The last time I wrote a blog for Rab, I had just completed a training expedition to Haugostol, Norway. Although the expedition was a success, stress had consumed my mind and body trying to find the funding for the main expedition. I had less than 6 months to find £70,000. I was telling everyone that it was going to happen, that I would find the money, that I would break a world record. I worked so hard to find potential sponsors, drove up and down the UK to various meetings and never gave up. If someone said know I just redrew the list and started again with the same amount of drive and determination.
Next thing I know I’m rushing around getting my kit, buying flights, delivering a leaving presentation and then I’ve landed in Punta Arenas, Chile. This is the base of Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) who provided a guide for the expedition and the logistics as well. Myself and Christian, my Norwegian guide and now very good mate, packed food for the 61-day expedition. Meticulously weighing everything, removing excess packaging and making bags for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We shaved about 10kg between us which is essential on an expedition where your dragging all your kit. Our Pulks (the long sleds) carried all our food, tent, stove, crevasse rescue kit, sleeping system, spare clothing, repair kit, and fuel. Any weight we could save was critical to help us in the long run.
Arriving in Antarctica
Landing in Antarctica was something else. First we boarded a Russian Ilyssuian, an old remnant of the Cold War that is now used to for humanitarian relief across the world. Inside everything was exposed, hanging out of the fuselage. The noise was painful and we were stuck in that tin can for about 5 hours, a small TV screen playing live footage of our flight towards the frozen desert. When we got closer to the blue ice runway, a natural sheet of ice that is formed by high winds on Union Glacier, the reality of what I was getting myself in for hit me. Once the door opened and I stepped onto Antarctic Ice it hit my lungs and skin like a train. I couldn’t stop coughing, due to the exchange of temperature in my lungs! We spent a couple of days at Union Glacier waiting for good weather. It was my last chance to fatten up on good food. Then we took a Twin Otter plane to the Messner Start of our route. I weighed 86kg before starting, I had put on 10kg on top of my normal weight and I knew I would lose even more due to the extreme cold and physical exertion.