“We’ve Survived the Arctic in March. Hooray…”
Published on 01.04.2010 - Northpolechallenge.co.uk
A few little everyday bugbears have failed to undermine the troops' morale. Dan and Amelia have chosen to be picked up by Barneo's logistics. So they've got to get a move on...
In a few days time, the couple will be halfway there; obviously that lifts their morale. But deep down, neither Dan nor Amelia needs that. Because it can be said that everything is going according to plan for the 'northpolechallenge.co.uk' expedition.
Admittedly, they've had one or two little technical problems. The repair of Dan's wetsuit, for example. The alarm clock that suddenly stopped, no doubt because of the cold. The loss of their rifle in the end of the day of 01 April, discovered while they were getting ready to put up the tent; fortunately, the weapon had become detached from the sledge only about 1,200 metres away from the camp, with the result that they had to cover only some 2.4 km to go and get it. They were delayed though because they had to put on their wetsuits on several occasions (that's a palaver and a half!) in order to cross some interstitial waters.
The couple has managed nevertheless to maintain an average of 17 to18 kilometres per day, which is an excellent result. The rate that they have adopted has led them to decide that they would extract themselves from their adventure by calling upon Barneo's logistics, which means that they have to get to the NP before 26 April.
On 30 March, Amelia wrote some interesting and original lines (I would even say unprecedented) on the subject of the cold, which is rather unusual in the world of polar adventurers, who almost never speak about it, except in terms of statistics or extremes. Here is what she wrote: "I thought I'd talk about the cold today. As I expect you've realised, it's pretty chilly up here in the Arctic and we've had an average of between -35C and -45C. Before training for this trip I didn't really know how much different minus twenty would be to minus forty, after all it feels as if it couldn't be any colder when London gets to minus five! I assure you, minus forty is colder. The cold pervades everything, and almost everything we do is in some way dictated by it. Probably the only time I ever get really comfortably warm is in the middle of a sledging session, and then I have to be very careful not to sweat excessively. Right now in the tent we have one stove on heating the tent/drying gloves, and I am wearing thermals, polar suit salopettes and jacket (thick double layer fleece pile), big fleece over the top, two hats, gloves and two pairs of socks and down booties and I am just not that warm! The last bit of my hot drink I made half an hour ago in an insulated mug sitting on an insulated mat has frozen. The fuel hardly vaporises so it's hard to light the stoves. The toothpaste is almost solid. We can't touch anything metal without risking a cold burn. If I go outside to get something from the pulk my hands will become numb within 30 seconds or so without gloves. Even in our two sleeping bags and VBL it is sometimes quite chilly at night. If we're not careful our lips can stick to metal zips at the tops of our jackets. It's really difficult to explain well just how cold it is, but it is so so cold. "