Hours of journey: 9h30' - Accumulative: 181h45
Km./Day: 22 - Accumulative: 356,4Km. Remaining to the South Pole: 788,6Km.
Days of progress: 22 (18 Solo) - Inactive Days: 15 (0 Solo) - Total Days: 37
Today it has been hard and tough. The surface was quite flat, but about the 80% had soft snow and it was hell to pull the sledge. If I add yesterdays effort (or the fact of 18 days non-stop), the thing is that I have suffered a kind of a breakdown, fainting fit...I have spent 4 hours with the intention to set camp at the first opportunity, but I carried on as I could even noticing heavy deviations. I have stopped twice the average to eat and drink and doubled the Powerbar daily intake. In the end and thanks to that, I have been able to pull myself together and during the last two hours my overall condition has improved substantially.
I'm at the verge of Parallel 83 (I'll cross sit during the first or second hour), so, almost reaching the target of doing it in 5 days. What's clear to me, bad weather conditions aside, I can't spend more than 5 days to reach each degree. That would mean 35 days from now, to/until the South Pole....and from now onwards, to improve it the best I can.
It's been a few days now, I wanted to tell you about some more generic issues about the expedition, aside of what the journey has been. But in order to tell how the day has been, an not to be bore you too much I have been postponing it, plus I have read some comments which are asking about these things. So every now and then, I will be focusing in particular aspects of my daily routine once the chronicle is written. To those who have enough with what's happened during the day, they can stop right at the end... and those who want more info can continue to read.
LIFE IN THE TENT (PART 1)
Today I'll talk about how is day in the tent, since I take my skis off until I put them back on. I'll split it in two parts, otherwise it would be too long, and I think it's interesting enough to try an explain it properly. So today I'll describe how is it until I go to bed:
With so many days, one developes a routine that will take you to do almost exactly the same every day. Therefore the order I will be describing my day following pretty accurately what happens in order with almost no variations.
Approximately towards 18h, right after my journey is completed (hours and Km.), and a good spot chosen for my tent, I put the sledge perpendicular where the tent is going, to protect it from the wind and then, I'll start with the tent mounting process. The task of mounting the tent was one of the issues that worried me most being on my own, but after 18 days or practice, I'm quite good at it, even with strong winds, and as time goes by, I set the tent in less time. Once the tent is safely hooked, I pile up some snow around the tent in order to make it a bit more insulated from the wind, then I open a small hole in the "avancer" to make the access easier and I fill half of the "avancer" area with snow to melt during dinner, breakfast and refill of my bottles.
Once the tent is up, I move all the staff I need from the sledge. Normally these are three small bags, a fuel bottle and a knapsack where I have all the most necessary stuff. With everything inside, I double-check I've got everything inside the "house", as once inside I do not want to get out until tomorrow's departure.
Just before finally entering in the tent, if the weather allows me, I try to do some stretching's outside. And if the weather is bad I'll do them just before getting in my sleeping bag.
It normally takes me about an hour since I set the right place to camp, until I actually go in.
Once in the nest, the first thing is to take all the tech apparel and all the gear I carry with me, that is, compass, GPS and camera. Right after, great moment! Boots off! (Feels so good!). And then, with care I take my socks off making sure I do not touch the homemade bandages with american tape, because it does work and better not to touch it.
When pulling my socks off, I turned them over and leave them to dry. It's funny to see in the inside part of it, a natural layer (made by the sweat and the dirt), that for sure, is what's curing my blisters and preventing them from getting any worse...It is good to say thought, that so far I am alternating the usage do two pair of socks, as they work very well and I want to make them last until the run to the bag of dirty clothes!
Once undressed and with new warm clothes (fleece, balaclava, feathery boots, etc...), I start to organize the tent. It's a very fast operation, as I am already used to place everything in its own place. I also place the wet or frozen clothes hanging from a cable I have on the tent ceiling, so it dries whilst I heat the water up. The process finishes when I have inflated the mattress and ready to live some hours of comfort.
As all of the above usually happens around 19h30, then I call my wife, Maria, and have the only conversation I have for the day. We try not to go over the 15 minutes period, as Satellite phones are expensive but it hardly happens. I tell her about the day in cases he needs to do the chronicle for me and then she tells me stories from life at home. We talk about generic family matters... for example, the kids: one has been sacked from school, the other has thrown a pot to an elderly woman from the window, the third one ran away from home...you know...kids stuff!! Or we talk about love: My wife tells me she has packed all her stuff and seen dot to her mums, she has changed the locks, she's gone to court and wants to divorce, nothing major, couples stuff! Or sometimes she tells me about general news: Rubalcaba won the elections, Spain is going flat out and the economy has grown a 10% and the stock markets are on the rise....Life matters...!
At 20h on the dot I call Union Glacier Base to give them my coordinates to give them my coordinates. It's an agreed security procedure, as if within two days have not heard from me, then an emergency search and rescue operation would be triggered immediately.
After that, dinner's on the way. As I start to melt snow I open a small 100 -150 gr. Packet of cold meat and a piece of cheese. I eat half of each and leave the other half for breakfast the following day. Then it's turn for a hot Sopinstant that goes in very well. One day I eat pasta and others tend to vary. As pasta I have carbonara, Bolognese and milanese noodles, and as for meat is concerned, I can choose from potatoes with meat, ham and lentil soup, or rice with meat and onion. All of these are ready made freeze dried products and are ready adding some boiling water and do not require to cook and the mess that comes with it. As per what dessert is concerned, there is always a treat. I tend to alternate some more simple ones like nuts, dried fruit or a bit of nougat or nougat candy, to a more sweet one which are freeze dried and with a great taste. I have three types of those which are: apple puree, wild berries yogurt or chocolate mousse...What a treat!
When I'm stuffed, I brush my teeth, little wee and to bed. It is worth saying though that the wee is well programmed, of course. I always have my wee kneeling down inside the tent, and using a specific bottle I have for that purpose, and I empty the contents in a small whole I digged previously in the "avancer" area, where I also empty remaining liquids from dinner. Never throw any solids away, as they all go into a bag that I carry inside the sledge.
Once in the sleeping bag I stay half sit up ( as you can see in the picture ) in it, and using the temperature inside the tent, is time then to switch on the computer and write the daily chronicle and check if I have any email to answer. I can only send/receive emails to 8 persons, as it is a very restrictive system to avoid any problems, and these persons know what can and what cannot be sent. These are: Sandra Garcia ( press relations ), Oliver Valles ( project manager ), Rafael Galan (different project and work issues ), Joan Riedweg ( TV production ), Mónica Palencia and Ignasi Ubach ( work issues ), and my wife, for obvious reasons...
After all that, I put down on a notebook the day particulars, and in another one, all the ideas, thoughts and crazy stuff that goes in my mind...Finally this normally happens at about 10h30/11h, I read a card that between my wife and some friends have prepared for every day with a specific message, I put the mask on to avoid the day light, and off to sleep. Tomorrow there's war again!.