16 December 2014
While there's not much to see on the map above...see the representation below of where we'll be trekking in Antarctica.
The first red dot is Union Glacier base camp, where we'll be staying to begin acclimatization and completing a practice one-night expedition.
We'll then fly to 88°S to begin our 222km trek to the pole.
28 November 2014
...this is continued from the previous blog post
8:30am After a final kit check, we harness ourselves up to the sledges and march off into the distance. We will ski for 2 hours, then rest for 15 mins; ski for 2 hours, rest for 15 minutes; ski for 2 hours, rest for 15 minutes and a final 1.5 hour ski until we have travelled for 7.5 hours total, with 45 minutes of rest. In this rest time, of course we will have eaten lunch and had a hot drink from a flask but it is important not to stay still for long so that we keep warm enough.
|What a forecast!|
|Building up my core strength for dragging a sledge|
5:15pm This brings us to the evening routine, when we will erect the tent and an area in which to cook. We can change into ‘tent boots’ which are less cumbersome than the ski boots we’ve been in all day, then sort out our damp clothes and boots from the day as well as setting up the sleeping bags. This is an opportunity to write a diary for the day before dinner.
7:30pm Dinner will be a glamorous affair, consisting mainly of a dehydrated meal.
|I told you it was glamourous!|
We will be aiming to consume more than 5000 calories each day, so we will also have cup-a-soup and noodles, biscuits and fudge and more coffee with powdered milk.
This is our opportunity to communicate with the UK using the satellite phone, and my granddaughter will be blogging our conversations regularly so be sure to come back and read that. We will also have a tracker with us which will transmit our location every hour, so you can all see our progress across Antarctica. There will be a link on this website before we set off so you know where to look!
(The map above is from another Antarctic expedition)
It’ll then be time to go back to my sleeping area to tend to my sore feet, of course taking with me a pee bottle for the night, I don’t fancy waking up and having to go outside!
10:00pm Time to put on an eye mask and sleep, ready to wake up the next day and do it all over again.
This is only the outline for our daily plan, so I’ll be sure let you know afterwards because I’m sure it won’t be quite the same in reality.
26 November 2014
I’ve been very busy recently, speaking at various different places about my South Pole trip, and the questions which I get asked time and time again are all about the nitty gritty – what do you eat? How do you communicate? How do you go to the toilet?
So here’s a bit of a breakdown of what I’m expecting it to be like when two old blokes are dumped in the middle of bleak Antarctica! Bear in mind that it’s going to be light 24 hours a day so 7:00am is an arbitrary measure!
7:00am We wake up in our little red home – a tent which was previously used on the Walking with the Wounded expedition in 2013 – still wearing our clothes (you’ll all be glad to hear that I won’t be stripping down to my birthday suit unlike Alexander Skarsgard!) and pack up the sleeping bags and mats, then brush off the ice on the inside of the tent (!) and start the breakfast process.
Breakfast will be an enticing mix of granola and milk powder, mixed up with melted and sterilised ice and chased by an instant coffee.
We’ll also make up our lunch of cheese, nuts, chocolate and biscuits at this point along with a sweet powdered drink to keep our energy and hydration up while we’re moving. We must have our food to hand throughout the day, as any time spent rummaging through the carefully packed sledge is wasted time when we’ll be getting cold.
|We don't want to get any colder than we have to!|
8:00am Time to put on the amazing Norwegian Alfa boots and peek outside for the first time of the day. We will use the opportunity to go to the toilet in the relative shelter of the tent (...in a bottle) before packing up the sledge, checking our ski bindings and taking down the tent.
Now, Conrad is a military man and has a strict tent disassembly routine which will mean that when it comes to the end of a long day of battling the katabatic wind of Antarctica (this means that whichever angle you approach the South Pole from, you will be against the wind since altitude is increasing) we can whip up the tent in five minutes flat.
|Katabatic wind - one of our hazards|
I don't want you to doze off while you're reading, so I'll end this blog here and post the rest of it soon!
Thanks for reading... please don't forget to follow me on facebook and twitter which are updated much more regularly.
31 October 2014
Whoops! I’ve got rather behind with my blogs…it’s all hotting up in South Pole HQ, with lots of exciting publicity, training and kit to think about. I hope you’ll forgive me!
|My new training technique|
Approximately 25 miles later, I was glad to reach the excellent Twice Brewed Inn B&B where I enjoyed some decent food and a sleep.
On Saturday morning, Conrad picked me up and we travelled to his house, not far from Hadrian’s Wall. We spent the whole weekend going over plans for Antarctica; clothing, skies, safety, first aid, and food. We also practiced putting up our tent (we are hoping to hone it down to 5 minutes flat) and Conrad showed me how to train by towing tyres behind me.
After an enlightening weekend, I resumed my walk of Hadrian’s wall on Monday morning. Starting back at the Twice Brewed, I walked the second half of the trail along to Newcastle, where I leaped on a train back home to Surrey and was home for 9pm. I was less lucky with the weather, but at least I missed hurricane Gonzalo!
Thank you Conrad for an excellent weekend in your beautiful home. I’m now feeling really positive about the challenge ahead. Just a last few bits of kit to buy before I’m 100% ready to go, and I’ll keep ploughing on to develop my fitness.
23 October 2014
Running is so important for my South Pole training, because it ensures that I am aerobically fit enough to take on the challenge. I want to be so over-the-top fit that that’s just not an issue while I’m gone…the mental challenge is tougher to train for!
The second race that I signed up for is the Royal Parks half marathon, running around the beautiful Hyde Park and past London landmarks like Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.
It was a beautiful day to run - cool, autumnal and clear – but as 16,000 runners and I stood at the start line with my knees knocking and my warm up wasted I was wishing for a little warmth! After 40 minutes’ wait, I had reached the start line so kicked my stiff legs into action and off we went.
Not long afterwards, I was surprised and delighted to see my brother and his wife waving and shouting at me…so I ran past pretending to be much less stiff than I really was! At mile 7 and again at mile 10 I was happy to come across another raucous gaggle of supporters, what a boost!
At the Great Langdale half, back in September, I finished in 2h 20mins which included a few serious hills, not to mention a mile or two of running around lost… So I was feeling hopeful that I could finish this relatively flat half marathon in under two hours. However, midway through the race I could tell that I wasn’t on track for that time but just couldn't will my legs to move any faster! I felt as though I could have carried on running at my pace for hour upon hour but not an iota faster!
In the end I finished in 2h, 10min and 11 seconds. Not my aim but still pretty respectable for 58 I think. I waded through the crowds, popped in to see the fantastically supportive people at the Bowel Cancer UK tent and then rejoined the family for a cuppa by the serpentine.
A fantastic day, very well organised by the Royal Parks Foundation – particularly if everyone had brought eight supporters like me - that would bring the grand total to 128,000 people to manage! I can now hang up my running shoes for a while and focus on building strength…including dragging some tyres around some fields…
Thanks to the family for making the day so special, I was so touched that you made the supreme effort to watch me trudge around the parks.
9 October 2014
As I’ve been following the same training routine for while now I thought it might be interesting to share it with you all. I’ve really been enjoying my training, especially since we’ve had an Indian summer, but I have to say that I haven't quite unlocked the joy of running that so many people claim to!
I started off aiming for three, three hour runs each week but as I’ve seen my fitness improve I'm now running approximately a marathon each week - across the three sessions - in much less time. The Great Langdale half marathon took me 2hrs 20mins to complete (with a little detour and plenty of hills) so I'm aiming to complete the Royal Parks half in under 2 hours. If you’re there look out for me in my Bowel Cancer UK t-shirt!
|limbering up...and off I go!|
When I'm not running, I’ll generally hoist my weighted jacket and a backpack full of bricks on, with total weight of 30 kg, and go for a long walk with the dogs. I aim for around 26 miles a week but at the weekend if I have enough spare time I'll go for even more and make the most of being out in the fresh air. I’ve just added a couple more bricks to the backpack, bringing the new grand total to 40 kg. This aspect of training is important as it strengthens my core in preparation for hauling 50 kg of equipment and food behind me in January.
After each session, I'll strip off and jump in the pool (I’ll spare you a photo as I really do mean strip off!) which is heated by any excess power from our solar panels, so is not too cold at the moment but I think will be rapidly cooling from now on - all the better to prepare me for Antarctica!
This past weekend I enjoyed two great runs around the Devon cliffs and two big swims in the sea at Gara Rock and Prawle point – very invigorating! Thanks Adam Bryan for helping with training!
I’ve also changed my diet; after my bowel cancer I no longer eat red meat, I've cut out all alcohol and I feel fantastic! I'm amazingly energised and have watched my body shape changing after many years of over-indulgence, which is really encouraging.
|Benefits of health and fitness...look like a madman!|
2 October 2014
When I signed myself up for this South Pole challenge I decided that I was going to take the training seriously. I really wanted to incorporate the Great North Run, but was unfortunately too late to enter so I entered myself in the hilliest alternative…the Great Langdale half marathon in the Lake District, where for parts we were running up hills of 1:3 gradient!
I got up early, put on my bright green Bowel Cancer UK singlet and jumped on a train at 4:35am, arriving in time for the start at 9am. I had to ask somebody to store my bag under her cake stall as there were absolutely no facilities, and when it came to about 9 everybody stopped milling about and someone said “shall we go then?”. So off we all ran into the rolling Great Langdale hills!
It was an absolutely glorious route, beautiful in every direction. We were periodically marshalled in the right direction until suddenly the group of runners I was with realised that we hadn't seen anyone in a while and that we had just run down a rather large hill…so eventually we spun around and ran back up to find a sheepish Marshall pointing in the other direction!
Despite the confusion and dramatic nipple chaffing from my new singlet I had a fantastic time and would love to take part again.
I'm now looking forward to the Royal Parks half marathon which I’ll be running on 12th October and following that I’ll be walking the route of Hadrian’s wall from Carlisle to Newcastle with a 35kg backpack. I’d best go and get my running shoes on!
30 September 2014
I can’t quite believe that this is really happening, but there’s no going back now! Today I went to the bank to pay the final balance to the Antarctic logistics company, plus the flights are booked. Our tiny team of Conrad (the arctic guide) and myself will be flying via Madrid and Santiago to arrive in Punta Arenas after more than 24 hours travelling, before going on to Antarctica three days later.
When we get there, after landing on an ice runway, we’ll spend some time acclimatising to the cold – the coldest ever recorded temperature is -89 degrees – but we’ll have the relative luxury of a permanent tent for the night and even a heated mess tent! Not for long though, after a practice 2 day expedition we will pack up our 50kg each of kit and food and get taken to the start point of our expedition… 222 long, cold kilometres away from the pole.
I've just been looking up some facts about Antarctica to share with you all (for example...did you know that there’s no time at the poles because there’s no longitude… so you can choose your own time zone?) and I've found out that Antarctica is “the largest, coldest, driest, and windiest desert on Earth”. Suddenly it sounds rather scary! However, training is going very well and my next post will be about the Great Langdale half marathon, where I managed to get a few photos.
not so scary after all...penguins on Antarctica
9 September 2014
I'm an adventurer at heart; my friends and family always say I'm mad but I can't help constantly looking out for my next challenge. I've climbed, skied and toured the Alps for many years including the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt and climbing Gran Paradiso and around Mont Blanc. I spent the most amazing and challenging 17 days 3 hours and 30 mins sailing across the Atlantic from Gran Canarias to St Lucia in 2010 and I’m a keen cyclist, having done the London to Brighton bike ride more than 25 times along with numerous charitable bike rides around the UK and Ireland.
|Skiing in the Alps|
Many people ask me why I didn’t raise money during these challenges, with the honest answer being that the thought didn’t even cross my mind…I did it just for the doing of it, for the challenge, because there’s a huge world out there to experience!
I have always given to charity through my life and have never been sure about asking since I know we are all so generous in our giving.
Then, 18 months ago I undertook a slightly different challenge: I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my nephew. This was after my diagnosis of bowel and skin cancer, and after surgery on my bowels, muscles, lymph glands. At this stage I was not aware that my prostate would also be removed along with a variety of other bits and pieces.
I did this trip simply because it was there and I needed some goal to recover my life in the crazy thought that lightening would only strike once, not three times!
But now, at the age of 58, I am going to attempt to walk the last 2 degrees to the South Pole. Through this expedition I will be supporting two causes that are close to my heart:
Bowel Cancer UK: Bowel cancer is the second largest early death killer but this is only the case because, like me, we are all completely ignorant of the signs and symptoms. This challenge will be undertaken in the memory of a good friend of mine, Gary Williams. He was also diagnosed with bowel cancer at around the same time and a similar age to me but passed away on Sunday 10th August.
The Voice of the Listener and the Viewer: Public service broadcasting is probably everybody’s greatest source of unbiased information on the radio and television but in 2016 the license fee has to be re-negotiated. However, no political party wishes to discuss the issue because they all know it is a graveyard (excuse the pun!), so I am setting out to spark a debate on the subject. I believe without it the incidence of early death cancer, ill-health and higher costs to the National Health Service are inevitable through the inability to spread awareness. This is a realistic way to improve the survival rate of bowel cancer.
I intend to use this blog to keep a record of my preparations and my journey, and invite you to support me and follow me along the way.