Day 48 – Christmas in Antarctica
Lat 76.25 South
Long 53.37 East
3,646 km travelled
1547 km to Thorshammer
150 km to Novo
Fuel remaining – 4 bottles
Food ration remaining – 4 weeks
Christmas Dinner – Organicly sourced ancient glacial water
Back Country Cuisine spaghetti bolognaise
2 x rations chocolate
My tiny little red tent has been my island in a frozen sea for what seems like an age. The isolation definitely more palpable waking up this morning in a frozen, inhospitable world on Christmas Day (12 hours behind Oz). I spoke to family thanks to Pivotel/Iridium last night. I thought of everyone back home hot on the beach as I fumbled the flint with frost damaged hands getting the stove going to warm my frigid world. I hoped everyone had a good day.
I had considered a rest day out of respect but in the end favoured making some distance towards Novo and then taking the afternoon off to reflect, rest, repair gear and charge batteries.
The wind was light and sastrugi back in force as I slowly inched towards the coast. Spinning and cajoling the kite to drag my sleds and I over this mad field of broken ice. I am hoping that as I approach the edge of the plateau that the wind will become more reliable. I managed 51 km and stopped for a well earned Christmas break. In 48 days I have had two no-travel days.
This morning I had had two inspections, one of my knee and one of the sleds. My knee had protested a little but was by and large healed overnight. Not so the sleds, the huge impacts they have endured for close to 4,000 km now, vast distances crossing the sastrugi grain have taken their toll on the Kevlar. Cracks are forming on both sleds where the bow meets the main body, both port and starboard. Ironically my sled repair, fixing damage that sled 2 had received in transit from Oslo,Norway has held but multiple cracks and tears are developing along its beam. I have no material for sled repair.
I had foreseen this possibility way back in the planning stages as during my 2013/2014 Polar Journey my sled had suffered and only just made Hercules Inlet, the end point. My cunning plan was to place the damaged sled within the better sled, repack gear into a single sled and proceed. The issue is, both sleds are similarly damaged.
I will just have to be more careful with impacts, possibly fly smaller kites and go slower until I reach better ice and just hope and pray they can hang on as can I for another 1,500 km !
Christmas Day is a special day, I must say it’s a tough day as a solo traveller on a frozen sea. I am glad it has come, but I am also glad it is passed and I now with more caution and focus push on towards Thorshammer, Novo and home.