Sunday, 31 January 2016

31/1/16 - January 31, 2016 at 07:54PM

10.5 hours, 1.5 hour pulls and 14nm!! Woohooo!! With only 12.5nm to go. Tomorrow is only -36 degrees with 10kt wind chill (-47 degrees?) with even a bit of down hill ... so hoping to be done by 6pm. 

But its that 'last' again ... Creeping into my day. Last night in the open antarctica, last dinner, last putting up the tent, last day, last pull.... darn these lasts.... well maybe not.... I began this journey knowing that a solo adventure would be more fitting and although I have learnt so much about antarctica, living and working in it, I just cant imagine not coming back. I have fallen for Antarctica, which is uber odd given all of the challenges and barriers presented. 

So, solo it is (again I call for any businesses who would like to become a sponsor to please make contact asap).

I have a very long list of things that I need to alter, research, find and train to make the solo more effective.  Over the last week on trail I have thought a lot about the solo.

The biggest benefit of linking with ALE and having a guide for the first expedition is that if I had gone solo straight off,  I suspect, especially with the conditions this year I wouldn't have been prepared enough for the extreme challenges.... but now... well thats a different case, moreso as I have experienced the extreme (with a safety net around me) and seen it through to the end. Of course, who knows what tomorrow may bring and there is still (given the number of challenges already presented) the chance that I may not make the 12.5nm .... but darn it !!!  Anyway, time for sleep, its going to be a big old emotional day tomorrow either way........

Saturday, 30 January 2016

30/1/16 - January 30, 2016 at 07:07PM

-48 degrees ..... Oh my! We are in it well and truely. Its so cold .... everything, and I mean everything turns to ice immediately. Having 2 sleeping bags is great but even now they are starting to not work in these temps. So, its all about the layers. Today we had to put the tent up for 3 hours in the middle of the day because of the cold. With a couple of quick trail stops, not warming up on the trail (slow lunges for 9 hours doesnt do it sadly) and not having enough layers on meant that my body (and especially hands) turned to ice. When that happens it feels like someone is sawing my fingers off and the group shelter didnt help this time, so tent it was. After a couple of hours warming up hands and toes, putting on another 2 layers, we set off again in a far better state. But its blinkin cold!!!!! However, the three hours lost on trail have to be made up ... So we skied until 8pm and will make up the extra 1.5 hours tomorrow whilst hoping to gain a few more miles as the temp is only -34 degress, rather than -36 (both exclude wind chill), providing of course that we get through the -38 (plus additional wind chill) tomorrow evening!!! Words cant describe this ... my muscles and body are definately very tired and blinkin hurt especially with every lunge and pull! I can (and have for many a while) feel every part of the rucksack on my body, every pull of the sled and gust of wind... all -48 degrees of it! My softer side would definately cry at this moment but instead tomorrow I will wake up and will be able to say 'tomorrow is the last day'...., and I will probably cry for different reasons.

Friday, 29 January 2016

29/1/16 - January 29, 2016 at 06:40PM

Omg -42-48 degrees today!! (Includes wind chill and getting colder!! Oh my... Oh oh my!!! Best I get sprinting on the spot then!! 12ish nm today..... 3 days to go ....

Thursday, 28 January 2016

28/1/16 - January 28, 2016 at 06:05PM

12nm, -33, 2hr pull first thing followed by 1.5hr pulls for 9hrs. Today I perfected the art of running on the spot, on skis, with the pulk taking my weight (yes these days the pulk can hold my weight). It probably looked completely daft, but it got the blood following and helped me get warm, and heck there arent many spectators around even of the animal variety! Oh! And mad panic today, I have only now one more packet of Raman left!! Raw Raman is part of my routine as I leave the trail, change my top and wait for the wetwipes to warm up before I wash my feet etc. Not sure what I will do the day after tomorrow, guess it will have to be more chocolate, cheese and salami!! 4 more days ...

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

27/1/16 - January 27, 2016 at 05:40PM

11.4nm ... -33 plus wind chill. 1.5 pulls 8 hours. Reached 89th degree (one more to go aka 60nm left). 5 days left.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

26/1/16 - January 26, 2016 at 05:22PM

12.5nm 6 more days. I am missing the environment already....

25/1/16 - January 26, 2016 at 05:21PM

25/1/6 12.5nm. Flat, few bumps. 1.5 hour pulls. 9 hours. 7 more days to go. At least the sun is out.

Friday, 22 January 2016

22/1/16 - January 22, 2016 at 07:13PM

New guide, Patchi, who arrived yesterday, has been a star by stepping into the breech at the last minute, dropped into the middle of Antarctica to pull a sled over sustrugi and face -29 degrees with 8-10kts wind chill added to it! All so that I can continue the journey to the South Pole! Many thanks go again to ALE who I cant thank enough! Things should get better, apart from the -31 degrees (with further cooling with the wind chill), cloud and snow that will arrive tomorrow!!! I have to say, this journey has been full of 'challenges, bad luck and barriers' .... but I cant help but smile ... Cause I am STILL here and still travelling.... at the moment ... AND we are now in the 88th degree.... So only 2 degrees left to do! 120nm left. We did have to get the group shelter out today as I got a tad cold with the wind chill! But all was well very quickly so that we could continue on our way. Hmmm and key equipment for the solo journey (I hope this November) are 'handwarmers!' A must have in my books and so great to try them out today for the first time

21/1/16 - January 22, 2016 at 07:12PM

What a day. Officially it was my first full rest day (ohhh how my muscles appreciated it) but it was the day for resupply and change of guides. We say a sad farewell to Carl who has endless knowledge and has set me in good stead and focus for the solo challenge but say a big hello to Patchi who will get me to the south pole. I have to say, its been 6 weeks, 24/7 with Carl on a 1:1/ sole person to chat to so it will be strange.... Ohhhh and did I mention a resupply? With beer, cakes, cookies, suppportive messages from union glacier and raman? OH my .... And the ginger cookies from union glacier ... Oh my, oh my, heaven! Guess thats me rolling out of the tent tomorrow followed by supersonic skiing across the sustrugi and hills (yep, I can see them in distance!)... but for now its bed ....

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

21/1/16 - January 20, 2016 at 06:43PM

Its getting colder ....

19/1/16 - January 20, 2016 at 06:51PM

A very bumpy day skiing over the sustrugi. However, managed to 'bump' into Stew and Devon who were a pair kiting back to our start point from the south pole. So great to see them and we shared a wee dram before parting ways. There were lots of hugs ... Something that I haven't had since the start point. Funny what you suddenly realise what you have missed..... (Along with a massive craving for a huge burger, beer, salad, chips, roast dinner, banoffee pie, real filter coffee...... The list is long ....) 

Funny old world ..... In the middle of antarctica and guess who we bumped into (although it was close to them just kiting by)

21/1/16 - January 20, 2016 at 06:42PM

21/1/16 11.5nm uphill still through the bumpy sustrugi! We stopped early as we may have found a good landing spot for the new guide, resupply and of course the plane. Getting even colder -25 today plus wind chill! Everything is freezing even the tent. Last night and tonight will need both sleeping bags. Sadly a downside of the cold with little/ no sun is that ice ladden clothes do not dry ......and ice clothes are put back on in the morning.....

Monday, 18 January 2016

16/1/16 - January 16, 2016 at 08:53PM

13.5nm uphill, into wind (uber cold) and with plenty of sustrugi bumps to keep the stomach, leg and shoulder muscles warm!! 200+m elevation (but doesnt include the bumps) .... So only 800m up to go!! Sounds timy amounts but constant with sled being pulled definately adds to the millage.....

Friday, 15 January 2016

- January 15, 2016 at 05:18PM

There isn't any contrast today... Bring back the sun (less wind please).

14/1/16 - January 15, 2016 at 05:15PM

15.2nm in 9 hours ... Decreasing to no definition or contrast as the day quickly progressed- which sadly adds to the hidden milage or meander miles that aren't recorded. Great to be starting 9 hour days .... Feeling great! Definately getting colder the closer to pole we get. Really looking forward to passing the next degree tomorrow - thats a 4 day degree!! Woohooo! Windy 25kt wind tomorrow with the heavy (bus sized) sustrugi (i will find out the spelling for that) to get over... Joy!! So should be an interesting day.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

39 days since my last shower - January 13, 2016 at 05:06PM

13/1/16 - January 13, 2016 at 04:47PM

16nm in 8 hours (inc breaks!) such a good feel to make more miles even within the restrictive 8 hour slot! However today, although overcast, we only had one wee hill (although it was one of those magicical white wall that you could see for miles again) and no wind! So, a good day! I love the motivation of miles rather than time skiing .... Much more my styleeee.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

11/1/16 - January 12, 2016 at 04:25PM

13.5 nm .... Still a tad windy in am but cleared by the pm. So, we are still going up hill and something that wont change for 2.5 degrees (150nm or 200ish miles). I had a 'moment' after i heard that ..... My ski and legs refused (for a minute or so) to move...... Absolute mind block in a mind blocking sorta day..... Good news though .... Another degree completed... So only 4 more to go and tomorrow the wind shouldnt be 25-30kts .... It all adds to the weight of the sled and how quickly the fingers turn white.

Monday, 11 January 2016

10/1/16 - January 11, 2016 at 04:29PM

Cold, cold wind all day! Makes travelling interesting and slow (11.8 nm) .... Today was one long hill .... And although we have camped near the top, it looks like tomorrow another awaits (with no down hill). Although windy, i have to say the landscape is stunning. The low blowing snow magically and mystically meanders across the vast open space, jumping the snow dunes and gracefully being guided by the wind. 248nm to go .... Passing the next degree tomorrow..... 86 therefore 4 more degrees to go..... But its uber tight!!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

9/1/16 - January 09, 2016 at 05:29PM

Uggg .... 13nm but it felt like i was pulling a lorry today. Shoulders and neck were playing up but .... Nae matter ... 13nm with the magic hill and a 0.5 nm magical detour ... I was happy with the end result. I had a look at the photo that i took last night of the 'mammouth white wall' that we were skiing towards for many nm's ... Sadly it doesnt give the true eye perception of the mirage, and a mirage it wasish .... As the photo this am proved.... But by'eck (ha ha the northern accent is rubbing off a little) it was hard pulling the lorry up that hill (gentle that it was). Wind is likely to be up tomorrow am 25kts gusting (darn it... I am not ready for a rest) ... So hoping to ski through the evening ... But there is a litttttlllle bit of persuasion needed i think..

Friday, 8 January 2016

8/1/16 - January 08, 2016 at 05:31PM

14.2nm, blue sky, flat, full (aka heavy) sled - now that can be called a great day! Rock'roll However for about 16nm we saw a great big hill in the distance. It only looked like 5nm away .... 'Be up that by lunchtime', I thought. But I was wrong .... 16nm later we are just near the base ... Ready to go up it first thing in the am. Apparently, it looks a lot bigger and closer due to the angle of the sun and the snow particles (or something like that) but I have to say it was a bizzare skiing into a massive white hill wall all day without getting any closer! I am half expecting that by tomorrow am (ok, here's hoping) it will have magically disappeared... 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

7/1/16 - halfway point! - January 07, 2016 at 05:14PM

So lovely and completely unexpected that we saw and spent a lovely evening and morning with Dave, Ben, Ben, Shane and Geoff who I met at Queenstown airport, just by chance, en-route to Wanaka to complete some polar training in New Zealand. How small a world is that!!??!! 

After a full roast and pudding last night washed down by a couple of beers - i have to say it has recharged the batteries somewhat. Moreso as this am breakfast (pancakes, BACON and EGGs) washed down with REAL coffee was just too good. Sensory and tastebud overload... And I had to chew the food! Sounds kinda strange ... But freeze dried food out here is soft, soft and soggy! 

After a lie-in this am (until 9am), a breakfast to die for and a couple of visits to the toilet due to the novelty of being able to sit down on a seat/toilet (bizzare what becomes exciting again), the rest of the am (until 2pm) was spent sorting out the food resupply for the rest of the trip and saying a fond farewell to the very lovely ALE guys who were dropping off more plane fuel at Theils. 

I really dont think that they will know how much of an impact they all had on kindness, morale, food and company. I am truely grateful to them all. 3.5 hours with heavy sled took us 6nm this pm ... So in 3 hours of ski time (with heavy sled) we were on 2nm/hour.... So a promising start!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

halfway 6/1/16 - January 07, 2016 at 01:21AM

Woooohooooooo! Halfway mark made today ..... After 18.5nm (biggest day yet). Got to our second resupply at theils! Such a greart marker. We met some wonderful ALE peeps on route to Theils and had dinner with them real food that you had to chew (roast dinner) WITH beeeeeeeerrrrrrr!!!! Omg - it tasted so good and talk about sensory overload! Spoke to 5 different people (after a month of seeing and chatting to only one person - the guide), sat at a table and there was even a sit down toilet too! (No shower if course) .... Heaven .... Complete heaven.... Even though we have the am to shake out and sort out .... Its good to be here. Halfway.... Wow!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

4/1/16 5/1/16 - January 05, 2016 at 05:12PM

Squits squits squits. Sadly although i was keen to carry on ... Having to stop on trail (with little warning) is difficult and frustrating..... So 4 hours in ... We had to stop. What next!! Fully medicated, was out cold for 4 hours and since then things have improved.... With today 5/1/16 being the first time for a couple of days of not wanting to constantly dash to the windy and uber cold toilet in the snow.... and there is of course a wee bit of comedy action trying to remove layers (see polar strip tease below) and skies in super quick fashion! Surely the luck has to change sometime??!!! Uphill, sastrugi , bitter cold and windy was the order for today. I was really pleased that i had my uber warm wool mitts! A god send when you see fingers turn white within seconds..... Kinda scary and knowing that it will only get colder .... Lets hope the wool continues to do what it has been! We stop every hour and for max 10 min- this is the time to shovel down food and water to get through the next hour. However, blessing that we can stop but there is a double edge sord with it. Stop in the bitter wind ... you freeze ... or the sweat does!!!

- January 03, 2016 at 06:14PM

30 days from today .... I will have either made it to the south pole or not. Gulp. We will be just over the halfway point in 3 days time and completed another degree .... A quick resupply and hoping to guzzel some fresh food..... Ohhh and maybe a drop of wine/gin/beer (although unlikely).... Maybe. Usually on trail i crave beer/fosters ..... And that continues .... But sadly unlike the PCT ... There are no garages, towns, village shops to pop into on route! And i didnt bring anything with me.... I just hope my liver and kidneys really appreciate the break! Today was a steady 13.5ish nm, good weather, blue skyish.... All good apart from the old squitters .... But good news the old battle with the cough is being won .... Yep, so the barriers continue.... But not unsurmountable at the moment. I keep on saying 'well its good to get these things out the way now ..... Sort of!! We passed theiels hills ... So definately on route to theiels corner (resupply) .... In 3 days time .... (That is just passed the halfway point).