Day 63

Well, the mythical good conditions in the last degree are still eluding us. No sign of the flat hard terrain and easy skiing that other expeditions approaching from different directions describe unfortunately. Most of today was uphill in soft sticky snow with scattered small sastrugi; backbreaking work.

There is a strange phenomenon that occurs when it’s very cold, the crystal surface structure of the snow becomes rougher and there is much more friction when dragging sleds. It’s -32degC here today and we’re certainly feeling the increased drag of the sleds. Despite them being very light now as we near the end of the expedition they don’t slide over the surface at all and are still a dead weight.

Just have to keep going for 3 more days!

Suunto Stats

Skiing Time 12hrs 10mins

Distance 26.64km

Gareth

Average HR 118

Max HR 176

Calories burned 8327

Richard

Average HR 120

Max HR 171

Calories burned 8298

Day 62

We’ve made it to the last degree! Earlier today we passed 89S and now have only 106kms to go. It’s a huge milestone for us and we’re excited to have passed our final degree of latitude. It has been a mixed day of long slow climbs and intermittent sastrugi. We’re happy with our progress though and travelled 26.73kms today.

Suunto Stats

Skiing Time 11hrs 55min

Distance 26.73km

Gareth

Average HR 120

Max HR 172

Calories burned 8280

Rich

Average HR 121

Max HR 169

Calories burned 8351

We really appreciate everyone that is following our journey so far, that has shared our story and encouraging us along with all your positive messages of support.

Our generous sponsors have contributed to making this journey possible but a large part of this expedition is self funded so any donations help

Day 61

Unfortunately I do not have a blog post from the explorers today as there was no phone reception at the remote beach we visited but they are well and we look forward to an update tomorrow.

Here is the transcript of the voice recording from our website www.Antarctica2023.com.au @zerosixzero map with an update from Richard on todays events.

Hi everybody, it’s Richard here. Sorry it’s been a while since we’ve done a voice message. We’ve been doing a lot of skiing recently. We’re just in the last phase of the expedition. We have got five days to go to get to the pole, so average about 26 kilometers a day. So we’re working pretty hard. We’re out of the tents and skiing at about quarter to eight every morning. So we get up at six, by the time we’ve melted all our water for the day, had some breakfast, packed the tent away, we’re usually skiing at about quarter to eight, and then we’re skiing for about 12 hours. Time to get the tent up about eight o’clock in the evening and then back in the tent at about eight thirty, quarter to nine. So we’re putting in some really long days, but we’re making the distance and getting closer to the Pole. So yeah, we’re getting there. We’re both getting a bit tired now. We’re just gonna keep going for a few more days and we’ll get there. So lots of love to everybody at home, thank you everybody for all your kind support that I know we’re getting. And special shout out to my two wonderful kids, Will and Rose, and we’ll see you guys all again very, very soon.

Gareth had a lovely birthday celebration, he received a Birthday card and a lovely friendship bracelet from Lucia in his Birthday parcel. We hope they enjoyed the Whisky.

Sorry no Suunto stats for today

Day 60

Wow we have been on the ice for 60 days, what an absolute privilege but also a long time to be away from home. Who knows how our favourite historic polar explorers managed.

After a day of flat and reasonable terrain we had been lulled into a false sense of security. We fitted our half skins to our skis to give us more glide and efficiency of movement. It turned out to be a big mistake. After an hour we found ourselves again slogging up a steep slope in dense sastrugi. We spent most of the day in these conditions until the sastrugi started to ease towards the last few kilometres. It seems like we will have sastrugi all the way to the South Pole and have stopped hoping otherwise. It’s -28 at the moment so starting to get properly cold.

We are looking forward to a little celebration this evening as it is Gareth’s birthday and we have found a little Birthday parcel in our food bag with a wee dram of whiskey and some chocolates to share!

Suunto Stats

Skiing Time 11hrs 45mins

Distance 25.65kms

Gareth

Average HR 118

Max HR 171

Calories burned 8103

Richard

Average HR 115

Max HR 169

Calories burned 8023

Day 59

With 8 days to do the last 211km to the Pole we’ve got to do some big distances now but at least we’re hopefully out of the sastrugi.

The surface isn’t exactly perfect, still lumpy and relatively soft but it’s the best we’ve had for well over 500km! We started the day in a whiteout staring at our compass. We’ve increased the length of each of our skiing sessions to make sure we make our minimum distance each day. Low cloud always makes us feel a bit more glum but by the time we made camp the sun had come out and we were feeling good after a very long day but one in which we’d done a great distance. We’ve just got to keep it up for another week until we arrive at our goal.

We have received some lovely messages of support from our family, friends, sponsors and supporters after announcing the change to our expedition. Richard,  Myself and the entire Antarctica 2023 team appreciate everyone that has reached out and reassured us that it is the journey not the final destination that counts. We want to inspire everyone to set huge goals and give it their best, but also step back and know their limits.

To quote Ernest Shackleton “I thought you’d rather have a live donkey than a dead lion.”

Suunto Stats

Skiing Time 11hrs 45mins

Distance 26.6km

Gareth

Average HR 116

Max HR 168

Calories burned 8243

Richard

Average HR 117

Max HR 169

Calories burned 8189

Day 58

We had a really good day today. We made it passed 88S and conditions have really improved. We are on a flat plateau with almost no sastrugi! The start of the day was hard, uphill through sastrugi but then once we passed 88S it all got better. We are sitting in our tent now high on the polar plateau. We still have 200 hard kilometres to go to reach the South Pole and hope to be there by the 18th January.


To our family, friends, sponsors and supporters,

We have made the difficult decision to end our expedition at the South Pole. After losing a crucial week to weather delays at the start of the expedition our objective became that much harder – covering 2023kms across Antarctica in 66 days, a formidable but not impossible challenge. We needed everything to go right to be in with a chance of making it to the Ross Ice Shelf. It has been been an extremely challenging Antarctic season for all expeditions on the continent. For us, 200kms of soft powder snow through the Pensacola Mountains and 386kms (and counting) of solid sastrugi has significantly slowed our progress. We find ourselves now with not enough time or supplies to go more than a few days beyond the South Pole and feel the correct decision is to finish there.

We started this journey on the very edge of the Antarctic continent, the only expedition to start at this further point at the north end of Berkner Island amongst the Emperor Penguins and Icebergs of the Weddell Sea. Although disappointed that we will not make the crossing we will be extremely proud to complete the 1400km trek from the coast to the South Pole.

Thank you all so much for your support and kind messages, they have kept us going through some hard times. We hope you will continue to cheer us on to the end of this epic journey.

Sincerely, Gareth and Rich

Suunto Stats

Skiing Time 10hr 10mins

Distance 23kms

Gareth

Average HR 115

Max HR 171

Calories burned 7480

Richard

Average HR 118

Max HR 175

Calories burned 7648