Day 54–No More Hot Water Bottle

December 29, 2011 1:00am

December 28, 2011

S82°45.145- E055°40.091

Elevation 12084 feet

One of the small, but not insignificant luxuries on a trip like this, is the comfort of a hot water bottle in the evening. When the tent is cold, after a long day on the trail, to stuff a nalgene bottle filled with hot water into the sleeping bag is a little like the guilty pleasure of chocolate cake and a glass of milk before heading to bed. Or a foot massage after a day spent on your feet.

Unfortunately, after today, there will be no hot water bottles. In fact, hot drinks will be limited as well. We lost ten liters of white fuel. At the bottom of my sledge. Somehow, during today’s travel, one of the fuel container just had it with being bounced around. After the sledge hit one sastrugi too many, it cracked a small hole from so hard object that had traveled beneath it, and contaminated half of the sledge’s contents. This includes clothes, personals, and most importantly, food. Now, the thing about fuel is that it penetrates, and permeates everything. It will leave its signature smell–and taste–with anything it comes into contact with. Besides, the food bags generally have all developed small holes from the bounce, so it only takes for the fuel to simply looks at it for the content to get contaminated. Luckily, this happened in a narrow window of time, between a food break and a photo break, which saved the fuel from soaking absolutely everything. We quickly emptied all the content onto the ice–amidst blowing snow conditions!–and aired it all out. Then we inventoried everything, opening each lunch bag to smell, inspect, and sometimes sample its content. For the final tally, I have lost thirteen lunches, and a twenty day bag of precious Herbalife protein powder, as well as hot chocolate for the remainder of the trip. It could have been worse. With emergency redundancy–five days–it brings the lunch food count to eight losses which, with proper rationing, can be managed. And of course the fact that I will smell like a gas attendant at a petrol station for the rest of the trip. And no more hot water bottle. With five liters and change left, the real pressure is now getting to the South Pole within no more than fifteen days, as we burn a third of a liter per day. Beyond that, we will lose our ability to melt water and cook dinners–you get the picture. We can resupply fuel at the pole, but until then, we will need the wind gods on our side.

The joy of the POI quickly faded. With a very late night, we took our time in the morning. The wind was howling, with blowing snow but we spent some time near Mr. Lenin’s bust to take the necessary sponsor photos–no small feet holding those flags in twenty knots! By early afternoon, we capitalized on the conditions to get us out of there. The sooner we descend in elevation towards the South Pole, the greater the chances–theoretically–of finding consistent katabatic winds; and the warmer it should get. We rigged our thirteen meters for a broad reach tack, and flew out of there. Barely a minute after lift off, I looked back to take in the base one last time; but it was gone, erased from the landscape by the blowing snow. The POI had disappeared, as if in a dream. Lenin was back to his lonesome and frigid exile. Just as it was.
We covered 72 kilometers today, which puts us 809 kilometers from the South Pole, a distance we need to cover in fourteen days, for our timeline–fifteen for our fuel reserves. The race is on.

4 Responses to “Day 54–No More Hot Water Bottle”

  1. Leila and Mathew says:

    Can’t believe it!!! Not fair!!!! But at least there was wind. Hope the wind is like that everyday.
    Leila, Aidan, Francis, Mathew

  2. Marc Benecke says:

    Stay strong my friend! You are the best! Marc

  3. BASILE says:

    Polluted by fuel, there,,, It’s a lack of chance!!! Not funny!
    Good luck for the wind

  4. Penelope Casadesus says:

    What bad luck – not that you seems to getting a lot of it on this trip (luck, I mean)! No hot water bottle! Wow! And I love mine in a heated house!!
    Love as always – your Mum xxx

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