Hi everyone! Bit of a big update, without much correspondence over the past few days, so bear with me!
A Grand Christmas Day – Bryony and the team had planned to reach the resupply on the 26th in the morning to re-organise and repack. In an incredible push however, the team managed a whopping 28km and made it to the resupply on the evening of the 25th, which took only 10.5 hours! Skiing they’re fastest yet really bought the team some time to get organised with the resupply and prepare for the next day. They allowed themselves a little relaxation in the evening with a few treats, involving sweats and vodka, that’s one way to warm up!
A Relaxed Boxing Day – Today the team’s main activity was sorting out rations and preparing the sleds for the next leg of the journey. Ronnie, who left the expedition at an earlier date, had left a number of pieces of kit and food rations, which the rest of the team were able to utilise. The difference between this, and the last resupply, was the ability to leave things behind. This meant the team didn’t have to take all of the food and spare kit, and could drop off any rubbish or old clothes! Bryony may have managed to borrow a few pairs of socks from Ronnie’s supplies after her own were worn through by mis-fitting boots (“we owe you one Ronnie, thanks!”). After a long morning sorting the packs out, the guides decided that the day should become a full rest day, due to the nature of the terrain ahead. Which was (although uphill) something Bryony had been looking forward too!
The Mighty Thiel Mountains! – After a valuable rest the team set off with a difficult day ahead. Having camped at the base of the mountains, the team had to either ski the long way round or ski over them, close to the summit; the idea of which was daunting with a high climb on ice to look forward to. Without crampons this proved difficult, though the team were rewarded with spectacular views of both the mountains and the road ahead to the polar plateau. Even with the long climb and heavy pulks, the team managed a good distance of just over 20km, and camped on the pole-ward side of the mountains.
The Last Ascent – On the 28th the team set off to reach the polar plateau, a trek which will making up the final incline of the expedition. In fact, as the team reaches the pole, they expect a downhill stretch! The skiing went well with the team managing 24km in 10 hours. This was promising, as the team still heavy pulks. I talked to Bryony about what sort of things she finds interesting when she is out there, and over the past few days.
“The mountains have been a major highlight, especially since we were able to do some climbing! There is a lot of time to mull things over though. I have become fascinated by snow and ice crystals. We saw some fantastic formations today”. Bryony tells me of the haw frost (very clear ice formed by the sublimation of water vapour onto a surface) freezing into spinney, shimmering ledges, floating on the leeward side of the Sastrugi.
“Food, it’s still at the front of my mind. I can’t wait to get back to Punta to eat some real food, and drink lemonade!” A number of hints were dropped about future trips to equally exotic places as well as plans for a big birthday bash/congratulations party on her return!
Things are going well, but the team will really have to push to make it by the Scott centenary, but with the pulks always getting lighter, and managing longer distances every day; they have the ability and skill to make it! Best of luck to them! To see the team’s current location, check the tracking page of the website.
Robert, on behalf of Bryony