Tired and cold, but humble and graceful

Published on 19.11.2011 - South Pole 1911-2011 NPI

The TransAntartic mountain range is in sight...

The TransAntartic mountain range is in sight...

© Norwegian Polar Institute

The four guys sent by the NPI (Norwegian Polar Institute) are progressing very well down there. Although they can not lift their ski/sails as often as they would hope.

Very good work indeed for the four of them, Vegard Ulvang, Jan-Gunnar Winther, Stein P. Aasheim and Harald Dag Jølle: between last Sunday 13 November and today 19 November (7 days), they have clocked 227 km on the counter, which means a daily average of 32.4 km.

Even if they complain about the monotony of their progression because they can not use their sails very often, they move forward really pretty fast.

Excerpts of their 18 November diary : " ... “Forget it! There’s no way we can stay on course with this wind.” Our ski-sailing expert from Kirkenes lowers his kite to the ground. “Damn!” think some of us, “another day of slogging.”

Yesterday everything was so great. Okay, the wind direction wasn’t perfect then either. Harnessing the wind took all our strength and our leg muscles were stiff with the effort. But it offered a bit of variety. Raise your kite. Concentrate on getting it to fly properly. Read the wind, read the terrain. Fall down and get back up again. A bit of “action”.

But today we’re back to pulling our sleds – infinitely more monotonous work. Isolated in our hoods like horses in blinkers, we are alone with our own thoughts an hour at a time. We drive ourselves hard when we are on the move. One hour of pulling; not a minute less. Discipline befitting Olympic athletes. And then a juice break. In principle, breaks last ten minutes, but this time limit isn’t as strictly kept. Then we raise the hoods again, put on our snow goggles and count down the minutes until the lead man starts to check the time again. And eventually lets us know that another hour has passed. It gets monotonous, we must admit, but it does make the kilometres add up. Eight sessions per day. ..."

But few days ago their lives has changed drastically : because finally after 16 days on the ice, they have sighted land!

From their 16 November diary : " ... A new era has begun for the centenary expedition. We have sighted land! Little white peaks were suddenly visible above the horizon in the southwest. They mark the end (or perhaps the beginning) of the Ross Ice Shelf, and they definitely mark the beginning of the ascent to the Antarctic plateau. The sighting was greeted with great jubilation and celebrated with an extra piece of chocolate at lunchtime. We are nearing the end of the first 700 kilometres. ... "

All this makes them say that if they are dead tired and cold, "the big picture is that we are both humbled and grateful to be experiencing these days."

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