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.
N69° 11' 36.3", W030° 17' 12.5"
Temperature: -16 °C
We ticked a couple of big boxes today, both by complete fluke. The first was stumbling across a few acres of blue ice, rock hard and snow-free thanks to the wind. We'd spotted little patches and hummocks of ice when we were out here last year, but nothing this big.
Apparently there's been a 40-year record low amount of snow cover on Greenland's east coast this year so that might have had something to do with it, and the peaks surrounding us certainly look pretty bare compared to 12 months ago. Blue ice is something we'll see a lot of in Antarctica, as we climb and later descend the Beardmore glacier. Today was just a little taster, but it allowed us to practice pulling sleds over a hard, polished surface wearing crampons rather than skis. Henry Worsley - someone who has plenty of first-hand experience of the Beardmore - advised us to take steel crampons, and ours are made by Kahtoola. They seem great for now, but we'll repeat the abuse we gave them today on our way back to our pick-up point at the end of the week.
The second chance encounter was with a giant crevasse, something else we'll be negotiating on the hundred-odd miles of the Beardmore. Most of the crevasses we saw last year were almost completely filled-in with snow, but this one could have been made for us to train on (and in) as one side is blue ice and the other is a crumbling snow edge. And the piece-de-resistance, my mum will be glad to hear, is that not only can we see the bottom, but at one end there's an enormous snow ramp that means we can actually walk in and out of it, about three storeys below the surface of the glacier. We camped about a kilometre away but will be heading back tomorrow to practice rescuing each other (and our sledges). I'll send a photo tomorrow night as it's an impressive hole.
For now, there's freeze-dried beef and ale stew about to be served, and life in the tent doesn't get much better than that...