While gazing at the vast expanse of snow as far as the eye can see, amongst the panting and puffing of the 7th hour of hauling our bulky sleds I catch a glimpse of what can only be described as an elf. With his little green hat and curly ended shoes, the elf is having a pee against a 6ft tall red and white striped lollypop. The elf catches sight of me and, as startled as it is to see me and I am to see it, jumps into a nearby hole. The dilemma – do I follow it? The decision is made quickly and I dive down the hole. After struggling with going down this elf sized hole I discover that it opens out into a huge expanse of toys. Toys being made, toys being packed. At the end of the hole is Santa Claus. The story goes on and takes all sorts of twists and turns. It is simply extraordinary what your mind and imagination can distract you with in times of boredom and pain.
We’ve walked another 24.1km today, taking us ever closer to our summit of 2500m. We had a rise and fall of 20C with -17C in the morning and a tropical 3C mid afternoon and then inevitably back down for the night. Preparing for such temperature fluctuations requires a range of personal equipment and layers including my daily clothing system which includes a t-shirt/board shorts base layer followed up with skiing trousers and a breathable jacket with a coyote fur lined hood which totally encloses our faces and protects us from the bitterly cold wind and snow. If conditions worsen we have a neoprene face mask and an emergency coat and gloves which are lined with goose feathers, otherwise known as down, and act just like a duvet. After a long day and back in the tent and the games commence in order to decide who has to get out of their sleeping bag and make dinner.
Our position is 66 20.476'N 41 56.849'W