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.
Routine (Day 9)
Day 9: S78° 16' 29.46", E168° 27' 53.28"
Duration: 6 Hr
Daily distance: 7.5 Mi
Distance to go: 1738.9 Mi
Temperature: -26 °C
Wind chill: -29 °C
Altitude: 141 Ft
Today was better on every front. The weather was great: -26ish when we set off, with a bit of sunshine and hardly any wind or cloud, and it stayed the same all day. The surface was consistently hard and smooth as well, and the sleds ran as well as could be expected considering each still weighs 190kg or so.
The principal challenge now is mental: settling into the routine, and trying to negotiate the crushing reality of three-and-a-bit more months of the same, racing against dwindling food and time, yet nursing bodies and equipment through a prolonged battering in one of the harshest places on earth. I'm not sure I'd say it's fun, but there are some real moments of magic.
I turned to look back along our tracks during the first hour's skiing this morning, and Erebus looked just like Mount Fuji, with dark flanks ringed by a fuzzy skirt of cloud and a white summit cone framed by the swimming pool-blue sky.
I'll answer a couple of questions, but I'm on cooking duty tonight (we swap each day) so can't reply to 'em all:
Q) What does Tarka do when you blog?
A) Right now he's fixing a broken zip, but usually he'll be choosing photos or video to send back, setting up the solar panels to recharge our four battery packs, setting up the Pilot (our satellite data transmitter, that lives outside in a sled) or - every other day - cooking.
Q) Why 12.9 miles on day one and now 7 or less?
A) The sea ice was a far faster surface than the snow we're on now, but the main reason we travelled so far on day one is that we left a lot of our food and fuel near where our plane landed on McMurdo's sea ice runway by Scott's Discovery hut, before skiing fast to Cape Evans with lighter loads to visit/start from the Terra Nova hut, and then picking up the food and fuel on the way back. We wanted the plane to drop us and all our gear at Scott's Terra Nova hut but new regulations prevented that, and skiing there (the wrong way) from McMurdo with 200kg each in tow would have taken another two days, before we'd even reached "day one", which was time we couldn't afford to waste, and was never something Scott did.