Monday, 11 May 2009

NIALL: DAY 18, 10th MAY

It wouldn't be an expedition if you could guarantee that you would succeed. Two days ago one of my bindings broke. No bother, we have two spare skis. Yesterday my second binding broke so I adopted the second spare ski. No more room for error. This morning was bitterly cold. I glanced at the thermometer as we clipped into our skis and it read -23.7C and the wind was up too, making it frightfully chilly. Conditions were good though. The wind was behind us and the snow was frozen solid. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. We both looked forward to another 30km day. Muzz casually asked me, "are my bindings the same make as yours, oh no, I spoke to soon, this isnt good mate". Woe of woes, Murray's binding had just broken. After 5mins of playing with paracord in -24C outside our core temperature was dropping fast so we erected the tent as quickly as possible and got in our sleeping bags to warm up. We bought in the offending ski and our bag of spares." We could use this toothbrush…", "we could try this cable tie"," if we make a large wooden badger…". But all to no avail so we got on the phone to Matt Spenceley at Expedition Greenland, "the standard polar procedure is to saw off the three pins at the front of the binding, attach some wire to keep your foot pinned down and use some bungy around your heel to keep your boot as far forward in the binding as possible, got that?" So out came the Leatherman and we got filing. The whole procedure took ages and we were experimenting as we went. And for lack of wire we used paracord, of which we had a healthy variety. Finally, by 2pm, we were done. At last we packed up and hauled out, delighted to be on the move again after an expedition threatening mishap. 30mins later the paracord snapped. Not to worry, I've got some even better paracord in here. Sure enough it was better and lasted nearly 2hrs and then that snapped too. Finally we reached a solution - I uncovered a couple of metal clips that would prevent the paracord from chaffing and we were away. We hauled until 8pm over similar ground to yesterday - patches of fantastic frozen snow interspersed with areas that feel like a quagmire to haul through. Murray's polar elephants bare their tusks when a crust of snow is frozen over a soft layer underneath. It makes for might tough hauling. We were delighted to make 15.1km today and hope to bash out 30km again tomorrow but who knows what might happen hey. When we finished at 8pm it was -21.4C. Tonight will, Im sure, be our coldest yet. Were happy to be on the move and are confident that we can fix any recurring problems rapidly should they continue to blight our journey. It's freezing and late so its time for me to bed down as Ive got to be up early to make breakfast. Tonight's position is 66 47.699'N, 45 33.320'W, elevation 2195m. Goodnight all.

N.B. The support team checked in with Niall and Murray last night and they were in high spirits despite suffering somewhat from the extreme cold that they've been experiencing these past few days. If their paracord fixes to the bindings hold out they expect to finish in 7-8 days time. Don't forget to make a donation to our chosen charity Help for Heroes at

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