Day 55–Good Progress

December 29, 2011 7:30pm

December 29, 2011

S84°04.229 E055°07.914

Elevation 11450 feet

One of the best things about bad things, is getting on with it. Because sooner or later, luck turns. And good comes around. The key is to recognize that good and bad are both part of life. Attitude is what tips the balance one direction, or the other. As they say in the movies: life is like a box of chocolate; you never know what you’re going to get next!

It didn’t take long for yesterday’s buzz kill to turn around; today certainly made up for it. Unless you factor the protein bar with the tracings of gasoline which I ate on the trail, that left a lasting taste of petrol flavored burps for the following three hours; my breath was–almost literally–on fire! It is amazing and terrifying how fuel simply penetrates everything; including a sealed, aluminum lined bar wrapper. But as discussed, let’s focus on the positive.

The wind remained through the night and into the morning. Unfortunately, we still had some fuel soaked bags to sort through, and did not get out before 11:30. By then the blowing snow had largely gone, but we still had plenty to fly the big guns. The conditions were slowly pulling back and it seemed that we were headed to the usual afternoon shut down. But the wind simply kept up; it never shut off. We had the modest ambition of ending the day somewhere in 83 degrees; we finished in 84! And this turned out to be perhaps our best travel day of the trip, with 147 kilometers, bringing us to 662 kilometers from the South Pole.

We are now traveling a stretch of the globe that has never seen a man until now. In spite of the simplistic human urge to plant a little flag on unconquered land, perhaps to claim some type of ownership–or simply to say: “I exist”–there is something undeniably exciting, almost mystical, about setting prints where none have been before. In Antarctica especially, it gives the experience the taste of an other world. Of course, practically speaking, not much has changed: the terrain remained pretty shredded for the majority of the day, and my brains still rattles from riding the sastrugi. (Good thing, or my feet, ankle and knees would tell it to go on strike). I was told by the folks at the NSIDC that this region has probably not seen precipitation for five hundred to a thousand years. One noticeable change, and something we have not seen since climbing onto the plateau, are clear ondulations (hills) in the terrain. After eight hours on the trail, the wind was still there. What’s more, at eight knots it was light for the most part on the surface–which made for a warmer day for us, at around 25C below–but the seventy five meter kite lines found stronger fifteen knots air above which kept us moving at a pretty good click: we averaged around twenty kilometers per hour for the entire day. It is encouraging as we are dropping fast in altitude–we have come down over 750 feet since the POI– and this is a classic katabatic set up. A few days like this and we just might arrive at the South Pole by January 11th, my initial ambition, on the anniversary of Robert Falcon Scott’s centennial reach. However nothing says the conditions will hold. But…if they did…we would actually not even need to resupply on fuel at the South Pole (from what we lost in the spill) and we might just close the trip at Hercules Inlet, as intended…

The suspense is killing me!

7 Responses to “Day 55–Good Progress”

  1. Matthew says:

    I’ve got the toast and Marmite ready for your glorious return…

  2. BASILE says:

    WONDERFUL!!!! Enjoy this unknown terrain despite the discomfort.

  3. Fred says:

    “We are now traveling a stretch of the globe that has never seen a man until now.”

    That’s quite a statement.

  4. ceila wise says:

    Well said and beautifully written !!!!! Love love how specific you are ….only helping us identify the the play of the mischevious mind ….so insightful.

    To be the first to print your foot step on unkown terrain is REMARKABLE !!!! WOW! What that must only feel like!!!!!

    x x x

  5. Anne de La Baume says:

    A te lire, par moment on se demande si on est toujours sur Terre ou si au cours d’un sommeil vous n’auriez pas été télé portés sur une autre planète ?!

  6. Great work guys and very impressive. Although I am very miffed by some of the facts which seems a shame. Particularly as Eric’s father visited the POI in 2006….

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