Cumulative distance travelled: 239 miles
Distance still to go: 483 miles
Hours on skis: 8 hrs
Temperature at Thiels: -29C
Wind at Thiels: Gentle breeze
Of note: Picture shows Shackleton’s Hut (with thanks to Google), how Carl and Lewis must be dreaming of a shelter like this, with 4 solid walls, a stove, somewhere to sit down. Lewis had considered taking a chair but decided it was too heavy, not being able to ‘sit’ is a real problem on an expedition. Sitting in the tent the only place to be in on the roll mat and sleeping bag, anywhere else and your bottom will freeze. A chair is something he said he would really miss.
Also a bit about the practicalities of their days 2-3 hours need to be spent each day melting ice for water, this is usually done in the evening and the bottles kept in the sleeping bags, otherwise they will be frozen by morning! Getting the tent up and down takes about 30 mins and is a dangerous time for frostbite as the sweat that has built up during the hard ski-ing begins to freeze. Also delicate jobs cannot be done with 4 layers of gloves, so they come off, maybe down to one or two and as a Ranulph Fiennes found to his cost when he took all of his off for a few seconds to deal with a boot – can lead to frostbite in no time.
When they are ski-ing, or ski walking up the steep sections or sastrugi, they take it in turns to lead for an hour each. At the end of each hour they stop, briefly so as not to get cold, to have a drink and snack. Lewis chooses to pull his pulk with a rucksack so that his water and snacks are easily accessible.
As the miles clock up for Carl and Lewis one can begin to think that maybe this Antarctic lark is quite pleasant, but I think that is only occasionally true, on the odd calm day with with nice view. The majority of time it is a slog, an effort to get up, muscles burning. lungs bursting, cough hacking.
One of the other expeditioners on the same route as Lewis and Carl (an American trying to use a fat wheeled bike to get to the pole), said this about Dec 17th “Today was everything I had told people that it would be. Cold, uphill, 20-30mph headwind in the snow” and for the past 3-4 days he has signed off like this …
“Once again it’s been the hardest day of my life”. I can’t help thinking Lewis must be thinking exactly the same thing.