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.
No Easy Miles (Day 66)
Day 66: S88° 58' 43.56", E157° 53' 21.72"
Duration: 10 Hr 30 Min
Daily distance: 21.6 Mi
Distance to go: 827.8 Mi
Temperature: -22 °C
Wind chill: -30 °C
Altitude: 9888 Ft
Tarka called today "Unequivocally the toughest day of the expedition" and it certainly ranked up there with the most challenging for me too. Perhaps naively, we thought that the mileage would come relatively easy on the flat(ish) plateau with our sleds at their very lightest, but Antarctica always seems to have a way of showing you who's boss and we've really struggled hard for every metre today.
We'd set ourselves a target of 36km per day until the next depot, but I called it a day just shy of 35km this evening after about ten hours on the move, and with Tarka getting worryingly cold as the temperature dropped. Thankfully I seem to be a human furnace and usually wear one layer less than Tarka when we're on the move, though of course the flip side is that when he's on form I have to bury myself to keep up with his lanky strides.
We'd thought we'd be able to retrace our tracks all the way to the top of the Beardmore, as Shackleton and Scott did, but we lost them yesterday in a lot of fresh snow and in a very flat light when the ky clouded over for an hour or so, so we set a bearing straight for our last depot -as of course unlike the men here a century ago, we have its coordinates saved as a GPS waypoint- only to rediscover our old tracks again this afternoon.
We seem to have passed through a weird Bermuda Triangle up here near the Pole; our satellite tracking beacon is on the blink and has turned itself off twice now, with a battery indicator that goes from full to flat in a few minutes, and our spare GPS (a little Garmin Gecko) conked out a few days ago and needed a hard reset that deleted all its waypoints. In addition, our main GPS was giving us some very wonky magnetic bearings to follow as we approached the Pole, but it seems to have sorted its act out now. It's quite alarming to realise how much faith we have in these tiny gadgets, and how utterly reliant we are on them to find our depots on the way home.
It's another late night now here (nearly 11pm as I type) so I'm going to sign off now. We're rushing to get off the plateau, but we pick up our Pilot at the depot so we'll have way more bandwidth for videos, decent photos and answering questions again. Thanks for following as we trudge north again, and sorry if I'm moaning a bit at the moment!