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.
Four Seasons in a Day
We’ve taken to skiing at night recently, largely because it’s often almost unbearably warm during the day, but also because the light gets better for photography and filming the later you stay up. During the day the sun arches high and bright, leaving us squinting through sunglasses into the white glare, skiing in desert-racer hats to protect our pink necks, and rummaging in salopette pockets for Factor 50.
But around half eleven at night is when the magic starts to happen, as the sun dips low towards the mountains on the horizon and bathes us in a light that seems peculiar to the high latitudes; the skyline a glowing thermonuclear orange and the surface of the snow -depending on how the shadows lie- either a soft blue or a faint buttery yellow, like Cornish ice cream. According to our GPS, there is less than an hour between sunset and sunrise.
The range of temperatures and conditions Greenland serves up in 24 hours is extraordinary. Yesterday we woke in a stifling heat and cooked breakfast lying on top of our sleeping bags with the tent door wide open. We set off skiing with our sleeves pulled up to our elbows and tops unzipped to our bare chests. Six hours later, with spindrift snaking past our ankles, we were gritting our teeth into a merciless headwind, somewhere in the minus twenties, wearing goggles, face masks and ludicrous oversized mittens.
And as Al puts it so well, we’re only happy when we’re complaining. At plus five I’m infuriated by the sweat trickling down my back and at minus twenty five in a stiff breeze, it hurts just to touch a tent pole or a metal fuel bottle. You’ll be pleased to hear, however, that I have one less thing to complain about today: I have been reunited with my spoon. I suspected Al all along, but it actually resurfaced in one of Mr. Hartley’s bags. At least, we reflected over our foil packets of freeze-dried chicken jalfrezi last night, it was one less thing that I’ve had to drag uphill for the past four days.