Steady Eddie

Day 15: S83° 02' 33", W051° 44' 18" Altitude: 1227m Daily distance: 13.9MI Distance to go: 867MI

Today was relatively free of drama, which is how I prefer my Antarctic expeditions. The weather improved all day (and is now sunny and completely still as I lie in my tent), the visibility was great, and the surface was reasonably kind. The only real downer was the rolling nature of the terrain: I slogged up three long slopes today only to trundle back down the far side, losing almost all of my hard-won elevation. I’m now camped at 1,227m above sea level so I’ve come up slightly, and I also crossed 83 degrees today, which is a big tick in a box.

The navigation for this section is relatively interesting as I have to squeeze between two mountain ranges (the gap is actually a good 40 miles or so) before the terrain opens out to blank nothingness and I make my way up to the Antarctic Plateau.

The main challenge today was settling in mentally to the pace and scale of the journey. Each day is broken down into seven ‘sessions’ with a quick break in between each one, where I’ll stop, turn the sledge so the back is to the wind, take my goggles/sunglasses and big mitts off, answer the call of nature, then reverse over the sledge with my skis and feet either side of it before sitting down (I roll up my sleeping mats at this section of the sledge so nothing is squashed), putting on my big down jacket and digging out my flask and my daily food bag.

These sessions average 70 or 80 minutes at the moment, and halfway through session one, the thought of working this hard until past six in the evening is almost too much to bear. If you then allow your mind to grasp the fact that you have 50 days of food left in the sledge – another 350 sessions to go – then things can become overwhelming rather quickly. The trick is finding some diversionary tactic to keep the rational mind from truly appreciating the purgatory that lies ahead. Thankfully I appear to have a short memory, a stubborn streak and an inability to process all but the most basic mental arithmetic, which I suspect makes me well cut out for polar travel on foot.

22.42km (12.1 nautical miles) in the bag today, which is a record for this trip so far, and the sledge gets lighter every day so I hope the mileages will keep improving.

Speaking of weight in the sledge, here’s a photo of my slovenly team mate, Barnaby, basking in the heat above my stove. He spent 108 days in Antarctica with Tarka and me on my last expedition, he came with me to the North Pole from Russia in 2004, he’s been to Greenland at least three times, and Jake Meyer even abducted him and took him most of the way up K2, so he’s seen a bit of action.

Last up, happy birthday to Steve Jones! Thanks for your help and friendship over the years Steve – I hope you’re having a fantastic day.

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
22/11/17
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Comments

Kevin wright

22/11/2017

Hi Ben, sounds like a good day weather wise. It’s probably more windy here tonight. I’m working away from home in Nottingham and it’s blowing a houlie! Congratulations on reaching 83 degrees only 7 more to the Pole, are you on target for Christmas Day? I notice your tent yesterday and today is very green on the inside but very black on the outside. Must be a special material to still be bright on the inside. Nice to meet Barnaby for the first time. I have a picture of my bear socks sitting on my ruc-sac while camping in Antarctica. It’s great fun to have these characters with us on special events in our lives. I will show the boys Barnaby’s when we catch up this weekend. Hope you have another great day tomorrow. Take care Kev and Socks!

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Luke Hull

22/11/2017

Well done Ben looks like you’ve settled into a good steady rhythm and making some good distance each day. I just wondered if you are taking many photographs/ film of this expedition if so what with and does it have to be prepared/ adapted to survive the cold?
Keep up the great blogs and steady miles
All the best Luke

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Mardi from Ridgeview

22/11/2017

Well done Ben! Wonderful to hear that you are keeping your spirits up. We are so proud of you and love reading your daily updates. Liked yesterday’s Nirvana song choice, you might have to repeat your desert island disk choices on your return. Can’t wait to celebrate with a glass or two with after your adventures!

Mardi from Ridgeview

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Steve Jones

22/11/2017

Thank you Ben! You are doing so well. Your daily diary reports are excellent and compelling reading, thank you so much for putting so much effort into them. Best wishes, Steve

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Jake

22/11/2017

I’m very fond of that Bear – pleased to see that he’s behaving himself, and that his relaxed attitude hasn’t changed… There’ll always be a place in my rucksack for him if he fancies a return journey to Pakistan next summer! Keep up the good work Barnaby!

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Laurence Jacobs

22/11/2017

I like your polar equivalent of eating an elephant ( one bite at a time), by splitting up the immense task you are undertaking into 70-80 minute sessions. I guess you expect to speed up significantly to ensure that the 50 days of food is sufficient and ward off the need for a resupply? Have fun, be safe & happy.

Laurence

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