Hours of journey: 9h45' - Accumulative: 289h30
Km./Day: 26,4 - Accumulative: 656,5Km. Remaining to the South Pole: 499,7Km.
Days of progress: 33 (29 Solo) - Inactive Days: 15 (0 Solo) - Total Days: 48
A bit better than yesterday, with the terrain sometimes harder and sometimes same yesterday softness, plus two steep slopes during the stage. Today I climbed 142 metres, which, in Antarctic terms and with the sledge it's a considerable incline...
Despite only covering 26,4 Km., I'm quite happy as I didn't finish as tired as yesterday, nor I haven't suffered the consequences of that , and because the terrain has improved becoming much regular and flat. If it wasn't for the soft snow, if it wasn't for the steep slopes, if it wasn't for the Sastruguis, if it wasn't for the wind, if it wasn't for the feet damage, if it wasn't for being stuck in the tent for 15 days, if it wasn't for the extreme cold, if it wasn't for the heavy sledge, and if it wasn't for lots of things.. I would be already in the South Pole drinking a Estrella Damm days ago... but what makes these challenges interesting is that they have a cost, and one keeps finding lots of obstacles which need to overcome... It is like life in general: it always happens something, that if it wasn't for something else we would be perfect. And again, it is the essence of life, precisely, to put things in context, to share and to overcome all those "if it wasn't for ..."
THE EXPEDITION POWER MANAGEMENT
It has been a few days now I wanted to tackle a more generic aspect of this traverse which many of you have asked about and it's how do I manage all aspects concerning electricity power.
I am carrying a lot of devices that need energy supply. They are all in the attached picture, with the exception of the compact photo camera that I obviously need it to take the photograph. It is worth saying that I just realised it when I had everything in place with the photo camera included. And with joy, I went to immortalise the moment.
I'll explain what they are (starting from top left corner):
- Main battery: If I keep this battery fully charged I can feed all the devices. It's very small and lightweight and I can charge up to 16V.
- GPS Beacon "YELLOWBRICK". It provides de signal where I'm at very thirty minutes. It is linked to the Racetracker System which makes possible to see my course in real time. It only carries one battery.
- Two Iridium satellites phones with a total of 4 batteries, provided by Fibertel in Madrid. I use only one, the other is for emergency purposes.
- Canon video camera, with 4 batteries.
- Asus Eeepc netbook, with two batteries.
- The GPS, that works with lithium batteries.
- A "Go-Pro" video camera, to record without having to manipulate it, placed at the front or somewhere else. It carries its own battery.
- Ipod Apple. It carries its own battery.
- And in my hand, taking the photo, a Canon compact photo camera with 3 batteries.
The main battery is being charged during the journey if sunny, with the solar panel that I place on top of the sledge as you can see on the picture at the end of this post. In order to charge this battery it is required a lot of power, and if it's not sunny or inside the tent, there is not enough power to charge it. So there have been some days where I have not been able to charge it.
Like I said, from the main battery I could charge everything, but the netbook can only be charged from this main battery. So you get the idea, one day where the main battery is fully charged, i get to charge the netbook a bit more than what I consume when using git (writing and sending this chronicle, looking at your blog messages and answering a couple or three emails I normally have). In other words, I ´m a bit short on battery supplies every day, and I could not charge much more than the main battery. In short, I only use this battery to charge the computer.
Then I can charge directly to the solar panel the satellite phone and the different cameras I have. I could also charge the Yellowbrick, the Ipod and the Go-Pro cam, but I don't have the adequate cables and I use the notebook to charge them (which makes more notebook battery consumption the day I charge this devices).
When I charge devices directly to the solar panel, I do it in the evenings inside the tent, opening the solar panel and placing in a tent corner using the light coming in, which is enough as they only require from 8 to 10v.
This way another routine is generated every day: to connect the solar panel to charge the main battery which is then used for the computer whilst I write the chronicle; and before going to sleep, charge the phone or a cam battery, etc...
What worries me most is to have the phone and the GPS in full working condition. The rest, in case I could not charge it (imagine the solar panel breaks down), I could get away with. But without the phone I couldn't for obvious security reasons, and without the GPS neither as I could well end up in Saragossa instead of the South Pole.
As the GPS works with lithium batteries and I have enough spare ones, problem sorted. With regards the satellite phone, even having a total of 4 batteries, I always try to have the 3 spare ones fully charged, and I would only use one that I charge almost every day. That way, even it happened something to my source of energy, with plenty of care when using it, I could get until the end.
I have a pile of cables that I decided not to appear in the photo, on top of all the stuff I have shown you in order to make all the required connections... now I'm used to it, but at the beginning it was a nightmare.
I DEDICATE THE DAY TO:
Nil Bohigas. Apart of being a very nice chap with an incredible number of mountaineering and other adventure sports achievements, being a successful entrepreneur in the adventure sports field with his company NO LIMIT, is one of the few that can fully understand what I'm going through in a Polar region like the one where I am at. I got his message through Oliver Vallès (Project Coordinator), and we share the same view.
And the fact is, that there are just few people who undertake Polar traverses alone. In Catalunya, aside of myself now, Nil is the only one who's done it. Back a few years ago, he went to the South Pole and did not make it for just a few kilometres.
So Nil, many thanks for your comments. On my return will get all together and share these experiences when we both where in the last few latitudes of the planet.