Day 27 Back to making good progress, 25km

So after a few days struggling against the elements, I have been able to get back to making decent progress again. At the start of the day it was still tough: a lot of fresh loose snow was around still, making it hard to drag the sled. But with the wind, the sun and time, the snow gradually became more settled and compact by the afternoon. I was able to push myself to get back to just over 25km. Really did feel like a solid day’s work! Didn’t feel exhausted like yesterday, but felt nicely tired as I put up the tent and the cottage pie for my evening meal was perfect!

Meeting Mateusz

Remember when I started, and Mateusz, a Polish explorer, started at the same time? He had gone off ahead when I started to get my neck problems. I caught up with him today. It was nice seeing him and we chatted a little. He’s feeling unwell and having to take antibiotics for a cough, so is feeling a bit weaker than normal. Things like that just make a tough expedition even harder. Hopefully he’ll feel better soon and be able to get back to full speed. Super nice guy!

Skiing routines and not overheating

One of the mantras from my polar survival instructors a good 10 years or so ago was “If you sweat you die!” It’s one of the main things I try to pay attention to when skiing here. The body is working so hard, pulling the sled, it generates a massive amount of heat and it’s easy to sweat despite the cold. I always try to open up my layers if I sense I am overheating; also pre-emptively open them up-better to be on the cool side of warm! It’s nice knowing roughly what temperature it is outside before leaving the tent as well. This, so you know if you need any extra (or fewer) layers on. It is a hassle adding or removing a layer once you get started especially because of the harness that I wear. This also involves messing with my compass mount, so taking it off and putting back on… can be annoying!

Daily rations on the move

As i mentioned in an earlier post, I have eight ski sessions, four lasting 75 minutes, four of 60 mins (though today I added an extra 15mins to a couple of the afternoon sessions meaning I skied for 9.5hrs in total). Between each session, I have a break lasting 5-10 minutes during which I eat the snacks that I prepared back in Punta Arenas: 200g of chocolate; 2 battle bites protein bars; one chia charge energy bar; 100g of nuts; 80g of dried fruit; plus 30g of peanut M&Ms (essential!!). Plus around 250ml of water from the nalgenes. I have to make sure that I don’t eat everything all at once, to make sure I have enough for the day ahead!

7,000kcal energy use

During the fourth break, rather than a snack, I have the lunch (a rehydrated meal) that I put into a food thermos flask in the morning. It makes for a nice change as I always add a bit more water than I need to, so it’s a good warm soup that’s easy to eat.

It is really so important to keep eating and drinking water, even if you feel like you don’t need to stop. The body literally is craving food and calories and is spending up to 7,000kcal a day. This needs replenishing, constantly!

Other observations!

The sastrugi seems to have diminished quite a bit… Shame they couldn’t have done that during the whiteouts!! There are still plenty littered around, but… for the moment at least… not so bad. Though it’s amazing how quickly the terrain can change.

Colder in Carrbridge!

Still can’t believe how here is so much warmer than Carrbridge! -20C there last night..?! Between -12C and -17C here over the next few days! Why can’t there be decent winters in Scotland while I am there..?! Last year was pretty poor, and now it’s making Antarctica look positively tropical!

Photo: Mateusz! Fancy seeing someone else in a place like this..!

Music of day in head jukebox… Still Pink Floyd, Exhoes am afraid. Such a good song! I dunno but this place seems to make me think of it; that haunting desolate feeling!

Please support Ben’s chosen charity Cancer Research UK

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