They’re No Longer Counting Up, They’re Counting Down…

Published on 06.04.2010 - Save the Poles

Time is finally half over. Consequently, Larsen and his companions are no longer counting up, as they say (still X miles to get to the Pole) but indeed down -only X  kilometres to go... It's encouraging.

They haven't yet got completely shot of that infernal drift that was making them lose by night what they had struggled to gain by day. But it had calmed down and, sometimes even the wind was coming from the south, which made them go forwards instead of backwards. So we could consequently think that the team's progress might have become a little easier, a little less dangerous. Alas no, because you have to follow the evidence; what the North Pole gives with one hand, it takes back with the other. Admittedly, they're no longer moving backwards by so many kilometres per day, but another obstacle has arrived to slow their progress down: the whiteout. Each morning or almost, when they open the tent, it's the big white that greets them. Perhaps not for the whole day, but at least for a few hours. And everyone knows that to make progress when you can't see more than a metre ahead is not only dispiriting but also wearing on the nerves, as you have to be extremely and constantly vigilant because, all along the pack ice, the pitfalls are numerous and you can easily break a leg in a hole in front of you that you hadn't had time to see...

However, Larsen takes us somewhat into his intimacy as a polar explorer. Interesting! But what therefore can all those athletes be thinking about when they make the same movements day in day out and week in week out while immersed in immense loneliness - even when they are not going solo, the others are so far away that you often feel terribly alone during the day -so say the explorers whom I know personally. To what indeed can their thoughts turn throughout those interminable hours of suffering? Larsen lifts the lid a little: he often thinks of himself, who he really is, how he comes across to others, how he comes across to himself, the kind of person that he wants to be, is he always the same, is his personality changing or constant, and so on and so forth. He also often wonders about what his style of progression might be; that furthermore has been the subject of a mini debate between them. What is the best style of navigation? Darcy likes to stop relatively frequently, to unharness his sledge, to climb up on a block of ice and to look far, far ahead. Larsen, for his part, almost never works as a scout. He is content to go forward and to discover the difficulties that arise as he goes along. Antony Jinman, for his part, is somewhere between the two. Last topic of thought for Larsen: he likes to listen to the noises that surround him. The ice moving in the distance, the gentle squeal of the runners of his sledge, the crunching of his boots in the snow, the sliding of his skis on the ice, the lapping of the water when he crosses a lead, and so on and so forth.

Their position on 06 April at 04:00 UT: 87 05.846 N / 80 30.931 W. They've just gone more than halfway.

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