This is More Like it

Day 29: S85° 23' 42", W051° 59' 17" Altitude: 1632m Daily distance: 13.7MI Distance to go: 702MI

The weather has been ace today: blue sky all day, quite cold this morning with a bit of wind (in the minus twenties) then feeling warmer this afternoon as the wind died down. The sastrugi and generally rubbish terrain continued until mid-afternoon, when it started to shrink as I skied on, and then vanished completely when I stepped through a gap between two low ridges, like walking through a gate into a giant white field. The snow is still a little soft, so it doesn’t score top marks, but it’s an awful lot better than the assault course I’ve been scrambling through.

I decided it might be flat enough to switch to my ‘faster’ skis, with the short skins. I’ve attached a photo of the two different skis side-by-side so you can see the difference – the coloured fabric strip is the only section that has traction on the snow, but it also produces friction as I slide my foot forwards with each step. The long skins are grippy but slow, and the short skins have less grip but much better glide. They were fantastic this afternoon, and it felt like I was moving faster.

I was wondering about sastrugi today – as it’s been the bane of my life for the last few days – and how long it takes to form. I know it’s created by the wind acting on the snow, but I have no idea if some of these massive ridges and troughs are purely seasonal, and blasted into shape each winter, or whether they might have been around for years, with layers slowly being plastered on and chiselled into shape by the wind…

Lastly, wishing Belinda a very happy birthday today from Antarctica!

Some answers for you:

1) Class 6E from Great Crosby here, Ben. We are fascinated with your every move and you have been inspired from your treacherous journey so far. We have a few questions.

a) How do you charge you electronic devices?

It’s 24-hour daylight here so I have a solar panel outside my tent while I sleep, tied to the top of my sledge, that charges everything up.

b) How can you upload images if you have been disconnected to the internet?

I can send and receive short messages via satellite, and upload compressed images, but the connection is too slow for me to use the Internet, or social media like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

c) How grueling was you training regime before undertaking the adventure?

It was pretty tough, and a mixture of endurance training like running and cycling, and strength training in the gym, lifting heavy weights.

d) How does it feel to be one of the only people on the continent of Antarctica?

Right now, with the sun shining on my tent, I feel very lucky!

2) Hi Ben. I was wondering if there is anything to be afraid of out there?

There were a few crevasses earlier in my journey, near the coast, so falling into a hole was a genuine fear then. Strong winds can be worrying, especially trying to put up or take down my tent in a storm. If I let go of the tent and it blows away then I’m in big trouble!

3) Hi there, the children in yr 4 at Jericho Primary School are all amazed by your efforts and have been inspired to do some fantastic writing about Antarctica. We have got some questions we would like you to answer if possible:

a) Which songs make you move faster? What’s on your ipod?

I have a wide range of music, but the stuff that makes me ski fastest is probably drum and bass. I have Keeno’s new album with me, All the Shimmering Things, and although it’s probably not many people’s cup of tea, it definitely boosts my speed!

b) If you are wearing big gloves, how do you pick up something if you drop it?

I try not to drop anything! I actually dropped one of my mittens when it was quite stormy a couple of weeks ago but managed to spear it with my ski pole before it blew away completely. Luckily I have a spare set, but it was still a moment of panic…

c)What’s been the toughest part so far?

Either climbing the Wujek Ridge, or dealing with zero visibility in whiteouts.

d) How many pairs of socks do you wear?

Two! A thin liner pair and a big thick woolly pair.

e)  Have you come across any equipment or signs of other explorers on your travels, including your friend?

Nothing at all.

f) What are you looking forward to doing the most once completed?

A hot shower, putting on some clean clothes (I’ve been wearing the same underwear for 29 days now!) and hugging my fiancée Pip. Definitely in that order as I’m not sure anyone would want to hug me in my current condition!

 

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
06/12/17
»
Comments

Finbar Caulfield

08/12/2017

Hi Ben you are certainly an inspiration, question, are you carrying out any specific scientific observations over the course of your journey?

Reply

Intrepid

07/12/2017

Hi Ben,

Sounds like you have had a well deserved breather.

Curious to know whether you are leaving any markers along the way… for those who may one day follow… or for scientific reasons …. or ….

Reply

Kevin Wright

07/12/2017

Hi Ben, so pleased that today has been so much better and let’s hope the sastrugi eases off now. I love the picture with your skies especially the sparkles in the snow. Looks like diamonds on my iPad. If they are make sure you pick some up for me! apparently there are diamonds in Antarctica. Take care Kev

Reply

Intrepid

07/12/2017

Ugh. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t get wind of the Kimberlites and decide he is going to overturn the legal protection of Antarctica next.

Iron Lords

06/12/2017

Once you hit the pole how will your compass work – won’t every direction be “North”?

Reply

Gavin

06/12/2017

Hi Ben, glad things are looking a bit brighter in the sastrugi front and thanks for answering the Greenacres Emerald class question they were thrilled and are busy working on some more!

Reply

mike smithwick

06/12/2017

Hi Ben, when you reach lat -90, are you going take a break and meet with the crowd at the Scott Amundsen station? Or stop just long enough to get a selfie in front of the pole marker, then head on back?

It’d be neat if you could pose in front of the webcam down there.

PS. Just listening to Keeno. I may have to pick up some of his tracks.

Reply

Adam

06/12/2017

Love reading these blogs, keep them coming! Question- How do you wax your skis without an iron?

Reply

Lynn Campbell

06/12/2017

Great to hear you had a good day yesterday. You’re doing fab. Love reading your posts each day and thanks for answering my questions

Reply
Post a Comment

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