Hours of journey: 10h - Accumulative: 415h45'
Km./Day: 21,5 - Accumulative: 983,5Km. Remaining to the South Pole: 172,7Km.
Days of progress: 46 (42 Solo) - inactive days: 15 (0 Solo) - Total Days: 61
Position: S 88º 33,796' - W 082º 23,020'
I can see that this bloody frozen land will not give me a break until the very end...
I have taken down the tent and started the journey with a good sunshine, very little wind and a nice temperature. It was promising a good stage with the chance of doing many kilometers. But after an hour and a half the sky started to cover and in a short space of time I could not see a thing. I've started to navigate on blind mode with the GPS and the compass, like before, and then the temperature plummeted and the wind started to rise until it got very intense and carrying snow.
With all of that happening during the whole journey, it has been a horrible day. To be able to look where to go, I had to stop every few meters and check the compass constantly and the GPS every now and then. With these stop overs and the gear management I froze a few times. Several times I have had to make recovery exercises for my hands, as I was worried about potential frostbites. It has been the day I suffered most because of the cold, of the entire expedition. When the wind was at highest peak I decided to stop and put the tent up, but I immediately realized that it would be worse, so I decided to continue as I could for a bit more time and try to stop when conditions improved... at least, If I get going I'll keep the temperature up.
In the end, I've completed the journey with only 21,5 Km, which given the circumstances, I am already pleased with. To put up the tent has been another odyssey as the strong wind has made things very complicated as there was snow everywhere, and my fingers where getting frozen at each movement I made.
I then consider the wildcard as already used in my own countdown towards the Sout Pole, started on Christmas day. I was hoping to arrive on the 3rd of January, and I've moved it to the 4th, with 6 days left with tomorrow's (30th Dec) journey, weather allowing. If weather conditions get worse, we will still suffer a lot to reach the South Pole, as I have enough food to eat properly for 7 days, and if needed, with some restrictions I could stretch to 9 or 10 days.
A TRIBUTE TO SHACKLETON
It could be today's suffering which turned to be a kind of tribute to a man who suffered a lot on these lands, and made from overcoming the difficulties, and example of leadership that is still studied and admired around the world.
I've gone past 88º23´ today. And that was the maximum latitude who Ernest Shackleton reached in his South Pole Expedition, named ´Minrod´ in 1909, and was the closest spot to the South Pole ever reached by mankind, until in 1911 Roald Amundsen passed that point in his successful conquest of the South Pole.
With the troubles I've had today, I really thought to myself, Albert, don't count your chicken until they hatch. I'm battered and god knows what's going to happen in the next few days. We are in one of the most extreme places on earth, and everything is unpredictable here. You ask Shackleton, where standing exactly where I am, and almost becoming the first person in the world to conquer the South Pole, had to abandon.
Ernest Shackleton Really was a formidable and admirable explorer and adventurer. It's curious that his heroic deeds have become the most well known of all Polar expeditions, and a great example of leadership and management in critical situations, despite not accomplishing his objective.
Maybe it would be worth to think about the concept of the ambition that takes man to consider great challenges, as we have three great examples right here, that show three totally different models with also three different results:
1) Roald Amundsen: His ambition to achieve glory in a polar expedition took him to give up his greatest and first objective, the North Pole, when he was informed that Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole before. He then changes his mind and heads for the South Pole, preparing the adventure with an absolute meticulousness and the conviction that with his vast accumulated experience would give him enough success guarantees. The plan execution was close to perfection, great success and nobody got injured.
2) Ernest Shackleton: An ambitious man of great adventure projects, he organized different expeditions to the pols. One is the previously mentioned ‘Minrod', with the aim of becoming the first man to reach the South Pole. He didn't get there but comes back ok. In 1914 another of his expeditions, this time called ´Endurance ´with the objective of circumnavigate the Antarctica continent, as the South Pole was already conquered. He couldn't finish it as his boat got stuck in the ice, but the crisis management and the way he led a group of men that were sentenced to dead to save them all, has turned into one of the more epic and intelligent stories in the history of expeditions. He was very ambitious but never to the extent of sacrificing any human life in vain. He proved it in 1909 going all the way around the latitude I'm at right now, and in 1914-1916, giving his best at and very intelligently devoting his commitment to save all his team.
3) Captain Scott: Had a blind ambition to become the first person to reach the South Pole. He lacks some of Roald Amundsen experience, but has plenty of advisors from past expeditions. All of a sudden finds himself under pressure when unexpectedly Amundsen will also try to conquer the South Pole the same year. He planned his project with many errors, certain decisions were not properly managed, he had unexpected problems in certain issues, but never gave up and turned back, eager to reach the Pole first. In the end, he did actually reach the South Pole, but Amundsen got there first. And as a result of the resources bad management, and a small or null planning of the return trip, he and all his team members that reach the Pole, died before arriving to the Antarctic coast.
Ambition is key to face any important challenge in life. It's the engine that fights to the very end in order to achieve any goal and overcome any obstacles that surely will be found on the way. But as all extreme concepts, a good management is key, because, instead of engine to move forward could be turned into a shortcut to the most resounding failure.