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First resupply

Daragh, Jeremy, Doug, Eric and Luc reached their first resupply point at about 15.30pm on Monday 8th. The cache was marked by a “very small” black flag, so luckily it was a clear day. For the rest of Monday afternoon the team reorganised their supplies and repacked the sleds. The original plan was to have a full day’s rest at the first cache, but – in what I imagine must be an indication that the team are all feeling fit and well and keen to get on – they chose to take just half a day’s break on Tuesday morning before covering 13kms in the afternoon.

I did congratulate Daragh on them all being ahead of schedule (the schedule as I calculated it from the original plan); he simply referred me to the new schedule, in which they are spot on.

He told me it is actually extremely difficult to judge your own speed or the distance being covered – I assume because the view is pretty much unchanging. It is therefore also hard not to obsess about moving too slowly and falling behind time. However, in the evenings when the team calculate how far they have traveled, it often exceeds their expectations and is great motivation to get up and do it again the following day.

He also reports that sleep is easy, despite the 24 hour daylight. The team get about 7 hours sleep each night and although Daragh usually wakes 3 or 4 times, he is so exhausted that he drops back almost immediately and doesn’t necessarily need his eye-mask in place to do so.

So at the end of the day on Thursday 11th, I reckon they have covered 365kms, or 40% of the expected distance to the Pole. The original estimated distance for their expedition was 934km point to point on a map, but in reality the journey is likely to be 20-30km further, as the team zig-zag and navigate the best route.

Achieving the first cache also meant a strategic decision for the team, who are now five, as the supplies were dropped several weeks ago for the original team of six. This means they had surplus food, fuel and gear; useful but also extra weight!

From the cache it was four day’s ski to Thiels Corner, an area by the Thiel mountain range used as a fuel depot for the twin-engined planes that fly across Antarctica. (Planes have to refuel approx half-way to the Pole as they can’t carry enough to do the full distance in one journey.) At Thiels Corner the team left their own rubbish from the first leg of the journey, and also extra gear from the first cache. I actually don’t know if they simply ate the extra food on the way…

Related news is that Wednesday 10th was Conor’s first birthday! And he did receive a call from his Daddy in the South Pole at about 6.45am South Pole time. We’ve had two parties so far, one at the weekend with all Conor’s grandparents and five of his friends (who brought their parents along too), and then on Wednesday with his grandma and godmother. Lots of fun and cake, and cards and presents are still arriving. Thank you so much to everyone for remembering – it’s made the celebrations truly happy.

- AH