The Bit Between My Teeth

Day 12: S82° 30' 21", W050° 49' 17" Altitude: 1052m Daily distance: 8.3MI Distance to go: 905MI

Today was one of the most challenging days I’ve ever experienced; on a par with the worst days that Tarka and I battled through on my last expedition in Antarctica, and of course this time I was alone. I can’t recall ever physically working quite as hard as I did today, or having to overcome so much self-doubt.

Even though it’s a molehill compared to the mighty Beardmore Glacier, I was expecting the Wujek Ridge to prove the crux of this expedition, and I wasn’t disappointed. After lulling me into a false sense of security with blue skies, beaming sun and no wind when I took my tent down, ninety minutes later it was blowing so hard that it felt like I was shouldering into it, like a rugby player. When I stopped to rest and planted my ski poles in the snow, they blew over and were nearly taken away by the wind. Spindrift was flung into my face and often covered my skis, so that below my shins I just saw a swirling white mass.

It took three hours to get to the steep section of the slope, and three hours crossing terrain – mostly blue ice – that I couldn’t camp on, so I was becoming more committed with each step. The American guide and polar veteran Ryan Waters was supremely generous to me with photos and information about the route, and described the gradient as “mellow”. Looking back, I now wonder if he typed “mental” but his autocorrect thought better of it. It soon became so steep that it was impossible to move my full sledge, so I had to ferry loads; taking out two large stuffsacks full of food bags (perhaps 40kg) and hauling the sledge up in slow motion, before descending again to pull the bags up the hill. Progress was so slow that I feared I’d be travelling well into the night.

The wind persisted all day, meaning mittens and frozen face mask/goggles for ten hours straight, which is an interesting exercise in sensory deprivation, like trying to do a day’s work in a welding mask and a pair of oven gloves. The icing on the cake was having to cross a sizeable (about a metre wide), but thankfully well-bridged, crevasse at the top.

In a nutshell, a full-on bar brawl of a day, tussling with Antarctica in a foul mood. I got up the hill, which is the main thing, and I take my hat off to the handful of people that have climbed it before me. It certainly took some effort (and more than a little channeling of Jocko Willink).

Last up, a HUGE congratulations to Georgina and Will on their marriage today. I’m sorry I couldn’t be at the wedding, and I was bowled over by the poem that Pip snuck into today’s food bag. Thank you, and I hope you’ve had rather more fun than I have today!

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
19/11/17
»
Comments

Ben Saunders’ solo crossing of Antarctica, and more news from TED speakers | Best Science News

16/12/2017

[…] solo crossing of Antarctica. With chilling detail, Ben Saunders documents his journey across Antarctica as he attempts to complete the first successful solo, unsupported and […]

Reply

Ben Saunders’ solo crossing of Antarctica, and more news from TED speakers | Science News

16/12/2017

[…] solo crossing of Antarctica. With chilling detail, Ben Saunders documents his journey across Antarctica as he attempts to complete the first successful solo, unsupported and […]

Reply

Ben Saunders’ solo crossing of Antarctica, and more news from TED speakers – World News

15/12/2017

[…] solo crossing of Antarctica. With chilling detail, Ben Saunders documents his journey across Antarctica as he attempts to complete the first successful solo, unsupported and […]

Reply

Tobias Mews

20/11/2017

Ben my friend

I’m following your little adventure with awe and admiration. You’re truly one of a kind. So proud of you mate. You’re doing brilliantly!

A bientot

Tobias

Reply

Lizzie Mossop

20/11/2017

Ben, I am in awe of what you are achieving. ‘Well done’ doesn’t cover it! So so many good wishes to you, with love from Lizzie, Edward and everyone from Marshchapel. Xxx

Reply

Sharyle Doherty

20/11/2017

Incredible! Very glad you made the climb successfully. Hope your tomorrow features easier travel.

Reply

Constance Burch

20/11/2017

Amazing feat, good job. Remember you’re doing something many only dream of. Keep moving forward one step at a time.

Reply

Lele

19/11/2017

This was a bad day, I can guess. Keep your good spirits up and hopefully you will have many more good days.

Reply

Kevin Wright

19/11/2017

Hi Ben, and I thought I had a tuff day today. Sounds bloody awful. As for me it was a mere 25 miles on my bike but in my defence I do have two relatively new metal knees. The sun was out in Wiltshire today, bright with beautiful blue sky’s and I thought of you and that climb as I was peddling along. Oh I forgot to say my new bike is electric and the best thing ever invented for folk with bad knees. They need to design some sort of electric powered pulk! Now there’s a challenge for you inventors out there! I bet you’re glad you had the extra rest yesterday. Hope tomorrow is a bit easier. Take care, Kev

Reply

Tiffany

19/11/2017

What a challenge! Your day sounds unimaginably difficult, but what an adventure! I’m following along your journey from Kansas, USA and wishing you a flat course with easy winds tomorrow. Very best wishes to you!

Reply

Simon

19/11/2017

Keep up the good work! If what you are attempting is easy everyone would be doing it, but it isn’t easy and that’s why you are doing it! Put some 90s drum and bass on and power through. Good luck

Reply

Keith Goldhanger

19/11/2017

Tell me about the music you’re listening to whilst you’re travelling please. What do you listen to? How big is that playlist & how often do you have music playing during the day ?
I met your briefly at Secret Garden Party years ago. I was there for the music of course but caught your talk which is why i’m still spending a lazy Sunday years later reading all this.
Best of luck –
Keith x

Reply

Katharine

19/11/2017

Ben, what a nightmare day for you! Put’s mine into perspective! We are enjoying following your interesting and well written blog. Keep up the good working all fronts. Katharine and Roger.

Reply

Mim

19/11/2017

Great you made that hurdle Ben. Mim & Graeme x

Reply

Sheila England

19/11/2017

You probably knew you’d have days like this, but not so soon!
You did it!
Well done. Sleep well.

Reply

Kim

19/11/2017

Amazing determination and stamina Ben. Really looking forward to your next update.

Reply

Darcy

19/11/2017

Hang in there, Ben! You made it through. Hopefully it was the hardest day you’ll have.

Reply

Mathew Schraeder

19/11/2017

The motto of my life that has been handed down to me by my father is “One foot in front of the other”

Keep at it mate. One foot in front of the other…

Reply

David Graham

19/11/2017

Thank you for taking the time to share Ben – I did have what i’d normally describe as a bad day, which I have now rethought !
You sound like you are in great spirits despite today’s “mental” day. Keep it up you are doing an amazing job !
David (we sailed around the Isle of Wight together on a trimaran !)

Reply

Louise George

19/11/2017

Amazing! What a gruelling day and incredible achievement. So great reading about your progress on this awesome adventure! Cheering you on from back home in Richmond.

Reply

Jason Hay

19/11/2017

What an incredible day! Hang in there, brother! Enjoy your evening – earned rest is always the best rest.

Reply

Luke Hull

19/11/2017

Keep battling it Ben, all steps in the right direction.

Reply

Mal Owen

19/11/2017

Sounds like stuff of nightmares to me but pleased you conquered it and can now put it down to experience.

Reply

Debs

19/11/2017

Take pride in your massive achievement today and may it spur you on yet further.

Reply
Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *