Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 30: Let free, and a great day's skiing!

88:36.330S 81:21.681W

Elevation: 2 745 metres... Really not much more now!

Well, around 3am this morning the change to the warmth and brightness of the sun woke me, and I knew I'd been set free... A quick peek outside confirmed the storm had passed and I'd be back on the road again! I was so excited, I almost got up straight away and got the day going. Pragmatism took over, as my routines would all be messed up, but I did decide to get up an hour earlier than normal, TO GO!

The storm had definitely left its mark: the windward end of the tent was heavily buried in snow, and some tent pegs were quite a challenge to locate! It was pretty warm, and the wind had switched back to a light SE, so all good signs that things were returning to normal.

Well, the rest of the day went like clockwork: With the fresh layer of snow, there was no debate about using skis, and I was focused, badly needing a 30+ km day! The snow made the surface a touch sticky, not the fastest I've had, but nice and forgiving, so I could push the pace. 1st hour, the GPS showed 3.8km, and 'we' were cooking! No sastrugi in sight, in fact I don't think I saw one of any significant size the whole day... Hopefully this is what 'the plateau' is all about. 11 hours later and 100 skiing hours I'd done 35km! Hey, did the boy feel happy! Just the performance deserving of a whisky! Please have one for me...

The whole terrain was different today, lots of beautiful wind-formed patterns on the ice - gentle, artistic ones, from waves, to small mountain ranges, to minature dunes, none more than a couple of cm high. I stopped quite a few times to take photos of the most interesting patterns.

It is amazing how this Antarctica changes along the way. I'd love to know why there is dense huge sastrugi some places, and yet right next door nothing? It's not just the wind, I think it's ice flow related as well.

Many times today as 'we' were skiing along, suddenly there would be a loud, moving ice-shattering noise coming from right under the sled. Scary at first, but then I got used to it. Seemed like it was a 'resettling' of the ice underneath as 'we' catalysed the process.

Not much else to report. It was just a focused, production day!

Only 154 kilometres to the Pole now! I'm hoping for 26th arrival. Pity about not being there for Christmas, but so be it! I'll have a Christmas similar to 2007, when I was in the middle of the North Atlantic, just me and my yacht... Very special in a strange way! I'm not a big traditionalist in this domain... Had too many when I was living with my parents!

Hey I hope your run up to Christmas is going well... For those going away: Travel safely!

No philosophy today: A rest day! Not sure for whom?? I'll touch on 'Belonging' and 'Identity' before the Pole, so maybe think about these terms as you go about your shopping and wait in the 'mindless' queue!

Hoping for a good recovery tonight and another big kilometre day tomorrow!



  1. Tent bound is only a temporary situation for you, Howard! We are getting so excited here about the countdown to your goal and your blog keeps us talking every day about the things we have all been through and how different we are coming through the other side of these challenges. And you are doing it and telling us about it along the journey - brilliant! I poured away a last drop of whisky in a bottle on the same day to be up there with you! Good on yer mate!

  2. Glad to hear that mother nature set you free once more. Giles

  3. You have to admit the prison warden is really kind! 35km sounds like a fantastic day...not many days left for philosophizing... maybe the prison warden should detain you for a few more days, to get more out of you, for us!!.. joke.. it is wonderful to see how compression and release generate so much joy... hard to remember when one is being relentlessy compressed by circumstances.. have another great day tomorrow..take care..patrick

  4. So excited that you are close to the end AND notching up another one..GO HOWARD!! xx Janet and Chris..about to get a plane to NZ so I'm kinda close to you xxx

  5. hi Howard, your spirits are soaring and it's infectious. I am really enjoying your two journeys. Have a good one tomorrow and I'll have a single malt for you this evening.
    take care....peter and pat

  6. Hi Howard,

    RMC & I are enjoying your trip reports. This one is really tough one. We look forward to your success one more time.

    Best regards !!!

  7. Go Howard go!!! James and Paola x

  8. Sounds like an outstanding day, Howard! Although, I'm not a fan of the ice-shattering noise! I hope to someday see your pictures.
    Sometimes your descriptions make me laugh. The one that comes to mind is "sustrugi army".
    I don't have any whiskey, how about hot chocolate with miniature marshmellows? Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la. Sandy T.

  9. Hi H, good to hear that you broke out of prison! The papers seem to be full of Antarctic stories right now though none as personal as yours. According to a report from ALE there have been 26 different expeditions of 150 people setting out for the pole this summer. You may bump into a few as you get closer to your goal. Amongst the most colourful tales was a certain Helen Skelton (of Blue Peter fame) who aimed to cover part of the trip on a specially adapted bicycle ! Scott would have been horrified. Stay safe and accept our positive vibes for the final few days - T

  10. Well done Howard
    Wishing you Godspeed and wind at your back
    best regards

  11. Hi Howard,
    Well done on the routine.Great 35km!Good day after yesterday.
    Soon you will be down to double digits.