During the rest of the morning I spend most of my time walking between the Met hut, the cook tent, and Max, who is mostly tinkering with the Cessna, to ask him if it’s time yet. I start to feel like Laurence Olivier, playing the fanatical Nazi ex-dentist in Marathon Man, interrogating Dustin Hoffman and continually asking him, ‘Is it safe?’ Hoffman has no idea what to reply or what Olivier really wants to hear, so first replies negatively, then positively, then changes constantly as Olivier keeps boring relentlessly into the root of one of his teeth. I am probably boring everyone with my enquiries although they all take it in good part. In the end we are down to my raised eyebrow and their head shakes and shoulder shrugs. Eventually I can anticipate their responses just by the slant of their heads or the position of their shoulders.
Antarctica Travel Images Photo Gallery
As the hours roll by I slow my pace as I don’t expect any affirmative reply. Time relentlessly moves on until it is close to 1 p.m. I finally accept, as much to my own relief as everyone else’s, that today we won’t be going. Ian has left all the chasing and motivating over the last few days to me; he seems to have sunk into a kind of stupor in which he has no control over any events and must await the outcome of what ever will be. Another time I might have argued that he was being Zen-like and showing extreme patience but I know that this isn’t the case. Zen, often misunderstood by those who haven’t studied or learned any, is not about doing nothing and waiting for something to occur. It is about doing everything you can to make something happen, but then not being brought down if it doesn’t. A form of
Zen I often use when climbing or trekking is known as kinhin. It is a very active Zen, full of strength and will keep you battling beyond your normal capabilities.
There are several Antarctica Sun Times to read but I’ve soon worked through the whole lot. In one there’s a cartoon of two visitors being asked by the camp manager what they’ve been doing all day. Just behind the tent, dwarfing it, is a gigantic snowman; I can certainly understand the joke, although not necessarily appreciating it at this moment. I must accept that I have done all I can do for now and I will bow to the inevitable. Today we will not be attempting to reach the Pole. Tomorrow is another day.
Now I really have had enough of people. I want to be apart from everyone in the camp, kind souls though they are. I must be on my own. I decide I’ll trek out again and the camp managers willingly agree. Perhaps they would also like some peace. They ask me to be cautious in my climbing and not to attempt too much. I promise to return for dinner. I’m so anxious to set off I don’t want to wait for lunch and Fran makes me some cheese sandwiches. Additionally I take a full thermos of hot water, apples and bananas. Also, of course, plenty of extra clothing including my large parka and a ski stick. Rachel Shepherd, another camp assistant (camp is a noun not an adjective!), kindly lends me her portable walkie-talkie, to call back in case of any emergency and shows me how to operate it. It doesn’t seem difficult and I think I understand. Let’s hope I won’t need it.