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.

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.


  1. Lin and I are so pleased for you on such a remarkable achievement, Patrick.
    A triumph for the human spirit and body, and such determination against the odds. Congratulations to you and Conrad.
    Enjoy the comforts of home - and a well earned rest. Lance & Linda.

  2. Hi Patrick, Well done and congratulations to the both of you!! Great effort and very interesting reading your updates. All the best, Asmus