Tuesday Dec 7th, (Dad’s 60th birthday and our initial target date for the pole)
The weather report came in at 8am this morning saying that the wind will persist for another 24 to 36 hours, I was so frustrated I did scream this time. We’ve been pinned down by the weather at 41km from the pole for the last 36 hours and now we may have to wait another 36 hours before we can move again, the news couldn’t have been worse. Here’s where we stand, if the wind dies down by 8 am tomorrow morning and we punch out two 20km days back to back which is very doable we can catch a flight out of the pole the evening of the 9th arriving in Union Glacier in time to catch the scheduled Ilyushion flight out of Antarctica to Punta Arenas Chile on the 10th. If the wind takes 36 hours to subside, and we choose to go for the pole on foot we won’t get to Union Glacier on time to make the Ilyushion flight and the next flight out of there is on the 14th, so it really is decision time.
At breakfast this morning the decision had to be made…
Waleed: “The forecast says that the wind will persist for another 24 to 36 hours, and the way I see it we have one of three options. I am a great believer in the democratic process… as long as it doesn’t interfere with my plans so here are our options:
1. Abort the pole and get the Basler to pick us up and take us to Union Glacier in time to make our flight off the continent.
2. Get the Basler to pick us up, fly us to the pole then on to Union Glacier again in time to leave Antarctica on the 10th.
3. Wait for the weather to subside, do the last 41km on foot, assume we will not make the flight on the 10th and leave Antarctica on 14th, in which case all other flights and connections need to be adjusted.
Those are your options gentlemen, I vote for holding out till the weather clears and going for it, I’ll be damned if I’ve come this far not to finish it”.
The vote was unanimous, everyone voted to wait for the weather to clear and go for the pole.
Being out here definitely has its effect on you though, at the beginning of the trip I inventoried all my clothes to determine how often I could change certain items of clothing, from socks to underwear, to thermal pants and tops etc… I remember when I first got out here I couldn’t wait till the next day to put on a fresh set of under garments. Now I’ve simply resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be filthy regardless of what I do, and considering the fact that warmth is at a premium and is our most precious resource out here, I would rather keep on the set of warm clothes that I’ve been wearing for the last five days than pull out a set of frosty clean ones from my frozen duffel bag that would only serve to send me into a violent fit of shivering and serve no other real purpose. I just hope that when I get back to the real world I manage to regain that touch of civilization which I seem to have lost out here.
The wind really does make it a miserable existence out here though, last night I slept with my thick thermal socks covered by my down booties, thermal pants under my fleece pants, thermal top under my thick fleece top, woolly hat, neck gaiter and gloves, all of this inside my down sleeping bag that is rated to -40 degrees C, and I still had a chill in my bones, it was miserable. And if that wasn’t enough it started snowing in the inside of our tent if you can believe that, not because there was a rip in our tent or a zipper was left open, but because we’ve spent so much time in here that our breath condenses and freezes on the inside of our tent and over the 36 hours that we have been here it has built up, then the wind blows hard, shakes the tent and in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping I get very fine ice particles falling on my face, wonderful, really I highly recommend for everyone to visit the polar plateau.
But when all is said and done, with all the complaining set aside, I really am fortunate to be down here with the group that I’m with, they really are a great group of guys and even my brother who in the past no two consecutive days could go by without us having a fight, we haven’t argued once since we’ve been on the polar plateau, we’ve been on the plateau for seven nights now and in fact it’s been nothing but team work at the highest level for that duration.
It really has been amazing being out here though, I’ve gotten closer to Baba and Mohamed than ever before and that within itself has made it all more than worthwhile.
Let’s pray we can start moving tomorrow morning.
Current position, still, 70km traveled, 41km to our destination.