Antarctica Blog - Day 20 - 6th January 2013


Hi guys.  I woke up yesterday morning feeling tired but still really positive and happy.  After going to bed in perfect conditions I woke up and it was pretty cold.  I looked out of the tent, the light was pretty flat, cloud cover was quite low but it seemed okay.  I packed everything up as normal and within 30 minutes in to my first 2-hour tab of skiing it had gone from flat light to complete whiteout and it was horrific going.

I tried to ski through it feeling really optimistic, keep going one step at a time telling myself that every step is a step closer to the pole and all that mantra.  But my ski’s were all over the place, I couldn’t see the sastrugi I was on, couldn’t see anything.  I had my first break at 2 hours, composed myself, and tried to keep myself going.  In the third hour I started to feel really bad, I had vertigo symptoms and felt nauseous.  I was absolutely boll*cksed.  Every step I took it felt like I had another pulk strapped to me.

It was mentally draining too because I had such an internal dialogue going on.  I wanted to carry on knowing every step is a step closer to the pole but on the other hand I knew I needed to rest so I made a really tough decision to stop coming to the conclusion that resting was more efficient.

Mentally and physically it was totally draining.  I pitched the tent and just passed out.  In the middle of my sleep (I can’t really remember doing this as I was half asleep, I guess a bit like sleep walking, I wasn’t completely with it) I ate all my food for the day period.

I have been really disciplined when it comes to food up until now and I pride myself on this.  When you are really hungry in the day and you just have to eat a flapjack as a snack, sometimes it can be tough but I am normally really disciplined with my food but in my half sleep I gorged my way through my entire supply of day food.  I woke up about 3 hours later, annoyed with myself when I realised I had eaten all my food but I could see a horizon and the weather system was clearing so I knew the system was moving over me so I packed the tent up and tried to make up some time.

I skied for 3 hours in the morning and just under 3 hours later into the evening and covered 20.7km/12 miles.

I was absolutely shattered, had no energy in my legs, even as I pitched the tent in the evening and walked around the tent I was wobbly and tired.

By normal standards 21km is still a good haul but it wasn’t my best day and not up to my normal standard I have set myself, so I decided to re-arrange my pulk, sort my rubbish out, have an early night and today I feel much better.  I feel rested and conditions look better outside the tent, clearer skies.  I have spent the last half hour doing some yoga because my muscles are so sore and tight.

Yesterday was easily the worst day of the expedition.  Not just in kilometres made but in fatigue, moral and psychological strain.

Today is a new day though and I am celebrating the little things as per one of my new year’s resolutions!  I have some more energy in my legs and have good conditions.  I am having a cup of coffee ready to speak to Roy Noble on BBC Radio Wales, you’re probably reading this after this has happened now (we will post the iplayer link tomorrow).  I think yesterday was the halfway point of the expedition, it was nice to hit that marker, a long way to go yet and just focusing on each day at a time.

Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 562.52km/349 miles.  

Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 158.25.