Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 11: Good news: I've got my sled back!

File pic of Howard and sled on his North Pole expedition
84:25.909S 76:44.455W

A pretty productive day today, 26.5 kilometres and most of it because I got my sled back! About four hours into the day the soft snow and plough were things of the past..Well hopefully! I put it down to a certain elevation level, where the main snowfall from weeks back dumped itself. After all this is supposed to be the driest continent by far.

The day was a variety of weather. I woke this morning to a grey day outside, and a light dusting of snow on the tent and sled. I had a bit more light snow, then thee oppressive fog and limited visibility, then a 20 knot (50 km/h) headwind. As usual the wind chill picked up. It seemed a bit colder than I 'd had before, because at one rest break, I temporary froze the toes on my one foot, but unlike normally, I couldn't get it back to full feeling on the ski. I battled for 90 mins, with no luck, so resorted to my real cool (warm!) Forty Below, neoprene overboots. They did the trick, and felt real good... Thanks Joel, they are the right ones, and very easy to fit over my ski boots. (I'm trying quite a novel footwear solution, Richard's idea, and seems to be working well.)

Solo but not Alone takes on new meaning: Way off in the distant horizon today I saw another expedition..! Gee, who could that be? Not Ruth's group as they are about 3 days behind me... It can only be the Norwegian group that started 2 days before me... Hey, that's great news... I thought they would have made time on me. They must have struggled with the snow.

Today was garbage burning day! I have been keeping all the plastic wraps for my food, and it finally started bugging me so we had a little bonfire, and the bad deed was soon done. Pretty good, hey: all my garbage for 11 days fitted into a 'standard' supermarket carry bag. Real sustainable living getting closer!

So comment / questions answered:

Fuel: Yeah, I use about 230 ml of camping fuel each day to make water from ice, and also to cook my breakfast and dinner.

Spares: Weight is a critical part of sled pulling, and each item put in the sled must be carefully thought whether it's needed or not. A few kilograms of extra sled weight make a huge difference n speed and calories needed to pull it. So deciding what spares one takes a long is a very important process, and one cannot use the multi redundancy approach to take out risk. Adventures, by definition 'must' have risk, it necessary but not liked!

Why did I have a shaving razor with me, if weight is a problem? I don't shave on the expedition, but I do know of people who had facial hair frosting / icing problems that caused havoc, so just in case. However more importantly, I'm hoping there will be romance at the Pole, so I better look the best I can... haha!

I finally feel I have a way of life now that is pleasant with it's 'to look forward to' times, sustainable and daily repeatable. At the end of a day skiing I'm totally exhausted, but good, hearty food (Thanks again, Josee!), tent time, and good sleep, I wake as good as I was the day before, and ready to do the job out on the ice.

That's all for today. Short Blog so I can have an extra hour's sleep!

See ya'



  1. Loving your blog Howard, as always.
    You seem to have a rhythm to your days now - well done.
    Question: since weight is an issue, & you've been going 11 days now, have you noticed the sled getting lighter & a touch easier?
    With you all the way. All the very best
    John VJ

  2. Howard, you continue to inspire and motivate. Riveted by your story and journey, it's personal, mental and physical up's and down's, your solution finding for the daily challenges. Brilliant progress so far, and long may it continue. All the best, Ali J

  3. Attaboy Howard!
    And setting a great example bringing all your garbage along with you!
    Not too far to go now?
    Bruce Fish Hoek

  4. Go for it Howard!! Inspiring us all and we love telling everyone we know that you are there and taking up this challenge. Your blog is brilliant and makes us feel very much part of your journey. Graham,Siun, Ben.

  5. Wow Howard, I feel I'm living your adventure as you bring everything to life. First thing I do in the morning and last thing at night is look for your blogg. Really appreciate you sharing so much with us. Such an inspiration. love Maggie

  6. Terry van der RietDecember 3, 2011 at 4:29 AM

    Go H.J.!
    I think of you at times through the day and can only imagine what you are experiencing whilst we go through "normal" life!
    When the going gets really tough think of us willing you on!
    upwards and onwards!
    Terry vdR.

  7. Hi Howard
    So glad to hear you are still hanging in there - we're not ready to lose an uncle and great uncle just yet!! Thinking of you ever day. Lots of love from Sal Bruce Jess and Jen

  8. Hi Howard
    Sitting here in warm Parkhurst reading day 11 with bev reading on my shoulder. Not sure how you felt when your toes wouldnt warm up - must have been a bit of concern. great to hear your equipment and planning really worked. I also think that to see another expedition must have evoked some feeling in you - wonder if it was irritation or a sense of comfort?/ Great blog - keep it coming. Any Chance of some photos?Regards Martin and Bev

  9. Hey Howard
    Loved your comment re 'razor and romance at the pole'..glad your sense of humor is still present....means you are feeling good. Atta boy! Keep it going .cheers janet and chris xxx

  10. Hey Howard
    to get even an inckling of what you're going through I've been watching the BBC programme "thin Ice" about the race to the south pole a few years, you are tough....these guys took strain in teams and there you are all alone out on the ice.
    It must be really special to be truly on your own in such a pristine wilderness....and knowing that Ruth is also out there makes it more so, no doubt.
    Pat and I talk about you every evening and I'll salute you with a good single malt tonight mate....with Athol who's joining us for dinner.

    be safe, Peter and Pat

  11. The BJHS ESL class continues to follow your amazing adventure with awe and wonder. We have added some more information to our wall dedicated to your adventures and look forward to each day as you make your way to the bottom of the earth! Take care and keep your toes warm!

  12. Hi Howard,

    We met briefly at The Snow Farm in New Zealand and feel very privileged to be able to receive your daily updates. You're a real inspiration and we wish you all the very best as you continue your journey to the South Pole.
    Kind Regards

    John & Anne, Brisbane, Australia.

  13. Hello H
    So glad to hear the pole issue seems to be settled for now - don't let the 'frozen extremities' get bad - can't have you leaving parts down there!. Great inspiring reading every day - take care. C

  14. Hi Howard,
    The space you getting into seems to be very good.Well done on accepting Richards idea.Was it the Norwegian group?Did you chat to them or do you stick to the solo concept?Must be strange seeing humans after this time & in the vast county.Like the razor story.
    Comments 14 on Blog,well done!