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!
Time. On a self-supported expedition, time rules everything. Time is as precious as your food and fuel and is a resource to be used wisely. With a set distance to cover, and only the food and fuel we can carry in our pulks, time dictates everything; 2 extra minutes each leg spent cleaning the frozen fog from your anti fog goggles must be accounted for or else accumulated those 2 minutes become ground not covered, and ultimately more finite resources burned.
They say fortune favours the brave.
I say in this game she looks with a fonder eye on those that keep their tab settled with Cronus to the second.Time is not on our side. Since changing our plans we have been zig zagging through unexplored valleys trying to reach the ancient inuit hunting trails to
80km as the crow flies is not 80km as the Mad Explorer flies, far from it. The ground surrounding these valleys is 100-200m high sheer vertical blocks of ice and granite. Trying to climb and haul our gear up and over these would prove an expensive endeavour with our time so we are forced to follow the rivers and lakes back and forth as we slowly inch our way towards our goal.
This is not a journey like our Greenland trip in the slightest.
Distances here our much harder won. The inclines we battle and the ground we cover is far, far more technical than anything we ever anticipated. Each funnel between the valleys we go through is often drifted high with snow and we are almost climbing at points to get between sections of low ground and water ways. This is not the same as a polar journey.
This is trail breaking exploration at its purest.
It is not easy or quick going. Since we went through the ice, the temperature has plummeted as low as -36 with the windchill making it close to -50 this is quite far the hardest thing we have done to date. In April we were expecting a temperature range of between -5 and -15. What we have had so far is anywhere from above freezing right down to nearly -40, this mix of conditions has made this expedition an extremely challenging affair.
We both have degrees of frostbite in our fingers and toes, time will tell whether the damage we have inflicted will be permanent or not, but right now all we know is it is extremely painful. Each night in our sleeping bags after we rewarm, we both suffer from severe pain and coldness in these areas, this is not a trip for the faint hearted.Through the valleys has been spectacular when we have had the minds to look around. Travelling over frozen white-water which stretches in ice columnsover 3 metres high in places has been a highlight, although it was hampered by the proximity to fast flowing open water that took our attention avoiding it for the most part. The hard long days are made manageable by our now extremely slick drills at making an enviable camp each night. No time is wasted in melting snow, and we take it in turns to pick who is joining us on our speaker for dinner each evening.
Phil Collins and The Beegees are regular guests.
We should pick up the Inuits trail in a couple of days, from the here we are safe in as much we can arrange another qamuti pick up if we need and we are on a well-established trail. However, the population that uses it is extremely sparse, and we will still need to navigate another few days through mountainous terrain alone in polar bear county.
From there we reach the coast, our finish, and the sea ice. Reports have reached us that the sea ice is extremely thin right now, and time is not our friend on this front either. If it is too thin for a skidoo collection, we will have to attempt the 140km trip ourselves with no alternatives for collection. That distance on fragile sea ice in the in a vast population of polar bears is a harrowing thought indeed.
We will keep you posted.
As always if you have enjoyed following our story and have not already, we would both truly appreciate if you ‘Chuck us a fiver’ to the Royal Marines Charity via the button below.