Cautious perseverance on their coldest day

Published 11.03 in category North Pole 2006

Today was much more drudgery than yesterday. The ice was drifting southwards an average of 300 metres every hour. We’re not really aiming at a specific date; our goal has always been to give it our very best shot. The hardest part so far were the weeks in darkness on the ice outside Cape Arktichesky at the start of the expedition.

Now we’re just continuing to do what we’ve done all along – to press onward to reach our destination as quickly as possible. That is why we’re stretching our days. And that’s really our whole plan. Conditions can change so incredibly quickly here in the Arctic – suddenly the weather can change or our equipment cause problems.

Today was just such a day, on the very edge of what is manageable and safe. It was –38?C, and that’s not taking into account the wind factor. All day we were chilled by a 3–4 metre per second wind from the north, and we’ve been walking against it for 12 hours. On a day like this, there is no room for even one stray thought. Mike and I have been fully concentrated on surviving, each and every hour, keeping our bodies and limbs warm enough and avoiding frostbite.

When we’re walking for such a long stretch we become tired, and it is very easy to make a fatal mistake. So we have to be very careful. Mike had problems with his fingers at the end of the day. It went fine – no frostbite. But if temperatures are just as cold tomorrow, and a northerly wind on top of that, we’re going to have to cut the day short. We simply have to adapt to the situation. That’s just the way it is.

This expedition has everything in it. We have far to go. Tonight’s position is N87?24’25”, E90?35’39”. That leaves 290 km to go to Pole.

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