Day 37–Paying The Dues

December 12, 2011 12:47pm

December 11, 2011

S79°39.887 E034°08.371

Elevation 11466 feet

The mornings are pretty solemn. Aside from a shared interest in the wind conditions, which can generally be ascertained by the flapping of the tent’s fabric–or lack thereof–we tend to keep to ourselves, and not much is said. We go through the daily ritual of melting snow, filling up the thermos’ with Herbalife protein powder and H3O electrolytes while charging the iPods and other electronics of the solar panels. We stuff the sleeping bags in their respective compression sacks, and little by little pack up the various items that made the tent a makeshift house for the night. We brush our teeth, swallow vitamins and Omega 3’s–again, courtesy of Herbalife–and finally get to breakfast. This consists of homemade granola or oatmeal, depending on the days. Either one become rather insipid after week on ends. The former is like chewing on pebbles soaked in water; the latter like eating cardboard soaked in maple syrup. The eating is also done silently, as is the process of suiting up, which follows. Even while we travel as a team, most of the day is spent alone, almost as a monastic internal journey. And if the morning silence is partly about readying for another day on the ice, like gladiators preparing for the arena, another part is that we simply don’t have much to say! When the tent door is zipped open, the game is on. The chill immediately sets the tone: the sooner we hit the trail, the better–it warms you up. The tent’s contents are tossed out onto the ice, the tent disassembled, and the sledges packed up. Finally we unwind the kites and set them up for take off. We walk the lines back to the skis and step into them. We clip the sledges’ leashes into the harness, puck up the handle and look to each other for readiness. Once acknowledged, we tug on the lines, one at a time–whoever is upwind generally starts to avoid potential tangle–and work the kite up in the air. In moments, the leash tightens behind us and the sledge grinds forward. We plunge the kite into a figure eight to generate power, and just like that, pull away from our former campsite. Not much has been said, nor needed to be. Next stop in two hours.

Today the wind only gave us two sections, and slow though the miles were, we managed–barely–to cover our daily goal with 42 kilometers. Easy math and you got it: an average of ten painful kilometers per hour. In spite of the still nasty terrain, moving got so slow in the end that I almost dozed off kiting!

I have upped our daily average to 43 kilometers as I would like to arrive at the Pole on January 11th, the day Robert Falcon Scott made it there, one hundred years ago (almost a month after Amundsen did). Arriving on the anniversary would have some symbolic significance for this trip. Hopefully, my toe will not get in the way of our plans; I am tending to it but have some concerns. Eric’s altitude cough won’t go away. But on the positive side, my rib seems to be healing, which is great news–feels like a bad bruise, but no more clicking! We have traveled 1235 kilometers so far.

PS. About the update photo: this should answer one of the more common question about this type of trip! Also: plenty of ventilation, terrific air conditioner, and one of the best views money can buy!

2 Responses to “Day 37–Paying The Dues”

  1. Tmac says:

    keep on trucking baby!!!!!!!! solid rockstar status……sending healing energies and good holiday vibes to you and yer partner……keep safe Tmac

  2. Stephan says:

    Sebastian, much love to you brother.

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