But there was no time to waste in a race to become the first person to cross Antarctica alone from shore to shore without any aid or support. So when O'Brady and Louis Rudd, a captain in the British Army, unzipped their tents and saw the misery they would experience on the 23rd day of their journey, they confronted it like it was any other day. They would consume warm fluids and high-calorie snacks, and push through the unmatched exhaustion that comes from hauling a 300- poud Norwegian sled, known as pulk, for 10 to 12 hours. Each day these two competitors, who have been traveling miles apart from each other and have not communicated each other, have emerged amid an icy desert to battle the elements and one another. They've felt pain and frustration, taken risks and shed tears. As they skied through the whiteout on Monday, they stared at compasses strapped to their chests to stay on course toward the South Pole, unable to see up or down or side to side, with their sleds catching on wavelike ridges of ice known as sastrugi; forcing the occasional tumble. On this expedition, for both men, tripping and falling hard -- countless times -- is all part of the schedule.
O'Brady wakes up at 6:10 a.m. and lights his stove on the ice in the vestibule of his tent. He boils water for this morning meal of oatmeal with extra oil and protein powder. While he finishes breakfast, he empties his and packs his pulk. By then, it's about 7 a.m., which is when Rudd wakes up and lights his stove, which he also rests in the vestibule of his tent. Rudd's day starts with instant hot chocolate -- he's carrying more than 15 pounds of hot chocolate powder in his sled. He also eats a freeze- dried meal of porridge or onions and eggs. It's all about calorie loading on an expedition like this. Though both men consume as many calories as possible , they still expend more calories than they take in. After all, there are only so many calories someone can carry in a sled and still be able to move it.
Both men also struggled to manage their perspiration. Sweat can be deadly in a polar environment because moisture can freeze on the skin when motion stops, which can send core temperatures plummeting toward hypothermia. Both men independently addressed the problem by skiing in just their base layers to stay cool and swear-free. Their exertion kept them plenty warm despite the subfreezing temperatures. They have been climbing more than 9000 feet from sea level to the South Pole (altitude 9301 feet). They have felt the incline but haven't always seen it, even on clear days, because there are rarely any points of reference they can use to gauge slope or distance. "You know by the pulk," Rudd said. "You're suddenly working 10 times harder. You look around and you can't teel you're going uphill, but you must be because you can really feel it."
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