Onwards past the 81st parallel!
Published on 27.11.2008 - Expedicion Caixanova 2008
Chus Lago has reached a cruising speed.
Despite the cold and wind that continues to blow on some days, the Spanish adventurer managed to cover an average of 18 kilometres a day between 18th and 25th November.
She has progressed so much that on 21st November, Chus proudly announced: "Here I am at the 81st parallel!". This means that she has now covered 10% of her route to the Pole. But there are still another 9 degrees of latitude for her to cross before she reaches her goal.
Despite the cold, the wind and the 100 kg sledge she has to haul along over the ice for hours, her greatest adversary is loneliness. "To fight the feeling of being on my own, I think about home and everything I'll do when I get back again, starting by a visit to the hairdresser!" she says, adding: "You can never prepare yourself psychologically for a solo expedition of this magnitude. The only thing that can help you is to leave things back home that you have to do, or enjoy doing when you get there. That's what helps drive you on to the end of your mission."
The wind had dropped on 23rd November, but then it was the clouds that made her progress difficult. "When the sky is overcast, you lose all sense of perspective, everything dissolves into the whiteness around you. Your body doesn't throw a shadow on to the ground and without any point of reference to rely on, it's hard to keep your balance," she says, before adding: "There are sastruggis* in the way, too. It's so easy to stumble over them or get your sledge stuck."
On 24th November, Chus covered 21 kilometres, bringing her to a total of 152.2 kilometres.
When you're in the Antarctic, every day brings a new batch of problems and difficulties to overcome. On 25th November, although the sky was blue it was the cold and wind that tied Chus down. Nonetheless, one step after another, she still managed to cover another 21.5 kilometres.
"My days are broken down like this: 3 hours of walking then I take a short break to gulp something liquid down before the cold turns it to ice," she explains. "Then I eat something and get back on my way. I do that 3 times a day."
* a Russian word meaning heaps of snow that become hardened by the wind, making the ground look a bit like corrugated iron when they're not too high.