OUR man Neil Hunter set off on his incredible 700-mile solo expedition last Wednesday, departing from Union Glacier with two other expedition parties.
“A strange start, with three expeditions, consisting of five people, then headed off in the same direction! It wasn’t long before we were out of sight of each other as Ryan Waters and his team stopped early, then Wendy Searle (looking to beat female speed record) carried on after I decided to stop. A short day of five hours including breaks and two miles closer to the South Pole).”
Neil encounters another solo explorer and has some welcome company for a few hours on day three, as he increases his daily distance and time skiing.
“I added another hour skiing today and that, along with the flatter terrain, helped increase my daily total to 14.6 miles. I’m pretty pleased, especially as I’m at almost full weight with the 100kg pulk.”
With high winds forecast in the following days, Neil braces for difficult conditions – and is briefly pleasantly surprised.
“I got up early so I could get a full day in before the high winds came. It was so quiet, without a breath of wind and I reckon I could’ve gotten away with wearing shorts and a t-shirt. For ten minutes, anyway. Then the wind started.
“There is only a blank whiteness in front of me and the wind strengthened as the day wore on. I stopped at nine hours and it was interesting pitching my tent. Before I do anything, I clip it to my pulk to stop it blowing away – which is unthinkable out here and wouldn’t end well.
“As I’m writing this the tent is shaking constantly but holding up well. I have every confidence in it and it always sounds worse from the inside. It looks like another sleepless night with the noise.”
By the following day, Neil laid low with the high winds raging, but got going about 2pm, where he was facing temperatures of -35C wind chill, “but wasn’t as bad as I’d expected.”
“The mountains are over my right shoulder and behind me, so it won’t be long until there’s nothing but white all around. It’s simple, but stunning and gives an appreciation of how big and desolate this place is.”
To read Neil’s daily blogs, see www.90degreessouthsolo.co.uk
Neil is using CurraNZ on his gruelling five-week record-setting expedition to aid in his muscle performance and recovery. Follow his tracker on our website (click here)