All to no avail

We are receiving a few questions about how we pass our time while we are waiting. What on earth do you talk about when you are expected to arrive at the South Pole on 14 December and must ski 1,300 km to get there, and have to ski faster and faster for each day’s delay?
During the test excursion in Svalbard the lads also lay weatherbound for a few daysDuring the test excursion in Svalbard the lads also lay weatherbound for a few days. Photo: Harald Dag Jølle / Norwegian Polar Institute

Yes, that’s exactly what we are talking about: how much delay can we tolerate before it becomes completely impossible to keep up with our timetable? But we have no answers.

If we had started on the same day as Amundsen, 19 October, we would have had to cover an average of 23 km per day, including 14 December. We are not intimidated by this, but it doesn’t give us much margin for delays either.

But what if weather conditions maroon us at Union Glacier too? What if our plane is unable to land at Bay of Whales? How much bad weather and lying low can we manage during our ski trip? What speed can we maintain at 3,000 metres elevation up on the Axel Heiberg Glacier? Amundsen’s dog teams only needed four days. There isn’t a ghost of a chance that we will manage that.

But on the other hand: what if we get a few days with good sailing winds on the flats of the Ross Ice Shelf. How much of Amundsen’s head start can we recoup then? Cecilie Skog maintained a daily average of 25 km when she crossed the entire continent two years ago. We have two depots. She had none. Obviously, Cecilie is made of pretty stern stuff. But we have Ulvang. Other “comparable” expeditions have also averaged around 25-30 km per day. We ought to be able to do the same. We ought to be…

If we calculate a one-week delay setting out, four days of lying low because of severe weather, allow two extra days for the climb up AH, and remember that we should actually reach the pole 13 December, that requires us to cover an average of 30 km per day. We should be able to make it..? We should…

The answer to the question at the beginning of today’s blog is: We sit here, calculating and speculating back and forth. All to no avail. Perhaps we ought to adopt the philosophy of Jan-Gunnar’s eldest daughter:

“A couple days’ delay doesn’t matter – when you’re already 100 years behind Amundsen…”