Day 13 81 degrees South and a record 20km day.

A hard but rewarding day. This is really a nice landmark to reach! I started off at S80 degrees, and had been slow and literally tortured progress. Sometimes it has just been so hard and undermining the confidence with the pain and the enforced rest days. The neck pain remains with the number of painkillers left in the kit going down quite a lot! I had to take one tonight; would have liked to have taken two but have to ration myself. But anyway, back to the point… the landmark! Feels really great to make it this far. I have to travel 10 degrees in total, so there is plenty more to do. The first degree is so hard with all the climbing up from sea level and avoiding all the crevasse fields. It was good to do it today with another personal record and a daily distance of 20km travelled! Super happy with that. Hopefully will be able to really start speeding up over the next degrees and get those miles in.

Today started off well. I did more than 3km in the first hour but then it clouded over and it seemed to get steeper. It was hard to see all the fresh snow patches. I called the snow puddles yesterday but that doesn’t do them justice. Today it was more like snow swamp!! These conditions slowed everything down. In some of the patches I would sink down at least a foot into the snow even with the skis on. Then dragging the sled through that. Oh, and the patches were so deep they would often hide the hardened compact sastrugi beneath. I’d end up running into them, losing balance and taking the occasional tumble! Fun!

Sir sledmond hillary

A word about Sir Sledmund Hillary the Sled! A sturdy steed! He’s 210cm long and around 50cm wide in the middle and 40cm deep. As a result he has a lot of carrying capacity. Without anything in, he’s 9kg or so. At the start of this journey, including the weight of my daily water supplies (I melt snow every day for water) and gas, it was around 135kg. Sir Sledmond definitely needs to go on a diet! I guess around 13 days have gone so he’s probably lost around 17kg or so, which helps. The sled is designed to effectively float over the snow patches… which I guess it does, but it’s still tough!! Sledmund has been around the world already! Made by Icetrek in Australia, I picked him up in Svalbard. Of course, he came back with me to Scotland before flying over to Chile and now Antarctica. A well-travelled Sled! Hopefully we’ll make it to the Pole together… it’s a love hate relationship really. Sometimes I am cursing him and the way I have to really push myself to pull him over obstacles. However at the end of the day he’s a loyal Sled! Arise, Sir Sledmund!

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