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.

12 January 2015

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."

1 comment: