They’re Starting to Pile on the Pressure

Published on 07.04.2010 - Northpolechallenge.co.uk

Dan Darley and Amelia Russell are optimistic that they will get to the NP before 26 April. Nevertheless, the days remain long and difficult and it's therefore a question of piling on a certain amount of pressure.

After crossing Degree 86.5, and very recently even Degree 87 (on 06 April), Dan and Amelia can finally start to take stock and calculate the date of their arrival at the Pole. But deep down, they are a little afraid of this exercise because although it can have positive effects on their mindset (when things are going well and according to plan), it can also have a negative aspect when things continue in quick succession to go wrong. And that's precisely what's happening at the moment.

Admittedly, the average distance that the couple has been able to maintain for several days enables them to say that they no longer have to force the pace and that, at this rate, they will arrive at the Pole in time. Judge for yourself: according to their own calculations and those of their HQ, they have 197 nautical miles to cover in 23 days, which comes to 8.59 nautical miles per day (these calculations were made on 04 April). However, they're doing more than that: somewhere around ten to twelve for the last few days. One could therefore say that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds and that they just have to keep going as they are in order to get to the legendary place in time.

Alas! That's not the case. Firstly, because Dan and Amelia are really exhausted and with each day that passes, they feel that the moment will come when they will be physically unable to take any more. Secondly: the problems of drift are still not resolved. Although one morning they realised that for once it was positive (drifting towards the Pole), the next morning it was catastrophic once again, with the reality of pack ice that had gone backwards by three or four kilometres during the night. On 04 April, they calculated that out of 10.4 nautical miles of headway, they had effectively advanced only 8 nautical miles - two nautical miles of treadmill. So they have had to take this element of the puzzle into account for their calculations. Finally, they have realised each evening that, slowly but surely, their bodies are deteriorating day after day. That goes from blisters on their feet to back ache via severe frostbite on their hands. In addition, there's always the state of the ice, which, although it has been improving for several days, still remains pretty risky and riddled with nasty surprises. Has Christina Franco not been definitively blocked by an uncrossable channel? At the end of day, their mindset tells them this: "Come on, you can do it, guys, but take care, it's not yet in the bag..."

Listening wisely to that inner voice, Dan and Amelia are doing their utmost to be able at the same time to continue to confront the forces of nature with determination and not to do too much to avoid a breakdown. Piling on the pressure therefore, without yet starting to panic.

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