Join Patrick at one of his public presentations to hear about his experience of Antarctica.

5th March 2015 at Canon (UK) Ltd, Reigate, 6.30pm
This event is organised by Royal Society of Arts, Surrey. Click here to register.

14th April 2015
at the Lloyd Hall, Outwood, Surrey, 7pm
Join Patrick for drinks and nibbles. For a free ticket please email or phone 07551 255544.

20 January 2015

So what happens at the South Pole?

we made it!
We were hoping to hitch a lift out of the Pole on Sunday evening, a day after arriving there. We got our South Pole photos out of the way, then set about packing up our skis and sledges ready to be on our way. That's when we got the notification that the weather wasn't right and we wouldn't be flying.

I'm sure you can imagine that killing time at the South Pole is not too easy, but we had a quick tour around the Amundsen-Scott Station on Sunday and then on Monday we found some bicycles - I cycled "around the world" in 80 seconds!

We were in good condition after a couple of days rest and recovery, I even had 11 hours of sleep on Sunday night, despite still sleeping in a tent and still not having had a shower.

Life at the South Pole is a bit tricky. It takes 10 minutes to prepare to go anywhere, because to get from the relative comfort of one tent and another is -30 degree weather, requiring several layers!

Anyway, we eventually got a flight out of the South Pole - the last one of the season, so we're pretty lucky, to Union Glacier.

There was a huge storm roaring through Union Glacier so at the end of the five hour journey was an extremely hairy landing, but we're all OK. We landed at around 2am (Chilean time) and were hoping for another flight back to Punta Arenas just six hours later, but it was cancelled due to the storm.

I'm currently waiting to hear whether we'll be able to hop on a flight tonight, our last opportunity to get to Punta Arenas in time for our flights back to the UK.

Wish us luck!

19 January 2015

Get me out of here!

After plenty of photos at the Pole, we were hoping to fly back to Union Glacier at 21:00 GMT yesterday, but flights are unpredictable here and it was cancelled.

More info soon I hope!

18 January 2015

Q&A from the South Pole

Did you ever doubt getting there? If so when?

The second morning, I woke up and Conrad shot off like a rabbit out of a trap. He was doing an average of over 3km per hour, and I was only able to do 2.5km per hour. I was physically exhausted from the first day and my body really hadn't adapted to the conditions, the temperature and everything else.

So that was a bit of a shock, but Conrad gave me a severe talking-to and by the middle of the day I was moving more freely.

I think apart from that, there was no other point in which I didn't think I would make it. Because Conrad has such discipline and organisation, and is such a good guide, he can monitor my mental and physical performance against the task ahead. 

That is to some extent why we got here in 11 days rather than the 15 days that we had planned for...because he knew exactly how to balance my physical and mental state in such a way that we moved through the Antarctic plateau reasonably well.

What was the biggest surprise?

Seeing a sun-dog was the most amazing... I've taken a photograph of it, I hope that comes out.

The biggest surprise was the fact that I've had no skeletal or internal problems, I think the diet we were on was absolutely excellent. I'm amazed that I arrived here in such good mental and physical state and by the fact that all the equipment worked, and that we got here in 11 days rather than the 15 that we planned for. It's all an extraordinary surprise.

And also the fact that the body eventually adapts to being able to live, camp, eat, sleep, walk etc at these extreme temperatures and in these brutal, absolutely brutal, environmental conditions.

Did you see any animals?

None whatsoever - I can assure you, the only thing here is ice, and sky, and wind. It is completely and utterly dead for a thousand kilometres in every direction - totally sterile!

What thoughts of Captain Scott?

We were just discussing this this morning, and in fact I reported it to BBC Surrey just now. The enormity of the way in which those chaps got here a hundred years ago, and managed to work out where the South Pole actually was. Because as you get closer to the South Pole, the magnetic variation sends your compass out of the window.

So, yesterday we were some 41° West of the South Pole, and as we sit here in our tent this morning we are 25° East of the Pole...and yet we can see the South Pole from the end of our tent. So how on earth these guys could work it out, and be accurate, would have taken them forever. Yesterday when we went out to do a whole load of photography at the Pole, I got frostbite on my nose, my hands felt like they fell off, but these guys 100 years ago didn't have anything like the sort of equipment and clothing and all the other bits and pieces that we had today to keep them warm.

They would have been absolutely exhausted from having to walk all the way here as well, so to actually get here and then work out that they had actually found the South Pole is, I think, beyond imagination. You just have to take your hat off to these people! The determination to get it right with poor equipment is fantastic.

What have you missed?

Oh...a shower. I just long, long to stand under a shower!

[I bet the people around you also long for you to stand under a shower] - well Conrad and I smell just as bad as each other, so we think we're wonderful!

What are you happy to be away from?

Well, I'm very happy this morning that I haven't got to put my boots on, put my kit on and think about dragging my sledge for another seven hours across a frozen wasteland.

What were you happy to be away from whilst walking?

It's a bit like being in a Quaker meeting for days on end. I was very happy to have the opportunity to really drill into my own self and to have hours and hours and hours - because you can't talk while you're walking, you can't hear anything because there's too much wind - so it's a bit like being in a trance. The trance allows you to pre-think wonderfully, so you can think through all sorts of problems and you have the time to think about all sorts of things, that when you are at home you just never have time for. There's always a phonecall coming in, an email, somebody needing something, something needing to be done. 

Once you're forced into this regimented environment, it's a real cleansing experience mentally.

"Guess where we are?"

Position: 90° 00 00S, 000° 00 00W

We arrived at the South Pole, after 11 days and 222km at 7pm GMT (4pm our time), to a wonderful reception. We've already had a cup of tea and I feel a million dollars.

How was your last day?

It's been very cold today, with a cold wind. The weather has perked up since yesterday, it's been much clearer and sunny.

We started an hour early today, we were up at 5am and on the move at 8am so were walking for eight hours.

What did you most want to eat or drink when you reached the Pole?

I would most like to drink green tea, and to eat a bowl of fresh fruit.

What was your best and worst moment of the whole expedition?

The high of the journey was the fact that I reckon I am the world record holder, at age 58, to have walked 222km at 4000m above sea level, at an average temperature of -30°C, completely unsupported and to have got here over 11 days in pretty good time AND to have absolutely no malfunctions in my body whatsoever. Every bit of my body; my bowels, my prostate, my legs, my arms. I have no frostbite, apart from a few nips on my fingers.

So that must be the most remarkable highlight that anybody could achieve! I can't believe that anybody in the world has managed to achieve what I have, so I feel absolutely elated about that.

There weren't actually any low points, in the sense that it was just an extraordinary experience.

We had some really bad weather days and we had some bad times like the stove didn't work one day...but really there were no low points! We had a really enjoyable time. We were in a rhythm, apparently Conrad will award me the scouts badge for tent erection but I failed on my knot tying badge!

But otherwise, everything has worked absolutely perfectly and I think we've worked brilliantly as a team together.

How long have you been able to see the Pole?

Aah now there's a question!

Last night, I got out of the tent after we'd set everything up (in order to do what one has to do!) and I said to Conrad "good Lord, there's something coming towards me" and he said "oh it looks like some kite surfers".

It was way, way off in the distance and I thought 'he's telling me a bunch  of porkies' because there was a great big black thing at the end of it which wasn't moving. But anyway, I let him go along with it.

Basically, we have actually been able to see the Pole station since 20 km away which is basically where we camped last night, and then we've been able to see it on and off today as the cloud has come in and gone out, all the way through the day. But it's taken us all day to walk from last night's camp to the Pole...that's the enormity of the place we're at!

How do you feel?

As we walked into [South Pole] camp I said to Conrad: this is extraordinary, to have spent 11 days at -30°C, completing a marathon a day and dragging a sledge, and then to arrive here mentally and physically absolutely in peak of condition, is incredible.

I mean I don't feel tired, I don't feel mentally exhausted. its just amazing and I think its a combination of Conrad's perfect planning, perfect guiding, perfect organisation of the food...and just general discipline and management of routine every day which has worked extremely well.

So, here I am... I don't feel as if I've done anything for the last 11 days and yet I know I've been through the most unbelievable ordeal.

Conrad reckons only about 24 people have actually walked the last two degrees, and about a further 200 people have walked from the coast to the Pole, so I'm in a very small group of humanity anyway.

I have to say an enormous thank you to everyone who has supported the trip, it has been a seriously amazing experience and your messages have kept me going.

17 January 2015

The penultimate day - Friday 16th January

We completed 21.6km today, and despite the bad weather had a good day which means we are still on track to reach the Pole tomorrow.

I'm very much looking forward to the last day of the trip, tomorrow. We are going to start our day tomorrow at 5am and get skiing as early as possible! We're hoping for slightly better weather tomorrow, too.

I'm very excited to see that Pole, and know that I gave this challenge my absolute all. I hope it makes a difference.

To think all these months of training and preparation have lead to tomorrow!

16 January 2015

Check out my 2nd interview on BBC Surrey, aired 15th January

Thursday 15th January

Position: 89° 38.93S, 078° 39.67W

38 km from the South Pole

How was your day?

Terrible. It was thick, thick fog. There was no horizon. We couldn't navigate, I felt sick because I didn't know what was up and down and sideways...we've got another two days of that, apparently, all the way to the Pole.

Conrad spent all day staring at a compass. I had to shout at him a few times when he got completely confused and started veering off in different directions! He did bloody well though, he did absolutely incredibly well.

It was a slow old day but we still did over 20 kilometres. And then when we got to the tent, the flipping stove wouldn't light! So we've been fiddling about, and Conrad's rebuilt one of the stoves, so luckily we've now got some hot water.

A pretty demoralising day, generally.

at least it isn't quite mid-winter! (this is filmed at McMurdo Station)

We were going really quite slowly all day long, there was one bit in the afternoon when we picked up a bit of speed. But it was only for a short while and then the weather closed in again and it became too stressful.

Do you know of anybody else that's near you?

Absolutely not. Apparently we are on our own, everybody has gone through who is going to go through and we're probably going to be one of the last people arriving at the pole this year (season)

We aren't aware of anybody else, and apparently they are closing down the station pretty soon after we arrive if not when we arrive!

They may actually only be waiting for us, we aren't sure.

I'll speak to you tomorrow after what looks like another horrible day ahead!

The weather should be clearing up just as we finish the expedition...great!

15 January 2015

Wednesday 14th January

Position: 89° 27.89S, 080° 28.01W

59 kilometres from the South Pole

It's been unbelievably cold, but we managed our longest day yet...we've done 21.6 km. So we're definitely on, weather permitting, for arriving on the 17th.

There's really nothing to report, other than that I'm breathing a lot better and everything else is fine.

It's a really cold wind here, right in your face. It takes the temperature down from say -25°C to -35°C, so you'll see loads and loads of photographs of me with my face just completely caked in ice.

How many layers are you wearing?

Errr...I'm on 5 body layers, 3 legs, 5 socks, 4 gloves, 4 hats. It's pretty brutal!

Poor old Conrad's zip is broken, and yesterday he ended up having to wear one of my jackets, poor chap. He's on at least four layers!

You can listen to Patrick and Conrad's excellent BBC Newcastle interview from this afternoon below:

(the quality improves after the first crackly bit!)

14 January 2015

Tuesday 13th January

[coughing] I've got a bit of a chesty cough but I'm OK. We had a long march today, we've done 21.7 km.

Awful weather - walking in a pea soup with a howling gale, very cold, but we got there and everything's fine.

It was really difficult navigating in today's horrible weather. We had no waypoints to be able to work on to.

We're very happy today because we've hopefully only got four days to go.

Some questions from readers of the blog:

Q: How are you finding putting up the tent with all your kit on?

We've got it down to a fine art; in fact, this evening putting up the tent was almost a Rolls Royce effort... I even got a complimentary comment from Conrad on our tent erection abilities.

I felt very good about it, I must admit.

If only the weather was this good!
p.s. to Amy, who asked the question...I'm wearing the skins that she gave me, some time back, every day. In fact I haven't taken them off for about two weeks can imagine how much they smell! They are wonderful.

Q: How are your pills doing? Is your breathing improving?

They're actually doing incredibly well, I was going to ask you to email Simon Mtuy (click his name for an amazing video) to say that I hope he's tracking our progress, and that if it wasn't for his pills (Homeopathic Mountain Climbing Kit) I don't think I'd have been able to make it. It's working unbelievably well so I'm very grateful to him.

Q: How are you finding the 24 hour sunlight?

Really, really weird. You wake up in the middle of the night and the sun is high in the sky, the tent can either be freezing cold or boiling hot - dependent upon whether there's any solar gain. It's just the strangest, strangest thing!

In fact we could quite happily set any time we like, the only reason we are on GMT-3 hours is because that's what time Union Glacier base camp are on. It's easier to work to their time, in case we have an emergency. Just before we call you, we call them and so we have to use their time to fit in with their schedules.

When we get to the South Pole, believe it or not, people there are 16 hours ahead! So we'll arrive in the evening, and they'll be getting up for the morning. How weird is that!

(P.s. the people who work at the South Pole scientific centre work on New Zealand time, which is the cause of the time difference. Patrick and Conrad will continue to work on Chilean time because the plane which takes them back will be from Union Glacier, therefore is working on Chilean time also.)

24 hour sunlight

Watch my Sky News Sunrise interview from 29th December 2014

12 January 2015

Monday 12th January

The altitude has really got to me...after an evening of real breathing problems, I was feeling a little better since finding my homeopathic altitude pills. However I was certainly not back to normal and I ended up upsetting my breakfast all over the Conrad's annoyance!

We trudged out of the tent for our seventh long day of trekking. Today we skiied through a deep pea souper all day, we couldn't see a thing. The high point of the day was when Conrad stopped walking, drew a line in the snow and said "that's the first degree done".

111km down, 111km to go. Quite an unsettling thought, but at least we are on the home straight.

My homeopathic medicine proved to be working as I didn't have as much trouble with breathing as I did yesterday.

After making camp once again, we settled down to our delightful dehydrated meal and Conrad spilled his dinner all over the tent. At least I'm not alone!

My iPhone is doing fantastically as a method of entertainment to while away the hours of trekking, I downloaded plenty of music and it isn't using much battery. Luckily I also brought a spare set of headphones, as the first set are well and truly departed.

I think if we really push it, we may be able to achieve our goal of reaching the Pole on the 17th January - the 103rd anniversary of Captain Scott's arrival there.

To do this, we will have to complete more than 20km each day, which is seriously hard work. I hope I'm up to it...I'm sure many of you know that I'm competitive and I can tell you that Conrad is too!

It was great to hear today about everyone at home who is behind me, although my wife Sue is worried.

A special thank you to Dame Judi Dench, who lives locally and has supported the cause.

On the whole everything's good, we're really wonderful,


Antarctica Q&A and updates

Friday 9th January

Position: 88° 33.19S, 080° 05.73W

Completed over 20 kilometres, a great achievement and bringing us tangibly closer to our goal. 
I was absolutely exhausted...the lack of oxygen combined with the high wind and temperature below -30°C was getting to me and Conrad was whipping me on!

We have to brew up litre upon litre of snow to keep us hydrated tomorrow.

Is it as tough as expected?

"It's far more difficult than I thought it would be"

Biggest hurdle?

"The altitude is the biggest problem"

Was training worthwhile?

"Yes, the training has really paid off"

What would you change?

"If I could change anything, it would be to get a helicopter and go to the Bahamas!

"...but apart from that, I love Conrad to bits and apart from the fact that he's beating me up every day we seem to be moving along fairly well. I think we've done slightly more than a quarter of the trip and with a bit of luck we might get there in nine days if the weather stays fair!"

Listen to Patrick answering these questions

Saturday 10th January

Position: 88° 42.81S, 079° 57.51W

Today we covered 18 km, and the temperature reached -40°C.
We saw sun dogs which are caused by ice crystals in the air.

A sundog - a halo around the sun

Amazingly, my feet are absolutely fine - Conrad was quite right about these being the only boots for the job. The poor boots were what let down many people on Prince Harry's Walking With the Wounded expedition.

Conrad's expensive jacket having a broken zip is extremely unfortunate, as I'm sure you can imagine in -40°C and high wind; he is having to lash it together with all sorts of things!

This is so much more difficult than I expected, I'm glad we're over one third of the way through!

Sunday 11th January

Position: 88° 54.04S, 079° 39.26W

(Phone call on Monday morning)

We weren't able to phone yesterday evening because I was exhausted and had huge breathing problems because of bronchial inflammation from the weather.

I'm able to phone this morning because I've taken homeopathic remedies overnight and this morning, and I'm much, much better. I'm hoping that homeopathic altitude pills will be my rescue.

The reason I'm calling:

Conrad and I reckon that doing this is worse than running a marathon a day. We're dragging a sledge that you're at 4000m altitude, at an average temperature of -30°C. That is why the challenge is so unbelievably do it day after day for up to 15 days!

Listen to Patrick say this, and hear the breathlessness in his voice:

Travelling to Punta Arenas and preparing for South Pole

A diary from 31st December 2014

Our 30-hour flight, courtesy of British Airways, Iberia and LAN worked perfectly from London to Madrid, then Santiago to Punta Arenas. A huge long flying time but all arrived safely including 109kg of luggage; sledges, skis, food and equipment – quite extraordinary to have got the whole lot here in one safe move without any interruptions, congratulations to the airlines!

Sorry to keep harping on about the baggage...but the above is especially true as apparently this journey is renowned for losing both luggage and people. Indeed, two people that we met in the luggage area at Punta Arenas had either missed luggage or people which were still stuck somewhere else in the world! One American's luggage was stuck in Miami, and another person’s partner had missed the flight because the connections had not worked as they should’ve done. Conrad reckons we are remarkably fortunate.

Punta Arenas is on the Magellan Straits, the sun virtually didn’t set last night – in other words it was still vaguely light at midnight. It is a pretty barren, desolate place at the end of the world and it seems most people are here because they are in some way involved in Antarctica; either touring to watch penguins & whales or walking or doing crazy things like exploring the Antarctic Peninsula.

Kissing Magellan's foot for good luck!
Double luck!
It is an incredibly small world because we bumped into a neighbour of Conrad’s and had dinner with him without either one knowing that they were going to be here.

The food is absolutely excellent, I had one of the best fish meals I’ve ever had and it was a three course, complete blow out with an amazing bottle of wine all for $20!

The people are unbelievably friendly and helpful and I mean that genuinely; they are extraordinarily helpful and generous.

Today is New Year’s Eve and I’ve sent a whole range of photographs of the Magellan Straits and various other bits of Punta Arenas but there is not a lot here.
Beautiful Lupins

looking over the Magellan straits

Map of the Chilean territory of Antarctica
Sculpture in Punta Arenas
We are spending the morning packing and putting our food into little bags of separate day rations. This will make it much easier when we are on the ice, to just grab what we need day-by-day.

15 days' worth of food
This afternoon we have a briefing on where we are going, how we are getting there, when we are likely to go. The dilemma that everybody has in Punta Arenas is you can’t be certain when you are leaving the place to get to Union Glacier (Antarctica base camp) because it very much depends on weather and logistics. We have to wait for a slot and then be prepared to move pretty rapidly to our departure point.

At the briefing
It seems unlikely that we will be moving forward on New Year’s Day because everything is shut and therefore we’ve decided to hire a car and go and look at whales and penguins and explore the area a bit more carefully – after all, when you are this far south, why not?!

Penguins on the Magellan straits (Pacific side)

31st December 2014

Just about to go out on the razz, as have organised amazing dinner and fireworks looks like the whole town of Punta Arenas goes to party!
The world's weirdest explorers

NYE fireworks over the Magellan straits
So I now know why Conrad has survived so many cold weather expeditions!

The skill in packing and pre planning is amazing, and has taken all day. Food, energy sachets, clothes, he's being brutal about weight allowance - gosh it's slow but worth it! 

Making sure everything is in the right place and knowing where it's placed is vital. We have set up the tent in a way that make erection fast and simple. 
Putting up the tent outside the hotel
Sadly we cannot get iPod to charge so it's not going and the GoPro loses charge so fast it's not going. We do have iPhone iPad and camera. 

Briefing was very good but storm currently at base camp (Union Glacier) so we expect to head out some time on 2nd Jan. Off penguin spotting and whale watching's been hot and sunny all day, all a bit surreal.

Happy New Year!

2nd January 2015

"Our next update in 10 hours of flight into Antarctica, probably. Will let you know in morning but if call comes we have to be ready to move in 20 mins so might be rushed"

3rd January 2015

"6.20am tomorrow (Sunday) we will set off.

"Today we did 18 km along beech to end of South American land. Totally wrecked shoes, had to buy more! We saw Dolphins and (we think) dead killer whale but it was floating a long way out. Wonderful spring flowers again and amazing bird life. Punta Arenas has a dramatic landscape.

"All ready to go, so the waiting is over. Will communicate if I can but if not await sat phone. Will set up time with you via base station, likely to be late evening."

9 January 2015

Thursday 8th January

Position: 88º 22.41 S  080º 08.25 W

Everything is good, we travelled 18.7km in 6.5 hours today and we're travelling really well.

The temperature is about -30 ºC...I get very cold hands when we stop to eat! It's a sunny clear day, though and everything is working.

Conrad is annoyed because he's broken a jug and the zipper on his jacket, but the equipment is generally absolutely fine.

Comment below your questions to ask Patrick and Conrad in tonight's phone call!

8 January 2015

Updates from Antarctica

Monday 5th January 

position: Union Glacier

The planned flight out of Union Glacier was cancelled last minute, but we had a really good training day. We skiied 32 km from Union Glacier out to a mountain, which went really well.

Hopefully we'll fly tomorrow - it's weather dependent. Unfortunately this is just what happens in Antarctica!

Tuesday 6th January

Position: 88° 03.056 S  080° 29.135 W (decimal)

(Satellite phone call to the UK was not received at the expected time, but two hours late)

Sorry for the late contact...we arrived at 88 degrees South, and began walking. We completed about 1.5 hours and pitched the tent late.

Everything is working out well so far...and we're finally on our way!

We averaged 2.96 km/hour, and are all very happy.

Hope all is well at home

Wednesday 7th January

Position: 88°12.399 S 079°45.323 W

(no sound through the Satellite phone, tried connecting a few times. Eventually got through, although with a bad connection!)

We completed 12.5 km today, and found it very arduous. We are hoping to do 18.5 km tomorrow.

We aim to do the whole 222 km in 12 days.

Please support Patrick's superhuman efforts in this expedition by clicking the 'donate' button to the right of this page. We have just reached over one quarter of the target amount, but we still have a long way to go!

What an amazing day - 29th December 2014

After all of the time spent planning, delivering presentations and lectures, and countless hours of training the day finally came!

setting off
Conrad had undertaken a mammoth 9 hour drive down from Northumberland with a van full of kit, to the spend several further hours meticulously packing everything into it’s rightful place.

The next morning, we were both up bright and early for a morning interview on Sky News Sunrise…very exciting as it was our first major national coverage. The interviewers, Gillian and Stephen, were very nice and I hope I managed to get my message across effectively.

Conrad getting mic'ed up
A rather daunting large screen with my face on it
On the Sky News Sunrise sofa
My ever supportive wife watching at home
We then leapt back in the car, to find a message from the very lovely Harriet Alexander, foreign correspondent at the Telegraph, confirming that her article about the expedition would be printed the next day.

Thank you to the Telegraph for an excellent article

On arrival back at home, I had a quick phone interview with both Redstone FM in Redhill and BBC radio Northumberland before I could relax into a big family lunch.

Penguin themed table...lunch for 24
I was so touched by so many of the family who made it to see me off on my adventure…and the amazing commitment to the theme (which seems to be penguins!).

Thank you to all my mad and amazing family
After a fantastic few hours, and a rendition of the family anthem “the little green frog” song, Conrad and I set off for Heathrow with a couple of helpers.

a very fitting vehicle to begin a South Pole expedition
At this point, the nerves were setting in and I know that Conrad was worried about the airline kicking up a fuss about heavy, odd shaped baggage (skis and sledges aren’t the most normal baggage items on a flight to Madrid!).

"just act casual"...checking in our oversized baggage!
When passing through security, we were stopped by a lady who said “you’ve had a long day haven’t you?” …amazingly, she had seen us on Sky that morning and recognised my slightly unusual outfit! A good omen, I think.

The final goodbye!
(If you’re wondering about the Scouts scarf, check out this video)

Our fears were unnecessary, as all 30 hours and three flights went incredibly smoothly and we were delighted to find that all of our baggage arrived in Punta Arenas on time and intact! Thank you British Airways, Iberia and LAN…I have met several people since who haven’t been so lucky!

7 January 2015

On our way!

Patrick and Conrad were safely deposited at 88degs South this afternoon and are currently making headway to the South Pole! Their progress can be tracked here

They are due to make camp any minute after their first half day of skiing

3 January 2015

Flying in to Antarctica from Punta Arenas

After the most amazing day on the 29th December, which I will come back to in an upcoming blog post, Conrad and I set off from Heathrow to fly to Punta Arenas. This is at the very Southernmost tip of South America so a good spot from which to get to Union Glacier base camp, our starting point.

We arrived without a hiccup, having been looked after by the very nice people at BA/Iberia/LAN, on the 31st December and all of our 5 checked-in bags even made it! 

We were expecting to spend around three days in Punta Arenas, so set about meticulously packing up bags of food for each day we'll be skiing, and taking our tent up and down so that we can put it up in the shortest time possible once we reach Antarctica. 

Packing food bags for each day...5500 kcals per day
Honing the tent technique in Punta Arenas

We then had briefings with Adventure Network International, who run the flights into Union Glacier, to discuss when we will be able to fly. I discovered that they conditions required are quite difficult to achieve:

- wind speed must be below 35 knots
- there must be good visibility (as it is a 'sight landing')
- temperature must be cold enough for 'blue ice' in order to hold the aircraft 

It takes 4.5 hours to fly from Punta arenas to Union Glacier, so it's very tricky to predict it right.

The type of plane we will be flying in to Antarctica on

Yesterday afternoon, when we were first hoping to fly in, the wind at the landing spot was 40 knots, there was low cloud and the ice was wrong so it was a no go! 

This evening, our next possible flight time, quickly became a no-go also. We must be ready to leave at 20 minutes' notice!

Our next possible window is tomorrow morning. We are monitoring the weather at Union Glacier on, where it shows that tomorrow will be slightly less windy (for knots, multiply m/s by 2) and slightly colder.

Forecasting for our flight to Union Glacier base camp

There's now a bottleneck of passengers building up; 10 scientists, 4 climbers attempting Mount Vinson, 12 walking the last one degree, 10 others who are just flying in and out and then me and Conrad (who are walking the last 2 degrees).

Our route across Antarctica

I'm struggling slightly; mentally I just want to go and get started after all this training, publicity and build up.

I met a guy yesterday who advised that he was delayed by 24 (!!) days a few years ago...hopefully history won't repeat itself! 

Sending everyone at home a very happy new year.