the Journey

  • Distance to go: 0 Mi

    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.

Runny Noses (Day 16)

Day 16: S78° 54' 0.3", E168° 33' 47.88"

Duration: 7 Hr

Daily distance: 8.7 Mi

Distance to go: 1695.6 Mi

Temperature: -21 °C

Wind chill: -29 °C

Altitude: 203 Ft

A funny old day today: we woke up to beaming sunshine and not a breath of wind, but by the time we were taking the tent down the breeze had piped up and the sky was turning a flat grey.

Within an hour we were travelling through complete whiteout into a headwind that was painful enough to necessitate goggles and face masks (always claustrophobic and joyless) and just to up the misery factor, the surface today was fresh snow that offered more in the way of glue than glide. The sleds seemed as heavy as they were two weeks ago, and we strained at crazy angles into our harnesses.

The sun reappeared after a couple of hours and seemed to burn away most of the cloud, the wind died down and we found ourselves sweating as we clawed our way over the sticky surface, undoing our jackets and swapping full-on balaclavas for skimpy windproof headbands. The wind wheeled idly around for the rest of the day, puffing at us from every point of the compass but never giving us much bother, and it's been snowing all day, like fine dust.

Other than the weather, there's not a great deal to report. We saw no scenery at all to speak of, and other than both being grumpy at the weather and our recalcitrant heavy sleds, Tarka and I are both fine.

Tarka does have one question to ask the world though, which is why our noses run so much in the cold. They've been dripping like broken taps since we got here. Any ideas?


# CaninesCashews, November 10th 2013

Hi guys, glad you’re out and about again!

I think the runny nose thing is a combination of thermodynamics and physics.
It’s a bit long winded (did you see what I did there?) but here goes…

One of the main functions of the nose is to warm and humidify the air that we breathe so that when it reaches your lungs, it’s nice and conditioned. In order to do this, the nose has to add some moisture to it.
When it’s very cold out, the air is usually dry as well, and the nose is really working overtime to add some fluid. And there are reflexes that are in place that allow the nose to increase its fluid production. And if it really makes a lot of fluid, then it starts to run out of the end of your nose.

On top of that when you get what we used to call huff (breathing out warm air in the cold) where you are condensing air in the cold air, so you see it as little droplets of water. When you breathe that air back out, it comes to the very tip of your nose where the nose is cold and that fluid is going to recondense onto the surface of the nose and that will also run out.

So in effect where you guys are you get a double whammy of biology and physics!!

Hope that eases off a bit and I’m still praying for that following wind.

Stay safe .

# Amy Crawford-Small, November 10th 2013

A total guess on the runny noses, but I’d imagine it’d be something to do with moisture from the warm air from your lungs being condensed as it meets the freezing air ?  Xx

# Reid, November 10th 2013

Maybe your body is sending more blood to keep your nose warmer in the cold air… And that makes your nose run??? Will look up an answer and check back in… I’m just guessing.

# Soulboat, November 10th 2013

Dripping keeps the faucet from freezing.

What is it like when the horizon is featureless, the same in all directions day after day? What happens to your sense of direction; do you feel like there’s some internal compass need for direction, the need to be heading somewhere?  What is it like to be fixated on the task at hand, getting that next tug of the sled to go easier, when there is no markers in the actual landscape?

# nella, November 10th 2013

Hi , i think its cause of the combinatoin of cold outside, warmth inside while you exercise. Thermodynamics for sure

# Kevin Wright, November 10th 2013

Hi Guys
Can’t advise on the runny nose but it seems likely that your other followers have sussed the problem. However I don’t recall other polar explorers or even your selves mentioning this problem while you were training in the Arctic?
Regarding food supplies I recon you are down by one day due to the two half day rations while trapped in your tent. I have a question as I was wondering how much back up supplies you are carrying to ensure you have enough to get back especially as you could face more days when you can’t move especially with this recent bad weather! Lets hope and pray you get days when you can make up for any loses?
Take care guys and Keep Going!

# andrew, November 10th 2013

Tarka, when I was young I wa disciplined on parade by an officer of the Coldstream Guards.He was desperately smart but did have a large nose with a huge bob of clear liquid hanging on it.No matter how much he reprimanded me, the blob remained in perfect control and never dropped. So l think it’s in the training and the angle of the head. He wore a low peaked cap that forced his his head way, way back so he could get a sightline on me. Hope this helps

# Mal Owen, November 10th 2013

Could You Have Skier’s Nose?  Lol
Researchers have a name for a related syndrome linked to exercising outdoors in cold weather: Not surprisingly, it’s called skier’s nose. A 1991 study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that nearly 100 percent of skiers complained about runny noses while participating in their sport.

“Our noses warm and humidify—add moisture to—the air we breathe as it travels down into the lungs. So when you inhale cold, dry air, the moist tissue inside the nose automatically increases fluid production to do its job of protecting sensitive lung tissue. But when there’s too much fluid, the excess tends to drip out, creating a runny nose.”
Cold air also speeds up mucus production, so there’s more stuff up there to drip out. People who exercise in the cold are especially apt to experience runny-nose syndrome “skier’s nose”). The best way to keep your nose normal in the cold? Cover your mouth and nose with your scarf. The air that you breathe in through the material will be warmer and moister so your nose doesn’t have to do as much work.

On a lighter note ... If your nose runs and your feet smell,you’re built upside down !

# Nora Wolfe, November 10th 2013

Every day that I read about your latest adventures, pains and sufferings, I also read all the comments. I just love how funny, smart and concerned your followers are. This whole blog puts a spring in my step every day. Thank you everybody.

# DrJ, November 10th 2013

Ahh, guys. I see all the answers above (most of which are true) but “nose moisture” is a bit more complicated. By that I mean it’s multifactorial. Secretions, position, environment, physiology and emotion all lead to runny or dry nasal mucosae. If we can assume both of your noses came into this juncture completely healthy, normally developed and shaped and without any ‘history’ the explanation becomes a little more simple. [We’re also assuming there’s no outgassing of volatiles from any of your gear or salves etc.]

POSITION: Secretions flow in ‘channels’ made by nasal structures to flow throat-ward and meet those coming from the lungs so they can be swallowed and any toxins can be deactivated by gastric secretions. Have you been bending forward more so their route is altered?  Or have you been exhaling with more force, volume or rapidity which would change their path?
ENVIRONMENT: Empty spaces inside one’s body are dark and humid (they better be). Interactions at the interfaces are effected by ambient temperature and humidity. Are you anywhere that humid air might condense and drip?
PHYSIOLOGY/EMOTION: Nasal tissue works by secreting and swelling in a complicated ‘dance’ caused by vascular pressures, neural impulses and endocrine control. It’s always dancing, even in sleep, and about every two hours normally alternates flow between each side of the nose. Increasing vascular pressure, (i.e. heart rate, etc), engorges the nose. Both sympathetic (drying) and parasympathetic (wetting) autonomic systems fire all the time and many triggers alter the delicate, teeter-totter balance: sunlight, exercise, emotions, stress, fumes, pollution, cold air, change in humidity… aging. Even neural signals during para-sympathetic activities like eating (and other things) can cause nasal secretions. Been doing any of these more lately?

Lets hope they go away when you get home—don’t worry, for most people it does… (except, perhaps, unless you’re British or French - I’ll have to look that part up).

# Mr. Trak Walker, November 10th 2013

As an active athlete, performing above age level, my nose runs periodically every day, regardless of activity or environment; clearly related to both internal and external environments.

# Gina, November 11th 2013

Press one finger on your right nostril and blow real hard out your left nostril, while not letting it hit the Antarctic ground. Repeat on the other side. Do this as needed. You already know this. Hey guys, I was the nurse at McMurdo a couple of times, and I’ve been to Pole. The views from above are pure and brilliant. I can only imagine the unbelievable sites, sounds and sensations you are just beginning to experience on the ground. Enjoy the time of your lives (so far!) and know (especially in blizzard conditions) there’s a bunch of love and awe shining down on you from all over the planet!

# Helen, November 11th 2013

When you’re outside on a cold day, the air in your nose is a lot warmer than the air around you. You know how the bathroom gets steamy when you take a shower? Something similar happens in your nose - water drops come together, or condense. Then the drops mix with your mucus and run out your nose.

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