Distance to go:
Ben and Tarka will cover 1800 miles starting from Scott's Terra Nova Hut at the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back to the coast again. That's equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons hauling up to 200kg each (the weight of roughly two adult men) of kit and supplies necessary to survive.
Distances here are shown in statute miles.
Back in the Saddle (Day 71)
Day 71: S88° 03' 14.04", E159° 10' 0.54"
Duration: 4 Hr
Daily distance: 9 Mi
Distance to go: 763.7 Mi
Temperature: -20 °C
Wind chill: -30 °C
Altitude: 10066 Ft
A modest day for us today (we slept for ten hours and skied for four hours after a pretty lazy start) and a correspondingly short update this evening as I'm on snow-melting and cooking duty.
Only now, after a lot of sleep and a lot of food, are we starting to realise quite how depleted we were a few days ago. It's still pretty fresh outside (-30 degrees C. windchill all day today) but our ability to generate heat and to carry out basic tasks outside in thin gloves (like zipping up salopettes after venturing out for a poo with a view) has increased dramatically, and I woke up warm this morning instead of feeling chilled and miserable.
Interestingly, Tarka and I have both gone from being almost unable to hold a train of thought, other than willing ourselves to carry on (and being haunted by food fantasies and cravings) to being able to daydream away the four hours we travelled today in relative happiness.
We'll do a full day tomorrow and should finish slap bang at the last depot we left, which is 21 miles (34km) away from where we're camped this evening. We were tantalisingly close to reaching it before we called for the resupply, but the more we reflect on things, the more I'm convinced the decision was the right and responsible thing to do, and even if we'd reached it on the verge of collapse, I'm not sure we'd have recovered at all before starting our descent of the Beardmore, a 180km stretch of technical, crevassed glacier where we have almost no chance of being reached by aircraft if we'd got into trouble.
We'll pick up our Pilot at the depot (our satellite antenna that allows to get online at far higher speeds than the phone we're using at the moment*) so we'll be able to read and respond to some of you then, but I know we received an overwhelming number of comments yesterday, and Tarka and I are really grateful for the support you're giving us.
You'll be glad to hear his thumbs are on the mend, and we're indebted to our doctor, Rob Conway, for his advice. A special mention also goes to Tony Haile for the best video message yet (Andy, my expedition manager, asked lots of friends and family to film short messages of support and we have them on the Ultrabook here, password-protected so Andy can drip-feed us motivation as and when we need it).
*To give you an idea of the difference, the heavily-compressed photos we're sending back by phone take about 25 minutes each to upload. In contrast, the Pilot sends a high-resolution photo in about a minute, and a 60-second HD video takes about six or seven minutes. We'll send a video back in the next few days...