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.

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.

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