Ant and Louis are regularly contacting the team back at home via satellite phone. This blog was sent back to England, 20 words at a time by Ant. You can’t question their dedication!
They say fortune favours the brave. Clearly however, she does not hold such fond sentiments towards the stupid. Our flying start hit a road bump early on when we woke to -30 degrees on our last morning on the Koukdjuak plains. At this temperature, the snow becomes course like sand and dragging our bodies and gear up the rolling hills proved extremely difficult.
We prayed to the deities for warmer weather, and fate being a cruel mistress obliged in the form of a warm front bringing with it soft powdery snow.
Leaving Nettling Lake further north than our original intention however has proved our undoing. Hills mapped as 80-90 metres turned out to be 3x that number and alongside tidal ridges that only the largest island lake on earth gets, has made getting across the lake very hard going. That hampered our route across Nettling Lake, and with no let up from the soft powder we have now spent the past 4 days wading waist deep through soft snow up and down hills as we inch our way toward the Isurtuq River.
We had hoped that when we hit a tributary of the river, going would prove easier but in fact, it has been made far harder by the funnel effect had on the ground. We are skiing 12 hours each day, and some days we are barely making 8km. It is extremely worrying; our supplies will run out at this rate way before we have a chance to reach the Penny Ice Cap. In these conditions we are still at least a three-day ski from the river and to reach it we are climbing/skiing our way through a unnamed/unexplored valley filled with ice falls. The light at the end of the tunnel seems very far away indeed. When we reach the Isurtuq River we will need to check stock and reassess our plans moving forward. The further north we head, the far more difficult getting help will be if we keep hitting ground like this.
The days are long, and they are hard.
As admirable as Captain Scott was, there’s no chance we’re freezing to death in our tents when the writing is clearly on the wall that this route in these conditions is unworkable.
This has been some of the hardest few days of our lives. Wading waist high through treacle like drifts of snow all whilst trying to drag a pulk behind us up hills and through unexplored valleys has sapped us of almost all our energy.
However, this is the nature of true exploration. We are not following decades old waypoints to some random sense of Polar glory.
I’ll try to send an update through soon, but if until then you’re enjoying our troubled tale, we would appreciate it if you could ‘Chuck us a fiver’ to the Royal Marines Charity. All funds go towards their mental health initiatives for veterans.