Today has truly been an exceptional day! In addition to walking 29 km since this morning, we were given 5 km northerly drift last night, bringing us all of 34 km closer to the North Pole. It just goes to show how quickly conditions can change out here. The GPS position off our camp is now N84?51’30”, E100?. We have every expectation of reaching 85 degrees latitude tomorrow – and it feels fantastic to now be making that kind of progress!
For the first time we feel that we’re “within the North Pole”. What I mean by that is the ice is older and thicker and looks just like what I’ve seen near the pole itself on previous expeditions. Today we walked almost entirely on old ice, which was nice and even, 100–150 cm thick, and far more stable. Even that can break up and form open leads, but there is far less chance of bothersome pack ice. When we came upon small leads today, we simply found a way around them.
The temperature is now –20?C, as well as the wind factor due to the southeasterly wind of six–seven metres per second. We had a new accident this morning – it was the third time a tent pole snapped. That’s really disappointing, it shouldn’t happen, and it is no fun standing there fixing it in this cold.
There will be no more days of rest until we reach our goal – unless, of course, we have a serious accident or rough weather prevents us from leaving our tent. Time is short, and we really do have to press on as much as we possibly can! Today we walked 10.5 hours, yesterday 11 hours. And we’ve promised ourselves to walk at least 10 hours each day. That’s fine, really; it’s not as tiring to walk on good ice.
The last few days I’ve been having problems with my digestion. The fat content has probably been too high, so in order to give me more variation, Mike and I are swapping half our lunches. I get some of his chocolate, while he is treated to oatmeal with fat and nuts. There is no distracting hunger, so we’re obviously eating enough – and that’s certainly an advantage when we’re putting in long days on the ice.
We saw polar bear tracks today, several days old. Judging from their size it was a young bear. But those can actually be more dangerous. You encounter them where you don’t expect, because they don’t have the experience of older bears.
We’re hoping the weather report will tell us that the southeasterly wind will continue. That should give us yet another good day tomorrow.View 3 comments