L O U ' S D I A R Y
Day 26 in Antarctica. A good day all round. Clear visibility, an unconcealed sun and light headwind. Over the course of 11 hours Lou makes good progress and covers 14 nautical miles...
Nov 28 2018 -
Good evening everyone…
Reporting in now from day 26 of the expedition. A good day today all round. It was good visibility, the sun was out, there was minimal cloud, and again there was very light head wind, so I was able to make some good progress. I covered over 14 nautical miles today, so I’m hoping to start building on that and really start to up the mileage. That was in 11 hours, so good sort of progress day. The weather’s not looking so great tomorrow but obviously I’ll deal with that when I get to it.
What I thought I’d do now is start describing some of the blocks of routine that I go through out here during my daily schedule. Probably the worst block of routine is the morning routine. It is grim in the mornings. The alarm goes off and you get that sinking feeling. You’re all tucked up inside your sleeping bag, you know it’s at least -25/30 outside and you know you’ve got to go out and do a full day’s slog out in there and it’s pretty grim. The first thing I do when my alarm goes off is, I unzip the inner compartment of the tent. I stay in my sleeping bag initially and reach forward and light the cooker. So I get the cooker going, and start the snow melting process. I’ve got to melt enough snow to rehydrate my freeze-dried breakfast meal, make up a litre of hot chocolate – I drink half of that before leaving the tent – and still two one-litre flasks as well. So I’ve got about two and a half litres then, to drink throughout the day as I’m skiing. It takes quite a while; there’s not that much moisture in the snow out here, it’s a really dry environment.
The whole routine takes about an hour and a half – from the alarm going off to being on my skis and being fully packed and moving. Which is pretty good. It used to take me two hours on SPEAR [the 2016-17 expedition], and I’ve got it down to an hour and a half. I start the snow-melting process, and with the cooker running a little bit of warmth comes into the tent, which is great.
The next thing is that, after about 10-15 minutes, I normally need to go for a number two. Again, super-grim. Probably the worst task of the daily routine. I wouldn’t bother putting my ski trousers on, I’d just dash out in my thermal leggings with my tent boots on and my down jacket on; grab the shovel, dive outside, dig a hole as fast as possible. Some mornings it can be blowy, and pretty cold out there. I’ll do it as fast as possible. Squat, drop into the hole. I actually clean myself with chunks of snow. I don’t use tissue, I just grab some chunks of snow that have come out of the hole that I dug, use those to clean myself and then fill the hole in and dash back to the tent.
It takes about 20 minutes to get your hands back and re-warm up again. Then I eat breakfast, get all that done. Get fully dressed into my proper ski kit – goggles the whole lot – and then fill the flasks. Once that’s all done, outside, lob everything into the pulk and the drop the tent. I can drop the tent now in about four or five minutes – super-fast. Roll that up, that goes into the top of the pulk at the end. Clip into the skis and then I’m good to go. And then it’s an urgent thing to get moving, to generate some body heat and settle into the routine for the day. That’s my morning routine. Next I’ll do my evening routine.
That’s all for tonight.