Day 26 Taking the bad with the good and a short day

Okay so today wasn’t a great day. It was a day that lasted all of two and a half hours.

I knew it would be hard, with constant snow over “night”, the continued whiteout, the invisible sastrugi! But it wasn’t fun either.


The snowdrifts – also invisible until you ski into them – often went up to my knees, and the sastrugi (though not so many as many were buried under those same drifts!) we’re still lurking. It seemed like I was spending a massive amount of energy, going nowhere fast. And oh yes, Sledmund was not being very cooperative in the midst of all of this!

So, after a bit of a nasty fall which left me sprawling on the floor for about a minute or so before I could bring myself to get my skis off and back into my feet, I called it a day. I felt the fall through my neck and shoulders, and it wasn’t pleasant for sure! I managed 6km in that time, which felt like snail’s pace and I was exhausted. (Listen to Be’s audio blog for further description of the conditions)

A short day

I hate “wasting” days like this; frustrating for sure. But I think my body is grateful. I have been making decent distances over the last nine consecutive days, so the extra rest is nice. And the extra time will help me recover further to continue onwards. There is plenty of more work to do, and still time. I heard that at least one other team nearby didn’t make a move today because of the conditions, which helps me feel a little better about the decision as well. It has been nice, just chilling out in the tent, sleeping and listening to audio books.

I can hear the snow outside again, which makes me dread tomorrow’s conditions! Though apparently, according to the Garmin InReach weather forecast, it’s meant to clear up and have some sun tomorrow, which will be nice as at least I’ll be able to see the obstacles!!

Morning routines and water for the day.

Generally I get up around 6am. Once I psyche myself up to get out of the sleeping bag. It’s quite hard taking the eye mask off and immediately that bright Antarctic light comes streaming in! I quickly put on my light down trousers and jacket, and get the stove lit. I just boil water from one of the thermoses straight away so I can make my breakfast. Breakfast is normally one of several different types of porridge or granola. There is also the choice to have scrambled egg and caramelised onion! Once the water is added to that, I pour the water from my two nalgenes and remaining intyo my  thermos. I then add some extra snow into the kettle. Altogether I need to have 4 litres of water for them and in addition an extra half litre to add into my food flask for lunch. I also have an additional half litre just for some drinks before heading off. And brushing teeth of course.

Once eaten breakfast and the kettle is heating up, I sort out the tent and all the stuff sacks that I had brought in overnight. And pack up the sleeping bag and bedding system. I just need to get everything ready so once the kettle is boiling, I can turn off the stove, fill the bottles, and be ready to leave. I also need to change into my outdoor layers; swapping my down trousers for lighter windproof layers, and get my big outdoor boots on.

Toilet arrangements

It’s worth mentioning (am sorry!!!) that of course, toilet needs to be done as well! Fortunately, my bowels have got into a rhythm that I can… relieve myself before heading out. I didn’t mention when talking about the tent routine that when I dig the kitchen pit at night, I always make one end of it much deeper than the other. That’s so I can do my business there and then cover it all over with snow. So much better in the vestibule than outside!! Seriously, one of the main causes of frostbite is people going to the loo, with all the exposure to the cold entailed. Not fun!!!

Taking the tent down

That’s about it. Taking down the tent is relatively straightforward. You just need to push all the snow off the snowflaps with your feet, definitely not shovel as you’ll cut the tent!. Then take the pegs out, leaving the ones on the wind facing side in until last and it’s almost all done and then roll up the tent. Get everything into the sled; harness on; compass mount on waist… and you’re good to go!

Photo: a fine view of the void outside!

Advent calendar liqueur of the day: Cointreau

Song of the day: sorry, no tunes went into head today as just trying to concentrate on getting out of snow drifts! Then listened to more chapters of Children of Dune once tent was back up! Loved the joke JoJo Ha ha.

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

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