Don's diary

March 3, 2000


God - it is tough today. A white-out all day and with no sun to navigate, we have to stop and check the compass regularly to ensure we do not go off course.

The snow has the consistency of marshmallows, the skis sinking in four inches with each "'step". It's like pulling the sledges through treacle. After ten hours we wearily put up the tent.

The geographical positioning system tells us we have managed nearly six nautical miles.


Starts with a call for heart rate. We all groggily check our pulses. With 24-hour daylight we create our own structures, often rolling hours on and having 25 or 26- hour "days".

The cookers light and the morning tent routine commences. Melting snow (and sleeping) take up all our time in the tent. We have to melt ten litres just for drinking water.

Poor visibility again today and we rake up a respectable nine miles. It is only -23F outside, but with no sun it is cold inside the tent tonight.


Two of the cookers are playing up, so it takes an hour longer to get off after breakfast. The tent poles have frozen and, before they can be dismantled, the sections have to be warmed using our hands. My feet feel like two blocks of ice and begin to warm up only after two hours' skiing.


We speak to our base camp manager via our BT Iridium. We confirm our position and general conditions, and receive messages. I get one from my family and another from colleagues at the University of East London. This encouragement makes the time spent out on the ice seem much shorter. Thirteen miles today.


Caroline has a deep blister on her heel, and has lost half a tooth biting on frozen chocolate. I dress the heel and pack the tooth before we set out. The sun is out and it makes such a difference. It is so strong in Antarctica you can feel the warmth of it on your back even in -24F. Thirteen miles.


I attach the solar panel to the tent to recharge the batteries for the communication and video equipment while we sleep.

As well as collecting meteorological data, we collect information that we hope will contribute to a better understanding of the behaviour of a woman's body in extreme conditions. Among other things, we test our pee daily and monitor our moods and exertion levels. Twelve miles.


Despite being up to nearly 5,500 calories a day (our calorie intake is designed to increase as we get further and higher and the temperature drops), I can feel that I am starting to lose weight. It almost seems impossible to eat enough for the energy we are expending. I finish my day's ration of chocolate after the first hour of skiing. A total of 284 miles completed, 3 to go!

Zoe Hudson is senior lecturer in physiotherapy, University of East London. She was a member of the first all- female expedition to the South Pole. The team reached its goal last month.

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