Pressure ridges are ridges of ice that have been pushed above the flat sea ice but the pressure of the wind and currents on the sea ice. We have to deal with these on a very frequent basis.
For many people these are troubling as they present a real mental and physical barrier to progress. I however rather like them as they are challenging to navigate and a break up of the monotony of just skiing on the ice. Some are easy with just a small amount of manoeuvring round football size blocks of ice, others are much more challenging requiring us to take off our skis to clamber through or over the ice.
We have our fair share of thrills and spills but luckily no one gets seriously injured.
Day 3 was a much colder and windier day and despite us all putting an extra layer on we were all struggling with the brutal conditions. The best way to deal with the cold is to simply keep walking and so we had a long day covering 12 nautical miles. It became quite a lonely day as everyone tried to hunker down in their layers and shut out the outside world. It is very hard to talk or hear others in such conditions, so even our rest stops which are our usual social times became shorter and merely functional. This combination of extreme cold, driving wind, isolation and trudging in at times near white out conditions were a real mental as well as physical trial.
Erecting camp that night proved very difficult as a number of people got dangerously cold and so were unable to help much and had to do star jumps etc to warm up and get blood flowing to extremities, leaving the rest of us to try and put up the tents in the wind! I have rarely been so relieved to get into a freezing tent before!
It later turns out that Keith, our guide who has skied to the North Pole 11 times, put this in his toughest 5 days ever at the Pole.
The downside of layering up is the risk of sweating whilst dragging the sleds and warming up from the exercise and quite a few of the guys had problems with wet gear by the end of the day. Part of the evening is spent drying gear over the cooker - makes the whole tent pretty warm and a bit like a sauna - a blessed change to the rest of the day!
Perhaps nowhere is it truer that we eat to live rather than eat to live than on expeditions - calorie count rather than flavour is the key attribute. But at the same time, a treat can make a big difference. Guy proved himself to be an excellent polar chef and produced superb tortillas and bagels and made excellent use of our dried meats to boost those dishes further for tough days.
Keiths' mum made a superb banana cake which weighed a ton whilst frozen (this provided stability for the sled) but came to life when heated with a bit of butter in a pan. The sugar caramelised, the flavour was released - ah, happy memories from cold, dark nights. Actually, the nights were very bright but very cold; at least you get my drift. However, best of all was the tiffin that I brought along. Basically, chocolate with biscuits, dried fruit and brown sugar mixed in. Delicious and just what you need after cold day when smelly, wet gear is drying close to your head! Thank you very much Mumple for taking the time to make these for us!
In one sense, it is pretty straightforward in that you simply need to head North. When you are in the Northern hemispere, the sun is always to the South of you swinging from East to West during the course of the day and pretty much due South at midday. I was therefore expecting that we would have the sun at our backs as we were walking showing that we were heading North.
In fact we were continually heading straight towards the sun which left me with a continual sense of unease about our heading. We had been dropped off by the helicopter on the same longitude as Australia and so were walking at local 'night' towards the day time sun in Europe which we were seeing up and over the pole ie North up to the Pole and then South down the other side!
Accounts and photos of completing the Explorers Grand Slam - 2 Poles and 7 Summits. By Sebastian Merriman. Aconcagua, Ama Dablam, Carstenz Pyramid, Denali, McKinley, Elbrus, Everest, Kosciusko, Kilimanjaro, North Pole, Arctic, South Pole, Antarctic, Antarctica, Vinson, vertigo, climbing, mountaineering, skiing to the pole, skiing to the poles, seb2poles7summits, seb27, Seb Merriman, seb2poles, mountains, poles