They could well miss the pole altogether…

Published on 20.04.2010 - Save the Poles

Eric Larsen and his two companions only have sixty or so kilometres left to reach the pole. But things are far from certain.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. As a veteran of the pole, Eric Larsen knows very well that while the distance between his party and the pole is getting shorter every day (see their position on 19th April below), there's many a slip twixt cup and lip. He also knows that the sea-ice can be very treacherous and transform an almost certain victory into a devastating defeat in a matter of seconds. So he is urging his two companions to exercise the greatest caution. And to pay particular attention to the easterly drift which could, if they are not careful, cause them to miss the pole altogether, because it has been very powerful in recent days.

Even if sweet victory is now practically there for the taking, Larsen is still taking things one day at a time. What happens if a blizzard starts up, for instance, and blows the men backwards? Well, if that happens, they'll have to act accordingly, keep calm and act with due consideration and intelligence. And what about if they come across their nth zone of compression ridges, which are virtually impossible to cross? They'll just stay cool, take their time, calculate carefully, discuss things and avoid taking any unnecessary risks.

There is however one thing that is changing as their goal approaches. The stress that had crept in unbidden to raise doubts about whether or not they could make it to the pole, which we mentioned in our previous report, is now slowly evaporating. During the breaks that punctuate their sessions on the move, the three men are now talking to one another -which was not the case last week. When they stop, they chat about this, that and just about anything. They even tease one another. And in the evening they go over their day again and laugh about any wrong moves they made, where one man may have hesitated or the unjustified fears of another...

On 16th April, Eric Larsen (who is truly inexhaustible with his unusual and very interesting comments) told us about what they do with their time. "There are five sorts of time out here on the sea-ice," he said.

  1. "Tent time : which is any time when they are in their tent.
  2. Happy time : when they pull on their sleeping bags in the evening and get ready to sleep.
  3. Soup time : after each half-day when they take the time to reward themselves with a bowl of steaming soup during their break.
  4. Break time: the 15 minutes of rest they allow themselves between each 90-minute session of hauling the sledge.
  5. Passing time : All other times when time is passing."

Their position on 19th April : 89° 21980 N / 57° 06406 W.

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