For the past four days the team has made excellent progress, and I’m happy to announce that Bryony has now passed 81° South, with her current position at http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-81.135266&lon=-081223350 at an altitude of around 1000m. But the past few days have been taxing…
Bryony faces her first full day of whiteout conditions! Being able to see only a few meters on front of you is problem in the Antarctic with Sastrugi (wind-blown ridges in the snow) proving a real problem. Every member of the team fell at least a few times, with their skis hitting these snow drifts and tumbling forward! This was made more difficult for Bryony when her goggles fogged up. This condensation then froze, leaving a 5 pence piece sized hole through which to navigate! After the final rest stop this was rectified, just in time for conditions to clear!
So, would these conditions slow the team down? Travelling 19.5km Bryony managed her longest days skiing yet!
The bad news came from Ronny on the evening of the 2nd. He tells the team of the continued muscle problems he’s faced over the past few days, causing lack of sleep and exhaustion. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that it would be safest for Ronny to be medevac’d back to America to recover rather than risk further injury with more than three quarters of the expedition remaining.
Unfortunately, that caused problems firstly for the planned distance to be covered on the 3rd. Of course, once the medevac was signalled for, the team would need to remain in the same position, awaiting transport in the form of ski-equipped light aircraft. From the initial call at 09:00 (local-time) it took 11 hours for the plane to arrive, cutting short any chance of skiing that day; though Ronny was able to be safely flown out without incident.
Bryony would like to send a massive thanks to Chris of Icke Fitness, who has provided excellent training, nutritional plans, and support; without whom it could have been her on the plane heading home.
With conditions such as whiteouts (which can be more extreme than Bryony faced on Friday) and other complications, the team has allowed themselves three full rest days. Because of this, the team is not necessarily behind. So; what does the team do on a rest day? Well I can only speak for Bryony (and for those of you that know her this will not come as a surprise), you sleep! Catching up on some well needed napping, helping refuel for the next few days. Of course, there was still time for some shenanigans, including a snowball fight, which apparently becomes serious when shovels are involved! I’ve been informed that the snow varies vastly over different areas, not always good for snowballs!
Fantastic progress from the team yesterday, with a total distance of 21km behind them, helped by the previous days rest and superb conditions with very little wind and temperatures around -12°C. The team has also elected to take rest breaks every 5km instead of every 1.5 hours to provide more challenging goals. I’m told “it’s nice to stop and know another quarter of the days skiing is behind you”. Speaking to Bryony in the early hours of this morning she explains that the weather is so nice they have started eating OUTSIDE in the evenings, nothing like a little Antarctic al fresco dining! Hoping to get pictures of this phenomenon soon!
In summary, the team is one man down, but still in high spirits and making good progress! If anyone has any questions of wants more info, just leave a comment and we’ll try and get back to you.