What an epic ending !

Published on 25.04.2010 - Northpolechallenge.co.uk

Yesterday, the HQ of Dan Darcey and Amelia Russell announced that the duo was heading to a final 24 hour "Push for the Pole". They had only another 42 km to go. But the pack has decided otherwise.

Here are some excerpts from their last communiqué :

"We woke raring to get going and head for the pole, just 23nm to go. The first snag was that the clouds had moved in whilst we slept - visibility was awful, as bad as the worst we've had so far, when walking we often could see nothing except a grey-ish white in all directions. It is hard to describe how difficult this makes dragging - you can't look ahead to pick a good route, you can't see where yoour feet are landing, you can't navigate by the sun.

"So, not the dream start we had hoped for! Still, we were both so keen we set off merrily and took the inevitable and frequent trips and falls with good humour. The drift had at least become north-easterly so we got a little free assistance too.

"The first sessions were characterised by open water leads - these are always a pain but unavoidable at this time of year. We managed to find ways across all of them but at the expense of time.

"As we walked the pressure was falling and soon a blustery wind picked up and fresh snow fell. The pain with fresh snow is it covers all ice making it very tricky to determine what is safe or not. Still, we marched on northwards...

"Eventually we came upon another open water lead to cross. We set off in opposite directions to find a suitable crossing point - I found one very quickly and started to move the pulks there waiting for Amelia to return. After a little time passed I became quite worried although it wasn't unusual for Amelia to go on recces by herself. I decided to find her so headed off following her tracks - suddenly finding her by the lead, soaking wet and clearly freezing. She was in a bad way - having tripped in the low visibility andd then slipping into the water she had immediately dislocated her shoulder again and really struggled to get out. She had of course called out but I was way too far away to hear but fortunately she had been able to haul herself out - after around ten minutes in the water trying repeatedly to get out.

"As soon as I saw her state I got the pulks and got the tent up as she paced around trying to keep warm. With desperately bad timing I aggravated an old lower back injury doing this which will compromise my mobility for a few days now. Finally she was inside and we had just enough spare clothes between us to get her dry. I then assisted in relocating her shoulder - this worked, and we got busy sorting everything out.

"That was all a few hours ago. Progress has been made, we're warm, getting dry, and planning a final 'final' push to the pole. As visibility is still awful we will use this break to rest up a while longer before heading out again. We currently have 39hrs remaining until we get picked up by the Barneo Ice Base for the last flight to Svalbard.

"As you'll see from our position we made almost 8nm today leaving just 15 to go. Very manageable iin the time but we need some good fortune with the conditions ie some sun and no huge bits of water.

"We hope the remaining miles will be less eventful!

"I should stress that we are both 'ok' (in an exhausted, battered, tired and stressed kind of way). Not our finest hour but we're dealing with it and keen to have one more go at the pole before leaving the Arctic ice behind. ..."

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