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.
Mirages, Mindfulness, Minna Bluff (Day 6)
Day 6: S77° 59' 39.0120", E168° 15' 36.7200"
Duration: 6 Hr 30 Min
Daily distance: 5 Mi
Distance to go: 1758.8 Mi
Temperature: -29 °C
Wind chill: -32 °C
Altitude: 108 Ft
I feel I should apologise for the amount of whinging and complaining that's been transmitted via satellite from this tent of late. Today was another improbably hard slog, but it struck me this morning that it's a tiny and pretty illustrious band of men who've manhauled on the Ross Ice Shelf in October, and that that club quite rightly comes with a steep entry price.
I also found that working to keep my thoughts in the present helped my mood. Think too far ahead and the scale of this challenge becomes overwhelming, so better to concentrate on the few yards in front, and in looking for beauty (like the immaculate frost flowers on the side of my boots as I sat on my sled to rest) amidst the monotony and pain.
Our spirits were lifted today by the sight of Minna Bluff, a mountainous promontory jutting out from the west (and possibly the last bit of land we'll see for a while) and by stunning mirages on the horizon as we skied towards the midnight sun; great rolling, licking tongues of yellow flame arcing into the sky and then dissolving before our eyes. Tarka and I both thought mirages were caused by heat refracting the sun's rays, so we're puzzled how this happens at -30ish. Does anyone know?
We've been sent a few questions:
Q) When/where will you leave your first depot?
A) We've actually left a depot at the start/finish in case we need to wait for a plane at the end, and our next is in about 40km.
Q) How do you wash?
A) Infrequently! We both have a small bottle of alcohol hand wash gel that we use occasionally, and we can actually wash outside in the snow on warmer days. So far it's been seven days in the same underwear!
Q) Do you have anti-fog on your goggles?
A) We haven't treated them with anything. They tend to stay clear on warmer days, or when we're heading into the sun, but they get bit iced-up otherwise. Mine have windproof fleece sewn into the bottom to protect my face and to deflect my breath from the lens, and it works really well.
Q) Do you see others e.g. researchers?
A) We saw a lot of people when we landed, and some New Zealand scientists working near Scott's Hut, but the further we get from McMurdo the less likely it is we'll see anyone for the next three months or so, other than perhaps at the Pole. I'm sure there are scientists on the Ross Ice Shelf, but it's an area the size of France so it's unlikely we'll bump into anyone.