Flashes of light and olfactory hallucinations

Published on 07.05.2007 - Mars North Pole Solo

Having struggled to reach latitude 87, Rosie Stancer continues to suffer. She reports that the ice is truly dreadful this year. Nonetheless, she remains in good spirits and her excellent sense of British humour is still intact...

After the pains of latitude 85, which she reached on 25th April, Rosie thought that the worst difficulties of her expedition were behind her. Not to be, alas! Two days later, she again had to cope with everything the hell of the north could throw at her. Her support crew wrote this on the 27th after their satellite conversation of the day: "An incredibly tough day for Rosie and one that brought back memories of the beginning of the expedition. An unending stretch of boulders and ridges meant that Rosie struggled to make headway. At each ridge, Rosie would have to turn, grip the rope of the sledge and, with her back braced, use the explosive power of her legs to move the sledge higher. Imagine a gym session of the kind olympic weightlifters do in which one would have to lift 1 and a half times your bodyweight ten times to make a set. Now imagine doing that exercise with that same punishing weight not just ten times but continuously for 12 hours." And the day after: "With head down she spent the first six hours of her day fighting through the boundaries of the ice that had caused such problems the day before and slowly found herself in better conditions. At times though, the only way to get her sledge over some huge piles of rubble was to stand in the dip on the other side and with her body straining fire the sledge up and over the ridge and indeed over the top of Rosie herself in a bid to reach the other side without it jamming in the gap."

Yet even all that hardship has neither dented the plucky Briton's morale, nor blunted her rather gallows sense of humour. As her body is steadily becoming covered with bruises, Rosie reckons that if things go on like this, she'll be able to pass off all of the horrible brown patches the bruises leave for the rather odd tan that you get in the Arctic! And referring to the big bump she managed to acquire on her forehead while crossing a compression ridge, she wonders what interesting information a phrenologist would be able to extract from this latest outgrowth!

Special experiences

And then there are the special individual experiences that she is familiar with after having been through them before in the past when she trekked to the South Pole. Even so, they are still worrying and remain unexplained. From time to time she sees curious flashes of light and smells what she calls 'olfactory hallucinations': the scent of freshly toasted bread that follows her everywhere...

After 60 days on the move, Rosie is now more than halfway to her goal. Having said that, she is well aware that time is running short and that if she wants to reach the Pole while the ice is still practicable for a Twin Otter to land, she will have to pick up the pace. Which is exactly what she is in the process of doing. For the past week or so, she has been marching for between 12 and 15 hours a day, progressing at an average speed of approximately 15 kilometres a day. On 4th May, she still had another 344 kilometres to go...

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