87 Degrees South - and it gets much, much harder........
Miles skied - 371 Miles remaining to South Pole - 123
Elevation Gained from coast - 8,540 feet Elevation at South Pole - 9,400 feet
We have almost completed the 60nm between degrees 87 and 88 South - by far the hardest 60 miles we have skied. The sastrugi is like speed bumps on steroids, the elevation gain has been huge, the air temperature is rarely above -25°C and the winds are consistently strong ..........from the south. We have had 2 days of zero ground visibility and windchills are usually between -35°C and -40°C. We are also starting to feel the effects of altitude at close to 9,000 feet (equivalent to 11,000 due the the extreme latitude).
The good news is that we are homing in on our goal and that we had a wonderful Christmas Day complete with decorations, presents (all edible), Christmas lights (thanks Annie), a huge bangers and mash dinner and more deserts than we could eat. This day of rest was much needed as a cumulative fatigue is setting in and our bodies are shrinking ...........muscle first. The effort required to move the sleds 12nm per day over this rough and steep ground at altitude, combined with the calorie deficit of close to 4,000 calories per day is taking it’s toll.
Next goal is the Polar Plateau and the final race to the pole!
For everyone who has sent messages through the blog site, my sincere appreciation. I will read and reply to them all once I am home. Our internet access here is very limited (lucky to have any at all!), so we cannot access regular email or any internet sites.
Observations of the week:
- This expedition has done nothing to quell my hatred for oatmeal. 35 consecutive breakfasts so far has just confirmed it.
- Ditto for Power Bars - eating 6 per day will be sufficient for the rest of my life.
- Oscar the cat - mascot of Borderbrook School in Wales is having a great trip and has pride of place in the tent every night - see photos.
- If you have struggled for 9 hours in zero visibility over the said speed bumps, guaranteed within 2 hours of stopping and camping the sky will be clear (twice in last 3 days).
- By the end of a day’s sledding, your whole front is iced up, so everything has to come off in one frozen “board” in the tent including smock, face mask and headphones - plus a few beard hairs.
- A big milestone is coming up - Ernest Shackleton’s furthest South in 1909 of 88 degrees 23' - we should be there in 2-3 days.
- All the very best for 2015 - I hope to see as many of you as possible in the coming year!
I would also like to pass on a big “Thank You” to my friend Mark Heine who is putting my brief communications into the blog you are all reading - thanks Mark! For anyone interested, Mark is a wonderful photographer - his portfolio can be seen at flickr.com/photos/mheine/
Don't forget to check out the Polar Explorers blog, including voice updates at: Polar Blog
Until next week,