Tuesday, 27 December 2016

rest evening

Ahhhhh sooo lovely. This pm I had a rest, ate a tonne of food!?!, had a snooze, caught up with blog and well, just relaxed and didn't ski!

Suns out, nil wind and well - what a great finish to the 'interesting' day (yep... another story to tell).

The South Pole is now only a few days away, its definitely getting colder with a wee bit more ice to pull off the face mask and coat. But it is really exciting to be so close.

This remote solo trip has among many other things already taught me that even though I enjoy and yes, need solo time; family and friends (new and old) are very important people in my life. Without their company, supportive messages and support of this and other adventures I have been on, I probably would have found it harder.... a lot harder.

However one of the benefits of having this 'solo time' is that it has given me more time to think about things such as where I want to take my life next, what i do and reflect on habits (good and bad). One thing that I have thought about a great deal is a 'great' habit of trying to distance myself from those I care about in times when I become unsure of the outcome - as a way to protect them (and in part I) but what has been a very lovely realisation is that they seem to know that too and will wait.... patiently with understanding.... but it doesnt make it right. I am sorry. Something to work on eh?

There is so much that I want to say about this remote solo time - it has been a comfort but equally it has pushed so many boundaries, fears but also reaffirmed many things too. The last couple of years have been the amazing - (and worst too), but I have met (and virtually met) some of the most wonderful, interesting and lovely people on this planet; and I am truely grateful. I know I have said this before.... but if you cant say the same or something similar - then you probably need some time out too.

Oh, and did you know you can even get Polar thigh on your knee?? I didn't realise that you could. Funniest of things.

My dinner....

This am - a light covering of snow hoars... very beautiful.

To the Pole and back....

Its been a very tough 3 or so days but hoping that things will now start to change. .... i am now on the Pole straight. Today I needed to decide whether I was going to go for the return or stop at the Pole (I am not there yet).
Apart from the last few days, I have remained at a pace that means that I can/ am fit/ have enough weight to go for the return -the main purpose of this journey.

Of course, with the two/three week delay in Punta and UG, the full return is unlikely, so I will be looking at the mileage. How far can I get back, how much can my body cope with? It would be very easy to walk away, say thats it as I get to the pole - or perhaps I should say IF I get to Pole. I say this because earlier today I was at a point that I didn't think I was going to make it to my current location let alone Pole (yep, another story). Of course, it would be great to complete the full return ...... but lets see what happens with my body, the weather and conditions.

In short, just like the PCT - I set out with lots of unknowns, apprehensions, questions, what ifs and doubts but came back with a whole new bank of memories, sets of skills, ideas, loves, friends, more memories and experiences. Its the same here... and That is the important bit. Life is too short not to try something new... who knows what may happen......
So, guess thats my decision - The return it is.... .

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Just in the 87th degree (i started at 80 and pole is at 90 degrees). 87 degree is known for sastrugi, sastrugi and more sastrugi..... guess the sastrugi heaven has started then .....
just waiting for more white out days ...... i reckon it will hit just as i am near the back end of the degree where the sastrugi is at its worse..... bets please.....

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Thank you Hazel.... I got your message.... uber sweet, thank you xx

So, i was a little late getting out of bed. Nae matter.... it was blue sky and the sun was out.... my lateness would be made up.
Well, that would have been true ... except as i put on my skies.... i noticed a quick moving cloud on the ground moving my way.
Yep, freezing fog to entertain me... i even had snow hoars on my compass strap on. Everything had a layer of ice!! For most of the rest of the day, I had the continued joy of no or poor visibility - the photo was taken after a few hours of no sky. This strip of blue gave me a reference point to ski to.
Apparently, today was meant to be 'blue sky and nil wind'..... err clearly not in my world!!!

Monday, 19 December 2016

This is a great picture of the hill that I am currently pulling my sled and myself up. Currently I have reached just under 2000m. Still the hard degrees of Sastrugi 87 and 88 (sastrugi is the size of buses etc).
Desperate for a day off and a shower .... day 35 .... time is increasingly too short to do the return ..... but the fat lady (who is losing pounds by the day) hasn't sung just yet. Need to get through 87 and 88 degrees first.....

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Making tracks all day ...... lovely fresh snow... soft, sticky and pulk attracting ..... soft squashy snow!!! Thats the result of three days of white out... or was it four??

Although it looks lovely... it does make pulling the sled harder and just skiing too (as usually its up hill!).

Hoping that good weather will start..... especially as I start to prepare for the maybe return journey (more about that in due course).

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

I have really loved reading some of the messages that have been passed through. You have all made my day. Stephen - even the lovely Doc thinks I am bonkers .... but the freeze dried food IS amazing...but i spent time cycling around the uk trying out different combos - so yes, they are good.
Mr Drew - always the supportive - hows the park ?? xxx
Karen - there have been many times that I have thought of the boxing class - as I try to 'find the rhythm' .... and yes, day 30 means that I hope i have lost a stone already. Still got some more to lose though
Veronica - thank you for your support - very welcomed after a hard day today (although no change there).
Nikki - aaaawwweeeew a m&s beef wellington - i have spent the last 5 days firstly hoping that the lovely and amazing fuel engineers would be at theils again cause this time last year they cooked the most amazing roast and beer!!! - sadly they weren't.... gutted. What I would do now for a beef wellington or roast.....
thank you lewis - whenever i see a comment from you I cant help but smile with happy reflections.
Dada - hmmm we may have a competition arising ... out here there arent any smells.... but I can smell myself - no shower for a month, no change of clothes and with 10hours of hard exercise a day ........ coupled with that my bed is my kitchen, living room and dining room ... so a few crumbs around
Hey Caroline - where are you in the world now?

The cloud rolling in ... the fresh snow dropped within these clouds make skiing even harder!! Joy!! No to mention that you cant see anything and cant gauge depth - this means that you can drop very quickly ... or the pulk can fun fun fun

Morning - no sleep due to wind gusting all night.... no shower for a month ..... i look how I felt that time ...

Sunday, 11 December 2016

I have just arrived at the half way point to the pole. Its so very close... i need to be at the South Pole by 31st December if there is any chance of me having time to make the return journey - 300nm to go. I am fine, fit and well ... and even after many days without tunes, mentally strong (even though I am unlikely to want to cross-country ski for some months, oh and why is it i find myself in a more rigid routine than ever before!!! - my hell!!)

However, its all about timing and i have to say, if there wasnt that 2-3 week delay in Punta and at Union Glacier ... i would be very confident at this time. So, its in the lap of the gods....... i will continue ... plodding along at a healthy pace so that I can make the return journey (there is no point racing and skiing night and day - as that wont let me return). I really hate this time pressure though... i am not competitive with myself, another or in this case TIME!!! I just want to complete this challenge ...

P.s my treat tonight was to have x2 freeze dried dinners... uber full (one was plenty) ..... but yum oh so good!! Great to over indulge ... just this once

I have three 24 hour flasks. Means that I dont have to cook in the evening ... i get in, eat my ramin and pour water over my freeze dried food. I have to say The freezed dried dinners are stunning and I even (from about 7pm) start dreaming of them. They are that tasty!

my kitchen

Setting a new trend aka morning look. Welcome to my kitchen. Just boiling some water for the day.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Starting to get messages through - thank you everyone for sticking with this and its great to know that folks are interested.
If I start with your message Sue - you want to hear about the mundane? I have to say, it is all very very mundane and that is half the challenge - to get up every morning and ski a distance no matter what the weather and how tired you feel. Taking the day off because the blisters are playing up, you're tired, the wind is howling and adding to the effort of dragging a pulk (and yourself) across the strugi is not an option (although i did swap my routine a couple of days ago because i hadnt slept during the night - but it them made for a very very long ski!
The strugi is super crazy, and although I have already climbed over 4000ft, stepping up, over and down these strugi .... the elevation climbed must be x10000 more!
But what does my day look like? Lets start with the am.
My alarm goes off at 6am and its up (sit up in the sleeping bag and moan that it really cant be that time again) and slip into the ski wear. There is definitely an art to it... changing in a sleeping bag, half asleep and making sure everything is the right side out. Depending on what i hear (wind howling/ blowing snow/silence/feel the sun on the tent) - will depend on what layers i will put on.
When dressed and boots are on, i start with breakfast and heating up the days water. I will take some photos .....

Monday, 5 December 2016

Its amazing what a few minutes does. After pitching the tent for the daily check in with base, a great cup of coffee (instant 3 in 1), a quick flit with meditation.... my world became very clear.
Blind bambi on skies was no more .... and it was back to the norm (less blue skies).

16nm later ..... it turned out to be a great session.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The last couple of days have been mentally quite tough .... drum roll the sarcasm....
To date, I have had winds that have blown me over, antarctica cold temperatures, ice and even frostbite but that is all expected and ok... and I have to say, it has been great to test out my equipment in the cold night temps as it will mean that it should stand the test of south pole temps (ok bar the fuel containers that clearly didn't!!).

This year is very different to last year when I was out here. We had tonnes and tonnes of snow, white outs and our sleds/pulks were buried a few times. This meant soft snow undersled and in short, the snow would fill in many of the sustrugi holes, pits and sharp icy edges. This meant (as i have now come to realise), although there were plenty of whiteouts- the skies could feel the ups and downs of the soft, rounded sustrugi and respond appropriately.

Enter..... this year. Hard icy, no snow filling the gaps razor sharp sustrugi that rise up and away sharply that have many lines/channels that often finds the left ski in one channel, the right ski in another and the sled choosing its own channel that drops away steeply, thus allowing the sled to slide sideways and overturn at the bottom of the stustrugi channel... now that would be fine if the sled was acting out its own stunts in its own adventure movie!! Instead what the above means in reality is that I find myself reinacting Bambi on skies!! Add a whiteout .... yep .... suddenly i do a great impression of blind Bambi on skies!!!! Very messy and very slow!!