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.
N68° 55' 39.2", W029° 43' 08.1"
Duration: 9 Hr
Yesterday was unusually tough, which is why this didn't get written last night. We set out in the morning with a mere 12 km to cover before getting back to the point we'd agreed to rendezvous with our ski plane today (Tuesday).
12 km is less than half the distance we aim to cover in an average day in Antarctica, so neither of us expected to find it an unduly difficult day, despite knowing we had to get through a crevasse field in the morning and ascending 500-odd vertical metres before reaching the plateau we're camped on now.
Greenland clearly had different ideas, however, and while the cloud stayed away enough to let us in to the crevasse field, we soon found ourselves walking blindly in a complete whiteout. Thankfully most of the big holes were filled in with snow, but we both had our fair share of heart-stopping moments as areas of loose-packed snow and the occasional snow bridge settled a few inches with a petrifying 'whoomph' as the ground seemed to give way beneath us.
Once we'd stumbled through that, we found ourselves faced with a Sisyphean drag up a long glacier covered with some of the deepest, softest, stickiest snow I've ever encountered. With skis off we sank knee-deep and with skis on our sledges seemed to have quadrupled in weight as we toiled away up the slope, leaving a foot-deep trough behind us. In all it took us more than nine hours to get to our pick-up point, with the clouds finally parting as we pitched our tent at eight in the evening. And as is often the way up here, the weather today is glorious.
We're expecting our Twin Otter ski plane to arrive at lunchtime, and we fly this afternoon to Constable Point in Greenland to refuel, and then on to Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland, before heading back to the UK on Wednesday. It's been an incredibly useful trip and I'll write a bit more tomorrow about what we'll be doing differently in Antarctica as a result.