The last degree

Published on 28.12.2009 - Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition

With caution and quiet determination, the ladies of the Kaspersky Commonwealth Expedition all of whom are complete polar travel novices, remember have now embarked on the final 100 kilometres of their trek from the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole.

The end of their journey is just a matter of days away. And as we approach the New Year, we can safely say that the girls have completed the hardest part of their trip and are about to accomplish a remarkable feat.

Although the daily reports coming in from the expedition have always made mention of minor aches and pains among the group and although the conditions have not always been good (in particular, they have had to negotiate a number of sastruggi-strewn areas along the way), the girls have always managed to overcome all of these little (and sometimes not so little) daily hardships (cold, lack of comfort, hunger, lack of privacy, not enough sleep, muscle pain, etc.) to focus on their trip and the aim they are seeking to achieve. All of their mental work has paid off, since they only have about a hundred kilometres to go before reaching the Amundsen Scott base.

On 23rd December, Sophia Pang from Singapore wrote something very interesting about body fat: "Today I came to understand that there is at least one reason for not being happy about not having too much fat in our bodies: because in this environment and after spending so much time in such cold, you come to realise the extent to which the body is able to use -and need- every gram of fat it can muster. Taking my own case, I have a rather athletic body and not much in the way of fat. Well, I now know that during the first part of our adventure, my body used every last gram of fat it could find for the sole purpose of getting used to the environment. For example, simply sitting in your tent trying to keep your body warm requires more energy then you might think. And now that we have reached day 31, I feel that not only has a good proportion of my body's fat disappeared, but now my muscles are also beginning to lose their fat. It's something I have felt very much in the past few days. In the morning, your mind tells you that you feel fit and you'll be able to go faster; then during the day you come to realise that your arms and legs simply can't keep up..."

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