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.
El Pinguino and Barnaby Bear (Day 33)
Day 33: S82° 00' 14.04", E169° 05' 31.5"
Duration: 8 Hr 30 Min
Daily distance: 18.4 Mi
Distance to go: 1480.8 Mi
Temperature: -8 °C
Wind chill: -17 °C
Altitude: 177 Ft
As we hauled our way along today I was pondering over the two tiny mascots I'm dragging along with me, Barnaby Bear and El Pinguino, or Mr. Penguin; I've not named him yet.
Barnaby was given to me many moons ago by (I think!) a class at Penair School in Cornwall. He's been on three North Pole attempts from Canada, four Greenland expeditions and a long way up K2 with the brilliant Jake Meyer, so he's a hardened veteran. You'll note he also has a guardian angel pinned to his scarf*.
Mr. Penguin was a gift from my mum before this expedition. His wings are spring loaded, so he clings to the washing line that hangs in the roof of our tent every night.
Neither of them are really pulling their weight. They offer no calorific value. They can't do anything about wildly proliferating bacteria in my gut. They can't navigate, they can't melt snow, they can't recharge the Ultrabook or the satellite phone. As far as I can tell, they're both deaf, blind and mute. The reason they're here of course, is to lift my spirits. I think of my mum every time I lie back in my sleeping bag and see the penguin latched on to the roof (often swaying and wobbling wildly in high winds).
The human spirit; the will to continue striving and believing often against the odds (or perhaps always against the odds: as Pema Chodron cheerily put it, "Life is like getting into a boat that's just about to sail out to sea and sink") is a difficult thing to calibrate and measure, unlike watts or joules or nautical miles, but more than anything it's what fuels us out here.
Today was an absolute belter. The headwind we've had for days now finally fizzled out to the faintest breeze in our second hour, leaving us with near-perfect conditions. As a result, we cranked out a 18.4 mile (29.7km) day today, a new record by quite a stretch and something we're both pleased with, particularly as we're still pulling 140kg or so each, which I'd say is approximately 1.2 sumo wrestlers per sled.
*Speaking of angels, Tarka and I are both into logic and reason, and I'm afraid to report there's not been much banter of a spiritual nature in the tent. I said a couple of weeks ago that I thought our 62GB SD cards worked like magic as I simply couldn't get my head around how I could fit almost all of my music collection on one of them, and then wipe it clean and use to to store photographs or HD video from our camera. Tarka gave me his Spock look and explained that there's no magic involved at all, just electrical currents and crystalline structures.
P.S. feel free to suggest a name for Mr/Mrs/Miss Penguin and we'll pick a favourite this time next week.