I trundle up towards the Antarctic Plateau (2,500m or so) although I’m travelling so slowly that I’m acclimatising well and – so far – haven’t really felt any different.

I’ve also sent a photo back of a vital part of my day: melting snow for my food and drink. By my calculations I’ve consumed roughly 150kg of Antarctic snow so far on this trip…

A quick hello to Geordie and Genevieve, whose lovely note was in my food bag today!

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
07/12/17
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Comments

Kevin Wright

08/12/2017

Hi Ben, the miles are looking good and are really counting down now. It must be tuff without your mate Tarka and going solo. When you feel alone just remember we are all with you in spirit and your friends and love ones are waiting for you to cross that finish line. Hey that’s going to be one heck of a celebration 🎉 I have a very special bottle of whisky just waiting to be opened on that day. Cheers and safe travels. Kev

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Intrepid

07/12/2017

Interestingly, your photo is reminiscent of windswept sand I have so often seen on the beach.

Are your muscles at all sore? Or perhaps as the load lightens your muscles are shouting yay! Another day of food eaten = less weight to pull! BTW, how much weight in technology are you pulling on this expedition? I imagine in the few years since the Scott Expedition with Tarka, some of the technology will have changed. Perhaps smaller, lighter, and does more. Is this true or am I way off the mark, on another continent? LoL

Laying down tracks in single lines
Crossing terrains with a beat of time
Music all around, Music all around

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Craig McLean

07/12/2017

Hey Ben, well done mate – you aren’t missing a think with the weather here in Blighty. The Windsor cake run was heavy rain and wind all day. Got a proper soaking. Well done on smashing through the miles. Stay safe. Loving the blogs

Craig

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Steve Jones

07/12/2017

Hey Ben – loving your daily blog posts. I’m addicted!!
There are a lot of people with you in spirit, keep on pushing. Amazing.

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Beth T.

07/12/2017

So glad to see you have less than 700 Miles to go!! I look forward to your posts each day. I was lucky enough to see you speak on Kiawah Island this past June, and am amazed by this journey!! Keep it up you are doing great!!

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Sharyle Doherty

07/12/2017

I’m enjoying following your journey every day. What is it like having sunlight 24 hours a day for weeks on end? Do you keep to a 24 hour schedule? I think you said you have no problem sleeping at “night” but do you need to set an alarm to wake up?

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Owen Stanley-Brigget

07/12/2017

“He who travels the fastest experiences the least”. Savour the moment, pause and reflect, enjoy the silence and solitude. You are in a timeless environment, be careful not to diminish the experience.

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Lynn Campbell

07/12/2017

14 miles. Get you😀 well done. Isnt that a new recors dor the most milea travelled in a day?

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Andy Lawrence

07/12/2017

That quote is Kipling, from a poem bewailing the burdens of marriage. Just thought you might like to know that Ice Maiden are having a maintenance day and are washing their socks!

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