Day 30–And on that day, they rested too…a bit

December 4, 2011 5:21pm

December 4, 2011

S77°09.648 E021°01.660

Elevation 11272 feet (3436 meters)

Today marks a month that we have been on the ice, and one third of the mission. Progressively, we have adjusted to the harsh environment. Early November in this part of Antarctica is cold, and at the altitude we are traveling, even colder. The first two weeks are a shock to the system. Humans are not wired to live with limited resources in environments where the average temperature is minus 30C without wind-chill, and the only element outside of air is ice. For the last two weeks, there have been no birds flying overhead, nor will there be until the final week of the trip. No contrails in the sky; no people; no organisms of any sort. In short, nothing to anchor a familiar reality around you as a reminder that you are not alone. The fact is–you are alone! Within millions of square miles. While many uncertainties prevail for the remainder of this trip, the mental threshold of doubt, insecurity, and fear of failure is behind us. There is nothing quite like the ice to make you doubt yourself, and expose your vulnerabilities. It humbles you, and perhaps that, too, is one purpose for such a mission. A stop when the winds whip up means a rapid cool down of the system. Eating commandeers blood away from the extremities and to the stomach to process that new energy. It typically means that hands get cold and sensation is lost to the fingers. Facial systems freeze while off for eating and becomes challenging to set back on; when it does, frost seizes the face. The combined effect can be disorienting, and to some extent paralyzing. Feet are often cold, and all is left is the will to push you forward, for another round. There is no vanity. Just the stark reality that you, and you alone are holding the reins of your life in hand, and to let go carries meaningful consequences. In the course of the last few weeks, I have often questioned what I am doing here. Though I remember contemplating the same on prior expeditions, it did not help; I thought perhaps this time was the one: too big, too old, and under qualified. In reality, most of the challenge takes place inside you head. That is where the battle is waged. With good preparation, and good equipment, eighty percent of the trip is mental. And if you can get past the initial hump, what is left are the two laws of perseverance. Law number one: take one step forward. Law number two: continue walking. If you cannot continue, refer back to law number one…

The northeasterly wind was so marginal this morning, that it seems as though today was a forced rest day. I woke up at 6:30, and this time decided to let Eric sleep. By mid morning, the situation had not changed but we decided to give it a shot. The kites barely lifted off the ground and as we crawled forward, no amount of music could speed up the two hour sections. There were times when we moved so slow, it might have been faster to walk. I chose to accept it; as always: you cannot get mad at the weather! In the middle of our second section, the wind simply died. We were in the tent by 15:30. Outside the air was still, and the sun in full glory. Without wind, the 20C below actually felt pleasant–all things being relative–and I went for a stroll. This confirms that for where we are, and unless a system develops, the best travel is early morning. Brrrr! We barely managed 34.5 kilometers today but we did have the afternoon off!

4 Responses to “Day 30–And on that day, they rested too…a bit”

  1. Karin says:

    You two turn into my personal heros. What you do is superhuman 🙂

  2. Joe Robinson says:

    Been reading about this trek everyday; very good to know you guys are a third of the way through. Sounds incredibly exciting, but also awesomely vast. i am sure the midway point is on your mind.Press on my friend. Completely amazing journey! Our thoughts and best wishes are with you.


  3. BASILE says:

    Fascinating as usual… Continue, please! And I cannot wait to see pictures you’re making for now!
    Je suis impatient de voir les photographies que vous réalisez en ce moment…
    Best wishes

  4. Harry Golbach says:

    Thanks for Sharing… we celebrated a guru rinpoche tsok yesterday and our whole sangha prayed for
    More and stabil wind.. for you Guys. Keep going

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