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.
Mountains on the Horizon (Day 79)
Day 79: S85° 49' 25.2", E159° 42' 21"
Duration: 9 Hr
Daily distance: 24.7 Mi
Distance to go: 610 Mi
Temperature: -21 °C
Wind chill: -34 °C
Altitude: 8665 Ft
Tarka didn't think we'd see them until tomorrow, but my mum (she was looking at Google Earth when we spoke on the phone last night) thought they might come into view today: the long ridge of summits that makes up the Dominion Range of mountains, to our north east. Mum was right; they appeared over the horizon during the last hour of today. I was in the lead when I spotted them and turned back to Tarka, pointing with my ski pole. He lifted both his poles in the air in a victory salute and it was a special moment.
Spotting those far peaks must have been a huge relief to Shackleton and Scott's teams, the only people in history to have trodden this route before us, and the sight certainly added a spring to our step and a few inches to our stride. We ended up having our best day in ages today, and a record distance for a 'normal' day of nine hours' skiing: nigh-on 40km, or 25 miles. The weather was great: not too cold, a tailwind, and excellent visibility and contrast. The surface was as good as we've had in ages, there's only a small amount of sastrugi, and what's more we've found our old tracks again, raised like railway lines above the snow's surface, so navigating was a doddle.
We both felt physically and mentally strong all day, so last night's feast seems to have paid off. I think we must have consumed close to 8,000 calories in 24 hours, and around 1,200 grams of carbohydrate alone yesterday. Our bodies seem to be processing this colossal amount of energy quite happily, and my inner human performance and nutrition geek wishes we could do a bit more research into our extraordinary metabolic turnover at the moment.
We're celebrating today's mileage with another two dinners each this evening, an extra breakfast shared between us as pudding, and half a litre of sweet tea to wash it all down, so that's close to another 2,000 calories going into my belly between finishing this update and going to sleep...