Forwards by day, backwards at night…

Published on 23.03.2010 - Northpolechallenge.co.uk

As with all the other teams, Dan and Amelia are currently having to cope with powerful negative drift. Broadly speaking, the distance they cover during the day is being eaten up again at night. Arrgghhhhhh, says Amelia...

Like the other teams and particularly Christina Franco, Russel and Darley are treading water, as it were. On 20th March, Amelia wrote that they were drifting south at about the same speed as they were progressing north! On 21st March, Franco noted that the overnight negative drift had taken her back to the position where she had pitched camp not ONE, but TWO days previously!

These delays are raising the question of the time the teams will still take to reach the North Pole. Most of them have agreed that for getting home again, the best thing to do is call on Boyarski's Russian logistics support camped at Barneo (not so far to come to pick them up, and hence less expensive), rather than call in a Twin Otter from Resolute (over a distance of approximately 800 km). But reading between the lines, the pace at which the expeditions are moving means the date of 26th April is going to become a problem. Dan and Amelia, for example, are advancing at an average speed of 5 nautical miles a day, which doesn't have them arriving at the Pole before 21st May! Added to this is the fact that Ken Borek's pilots are becoming increasingly cautious each year about flights late in the season – courtesy of the melting sea-ice – because they know that finding a suitable landing site close to the Pole is often virtually impossible by that time of the year.

On March 19th, Dan writes about the mental side of this : "We have trained (physically) for almost two years for this which helps us immensely but I completely believe that the mental side is 100x more important. You can be the strongest / fittest guy in the world but if you cannot find the will to push yourself when the going gets tough then you've no chance. I've had my hands so cold for so long it almost brings me to tears, my back aches constantly, each morning my toes start cold and are desperately painful from bashing the end of the boots, as well as an number of more transient gripes, but I just persuade myself to get on with it. Every day there is a moment when I am warm and happy pulling my sleds and I cherish that. I am also permanently in awe of our surroundings which are as spectacular as I had hoped, so whilst physically this is pretty draining there is more than enough good each day to keep me moving forward. It is also genuinely encouraging and uplifting to read your emails and kind wishes. ..."

Their position on 23rd March: 84.9627 N / 78.0187 W. Lots of negative drift, but morale sky-high. They have both begun dreaming of crunchy pizzas, toast dripping with honey and cakes baked by their respective mothers!

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