Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 26: A Cold windy day... 31.5 km though!

A crevasse seen early in the expedition
87:44.702S 82:30.486W

Perfectly on track for the Pole! Compass bearing from my camp the day before was 128 degrees for the Pole, and 128 degrees is what I did today! Well it's not easy to do that all the time, hey! Dodging all thee sastrugi, dosing off, and compass alignment error all make it not a perfect science. Obviously the straighter on course I can go the less distance I have to travel, so the incentive is big!

Elevation: 2503 metres... Just on 200-250 left now... Great, the hills slow me down!

Well the rest did me good. I seemed to have a new 'timeless' approach, and my speed was faster. I dropped the rigorous set march time schedule, and rather went with how I felt, but trying to have as long marches and least breaks as possible. It worked well.

I woke to an almost windless morning and was congratulating myyself on the good choice of rest day... Hmm, the SE crosswind returned an hour after I started, and it's still blowing as hard, if not harder than the rest day. Oh well, at least I could pack up and take the tent down in quiet conditions! By the sound of the wind tonight, I'm not sure that will be the case tomorrow... Hold thumbs!

Early into today's march, I put my foot through some thin ice, and my whole right leg disappeared into blue oblivion, until my crotch and the hole size prevented me going any deeper... Quite amazing when all around the ice looks aged, thick and very stable.

This crosswind, about 70 degrees off a direct headwind, was quite challenging today. Firstly the windchill is quite serious, annd secondly the constant battering wears on one, so by the end of the day I felt mentally drained. Anyway, this was the weather I expected all the way from the start, but I actually haven't had it too bad. I could imagine that this is the weather of the plateau, so I'd better get used to it!

The terrain today was largely uninteresting, just the normal range of sastrugi, although my sled did tip over quite a bit today. Maybe 'reckless' driving.

250 km to go now... I need to just put in soid 30+ km days, and all will be good! Focus, focus, focus....

My fingers are quite sore from cold damage, and tonight trying to pickup individual matches to light the stove was a challenge. Funny how we take this finger feeling for granted, but without it the finger isn't much good!

Feet are off the concern / worry list, so that good. The change to walking sorted it.

So, how are festive season preparations / activities going... Christmas shopping, year end parties etc... GEE, I'm right out off it... Hmmm, not sure I'm missing most of it!

That's all for today. I feel exhausted, and needing some regenerative sleep. It's like being in a sandblasting room. Hope I sleep well!


  1. Eish, Howard, I'll send you a cyber massage of hands and feet while you sleep ( i hope you are able to sleep despite the wind) The hole in the ice story raised the hair on the back of my neck. You take extra care out there and my thoughts are with you. I am cooking dinner for one of the Polar Five pilots tonight, you might meet him at the Pole. Keith Krueger. he is flying out to Antarctica during the week. Huge hug coming your way and good luck for the day ahead. Lynn

  2. Hello Howard.
    you're sounding very strong and able. Sleep is a friend!
    Keep on trucking and keep on posting and look after your crotch. You'll be needing it! :D

    Warmest haha regards.

    Empire Dave

  3. Hi Howard
    Well done on the rest day - you sound very tired and it was a good thing to do. listen to your body and take things easy. You now seem to be over the hill mentally and now firmly believe you can do it. Keep the focus now - its very important not to let this slip now. All thinking of you in Joburg

  4. If I would have fallen through the ice as you did, I would have called for a helicopter and gotten out of there! My heart fell as I read it. Good to keep your calm, but I'm still shaking!
    The picture of the crevasse is beautiful, calming and exciting. I love it. No more wading, Howard! Sandy T.

  5. Howard, you are one cool dude!
    i would have had a thrombie if my leg had gone through the ice.
    be glad that you're missing the christmas holiday thing.....hout bay is swamped with holidaymakers....all good for the shop owners but a nightmare for anyone wanting to go shopping. They are local Kaapies as well as upcountry folk and i'm glad that the weather is making it fun for them.
    this is all so mundane compared to what you are experiencing.
    take care....peter and pat

  6. Hi Howard, Your inner strength and calmness is amazing would have you on my team anytime.... look after yourself this next week will truely miss your blog when you reach the pole... big hug Lindy

  7. Howard .... you're a legend .... absolutely fascinating following your progress. Discussed your adventure with friends (Dave Pearse and Pam Richardson) last night over dinner. Inspiring stuff ..... please take care and look out for those holes in the ice (they worry me) .... vasbyt - regards from Hans and Joy in Durban

  8. Keep it going Howard ...keep those fingers ..they're kinda useful!
    LOVE the blog ..hugs Janet and Chris in SoCal xxx

  9. Hi Howard,
    Well done on the height reduction.Am a firm believer on listening to the body.Well done on the feet.Great mileage.