Miles skied – 445 Miles remaining to South Pole – 49
Elevation Gained from coast – 9,071 feet Elevation at South Pole – 9,400 feet
This week we exited the nightmare degree (87 degrees south), passed Ernest Shackleton's 1909 furthest south and finally climbed to the Polar Plateau at 9,000 feet. The highs and lows continue – at least 2 days this week I just stopped in my tracks and could not put one foot in front of the other. It was several minutes before I could continue. Those days were a low point on the trip – it seemed like my body had just shut down. 2 days later, I seemed back to normal and we skied our record day of 13nm. We are now balancing the adrenaline rush of the final push for the Pole with our ever-deteriorating physical condition. It is very strange and a little concerning and has been mind over matter for several weeks now.
We have to be ever vigilant, as on the Plateau it is consistently close to -30°C and with a 10 knot headwind, any exposed skin is instantly numb. Stops for food and drink (cheese, salami and everything else is frozen solid in your sled), breaking free from frozen facemasks, changing iced goggles and adjusting the headphones are increasingly hard with the cold. I feel like I am living the life of a hibernating animal that has mixed up the seasons.
Observations of the week:
– Everything is a numbers game. Miles to go, temperature and windchill, elevation gained, number of pushes to go today, number of minutes until the next rest, number of oatmeal breakfasts left until I never, ever have to eat them again etc.
– Bradley, the youngest member of the group at 30 is very fit. It doesn't seem to matter how much weight we give him, he does not slow down. We even considered making him drag all 8 sleds and then we ski behind. After some deliberation we decided however that would be very unfair...............he would still beat us to the pole.
– The good news is that we are on the Polar Plateau – it is more or less flat and the ploughed field has turned into undulating farmland. The bad news is that the plateau is covered with granular snow that acts on the sleds like sandpaper.
– Apparently there is a gift shop at the South Pole station............
– There is a pole at the South Pole, but it moves every year due to the rotation of the earth.
– With all the hard training and preparations for my departure in November, I had lost 10LBS before the expedition instead of gaining weight as was desired. - I have likely lost another 20 now and need to decide the cheaper option when I get home – new wardrobe or 30 days of eating everything in sight. I think I have made my decision.
Don't forget to check out the Polar Explorers blog, including voice updates at: Polar Blog
Until next week,