Man Hauling 101

Date = 18/12/2017
Day 28 (Expedition), Day 34 (Antarctica)
Location = California Plateau
Coordinates  –  86° 35.846’S, 143° 29.197’W
Altitude =  2072m
Temperature =  -15C
Wind speed / direction = 0-2 knot
Windchill = -15C
Distance travelled = 1km
Distance remaining = 1367km

Mark describes his love of man-hauling:

I hate Leo Houlding! I’m towing my pulk, It’s heavy, 100-120kgs. But it feels much heavier, I’m sure I’m towing it and Leo is just standing there; reading a book, having a drink, or talking to his GoPro, while I drag him and his pulk up the Scott Glacier. Eventually I have to look back and check. It’s sadly not the case, he is working just as hard hauling his own pulk, and the rope between us is slack. I don’t hate Leo.

Maybe it’s my pulk I hate? Na, everything in it I decided to bring. I turn my mind from hate to enjoy and think of other things; home, friends and family. Things I’ll do when I get home. How the mind wanders…… until I hate my pulk again. It must have rolled on its side and I’m dragging it. I look back and no, it’s just a small piece of sastrugi, or even just high friction snow, acting like sandpaper. Head down, I pull harder.

Man-hauling while roped together – a love/hate relationship

My foot plunges through some soft snow, into a small crevasse, my shin smashed into the hard blue ice edge. I pull my foot out and sit there on all fours while the pain passes, then stand up and carry on. This day was 10hrs, comprising 50 minute shifts, followed by 10 minute breaks. It’s mundane, hard work, like being on a tread mill, nothing seems to get closer. But it eventually does, and I strangely find myself enjoying it. Until Leo sits on his pulk and I have to start hauling him again…… 😉

Man-hauling sounds like a very chauvinistic name, but’s there’s not really a better name. It’s brutal, but it all depends on the snow surface. The Scott Glacier is rough, sastrugi, ice bulges, weaving around crevasses, over small hills of ice, mostly high friction snow, big stretching steps over crevasses, skis slide backwards as the pulk hits some sort of resistance.

But it’s a pretty special place we got to visit. Beautiful in so many ways, but harsh and everything we do is hard. Navigation , weather, the climbing and kiting. But we’re coping well and still laughing. Right now we’re sleeping in after 5 days on the go. It’s snowing, calm, and moderately warm. It’s a rest after travelling 100km on our kites yesterday to gain 36km forward (a lot of tacking into wind). Our next leg is 50km across wind so there’s no point walking. It’s a 3 day man-haul or a 2-3 hr kite. We’ll wait for the wind and I think we still have some bacon and eggs left for brunch……


Meanwhile Leo has been sat on his pulk, bird watching…..

They said I was crazy but I knew I’d seen it yesterday! It came to visit today and hung out very inquisitively for a while.

Bird description – Looks like a sea bird. 70cm nose to tail, approx. 1m wing span. Dark grey on the back, light grey underneath, white flashes underside of wings. Unusual proportions. Large thick body, proportionally very small wings.

Very curious flew within 2 metres and sat and watched us for an hour.

Whats the bird?
What is it doing here?
Is it common to see them or any other living thing at 86S?


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