Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 3: Nature shows me a sample

82:47.679S 67:36.002W

Just in case you are wondering why on The Diary map, I appeared to go north, it was because 'they' now have better information as to the exact position under the ice where the line between continent and sea is, and this is further north than was previously thought. So I was dropped off further north than the Start Point shown! This will be rectified. Ok, now for the day's stories:

Well, let me just ask you all to think through all you got to in the 11 hours from your 7h30 to 18h30? Well ALL I did was ski on my huge alone, in nothingness, taking 5 X 15 minutes breaks, that are so cold, and rushed I sometimes wonder if they are worth it! And for all this all I achieved was 29 back wrenching kilometres. I bet you did a huge amount more, and must seriously wonder: "Why he does it?"

Well on top of that Mother Nature decided to present me with a 'plate' of samples of some of Antarctica's weather that awaits:
I left this morning with a 20 knot east wind (crosswind) biting through every open crack and not sealed garment. Bitterly cold with the wind chill, and so I dressed appropriately. As normall happens, I over compensate, so 10 mins into the ski, I have to take off a layer as I can feel I'll soon start sweating. This taakes a few minutes and exposes myself through the changeover!

The wind increases up to 35 knots, but all in all I feel good.... well until the break: All on my own in the middle of nothingness, after 2.5 hours of skiing I stop, and seek refuge behind my sled as I take a drink from my flask, and load up on Josee's lovely fruitcake, and my butter ration. To eat I have to take off my goggles, so I can force my fask mask down till the eye section is at my mouth, so I can eat....The mouth 'hole' isn't big enough. I feel shivering coming on and know it's time to get back on the road...mainly so I can warm up again! By the time I have my skis back on, back pack on, and sled ready my fingers are solid frozen, and ache, my feet are moving that way,, but I know this is 'normal' and I have a blood flow struggle to manage for the next 20 minutes. To incrrease the odds of my body winning, just before I ski off, I do a series of arm windwills that forcee the blood to my finger tips. Quickly grab my poles, and ski off, working like mad to keep the blood flowing to my hands Eventually the pain subsides, and I can feel the battle has been won and it's just time before my hands are back to normal. So that's a polar hey! So why do I do it: After 2.5 hours I just need to stop and sit, rest my body from the trauma! It's noth just worth it it's critical.

Soon after that first break fog started coming in. It went from a lovely blue sky day, to almost no visibility. All I bit disorientating and forcing me to naavigate virtually only on compass, which isn't very user friendly. This lasted for about 3 hours then it lifted, the wind dropped to 15 knots, and then the end of skiing brough perfect conditions where it was so warm I could literally hadd a barbeque outside. Wow, what a beautiful 'evening' its absolutely spectacular, and raised my spirits, probably contributing to the length of this blog....

Also contributing to my high spirits, is the fact that I managed to achieve my goal of a 10hour ski day. Capitulation is nearr now...that point when I accept that this IS my life, skiing 10 hours a day, building my house everyy day, cooking dinner and breakfast everyday, not seeing nor talking to anyone, and sleep being one of my real highs of the day...oh that whisky cocktail too...This is my life, I am one of thhe most unencumbered people on the earth, lots of freedom of choice and I have chosen this life for I had better make the best of it! When one accepts this and starts to 'enjoy' the routine within one's capacity 'capitulation' has taken place and one starts to be powerful and enjoy the journey! I must say this nothingness did have me worrieed yesterday, I seriously doubted whether I would find the capitulation point, but today I had breakthroughs....The secret is to find beacons ahead..targets, and focus on them, and suddenly the nothingness become somethinness. With the morning sun angle many sastrugi become clear beacons shining in the sunlight, so I pick one on my compass course some 4-500 metres off and suddenly with that 'miilestone' I become focused and engaged, and the hours fly by, well not jet sped, probably balloon speed, but at least flying by! And then the fog comes, and destroys this system...oh well, pray for not too much fog! Then afterrnoon sunlight provides the next hole in my strategy: the ice is now largely free of significantt different, standout form... Imagine a terrain to stark that one can't find a suitable beacon within it to use as a navigation reference? I have learnt, and will become much more proficient at finding slightly different tinge patches that I can now use as references, but thhese are quite challenging as ones angle of approach changes....

Ah, the fun of the Antarctic polar expeditioner....

"This sounds all bloody horrendous?" Yes, I agree!
"Why would anyone VOLUNTEER to go through all this?" A really good question....but I believe there is a REALLY good answer from me, an for me, how many others might also find it 'good' I can't say! Tomorrow I'll give you my answer, and let you decide!

With some 876 km still to go the task seems awefully daunting, but luckily much less so than yesterday

I'm TRULY knackereed, my body aches deeply all over, and as I sit here my back rocks back and forth as though it's still being jerked by the sled. So bye, I 'm off to sleep now, with a sun blazing into my tent!

Thanks for the therapy of letting me write this too you... It's been good for me, I hope you find something of interest and fun for you!


  1. Howard you pave the way beautifully to ask the question "why would I do this." You leave us in suspense on pins and needles waiting for the answer. For many religious aesthetics it is for the joy that comes with feeling they have demonstrated their love for God by pushing themselves beyond the limits of any reasonable man and somehow in the process both felt his love and felt worthy of it. I suspect that is not the case for you and am eager to hear what it is. All of this already and you haven't reached the point of capitulation. Wow!

    Bob Nideffer

  2. Hi Howard,
    Well done on the hours,nearing the capitulation & sticking to the plan.Enjoy the description of the reference points.Why do it-suppose the challenge & to establish your own boundaries mentally & physically.Now that the hours are up let hope the mileage improves.