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.

11 February 2015

Like an astronaut back from Mars

So I left you all when I was waiting in Union Glacier for the last opportunity to fly back to Chile in order to catch our scheduled flights on the afternoon of 21st January. didn't happen. The conditions at Union Glacier remained incorrect for plane landing, in order to pick us up and take us back. This was frustrating for us, but there was such a bottleneck there that some people had been waiting for 8 days, so we should count ourselves lucky. Union Glacier itself was a glorious sight after 13 days of flat, white landscape in every direction. There was clear skies, no wind, and a beautiful amazing mountain range.

Union Glacier houses the most astonishing selection of people; I immensely enjoyed several fascinating conversations with amazing people. They included a bacteriologist and a world leader on climate change who - would you believe it - was once a student at St Bede's school just a few miles away from my home! I learned how we can manage cancer by food, which entirely depends on the individual, and am looking forward to telling people about this in my presentation series.

The coincidences don't end there, as the headmaster of local Caterham school, Julian Thomas, had only a few days previously completed his trek to the South Pole all the way from the coast of Antarctica and in Punta Arenas (which seems to primarily be a holding ground for people travelling to/from Antarctica) I met people from Norwood hill who know some family friends!

We ended up flying into Punta Arenas on one of the last flights out of Antarctica of the season, arriving on the evening of 21st January (just five hours later than we should have flown home!) and staying there for the day before flying home on the morning of 23rd January.
The arrivals hall
The collection party at arrivals

Happy to be back on British soil

What a welcome!

As much as both Conrad and I were desperate to get home after what ended up being 18 days on the ice (and 11 days trekking), Punta Arenas felt positively luxurious. The reality is that even in the days preceding the walk I was camping in the snow at high altitude and very low temperature, with no access to washing water or flushing loos. We also spent a day and a half training at Union Glacier before going forward to 88°S, which in itself was no mean feat.

So now I'm home, and I feel like an astronaut back from Mars! All the ends of my fingers and thumbs are numb, as are the toes on my left foot. My long sight has gone haywire after having almost no horizon to look at for so long, and I've forgotten some of the simplest words in my vocabulary. This is because my body had started switching into survival mode, where it discards the less important functions in order to keep you alive. I've been assured, though, that all will come back.

I feel very proud of my achievement, and am told that I've now entered an exclusive club of Antarctic expeditioners. Approximately 24 people have achieved what Conrad and I achieved, which was to walk the last 2 degrees or 222 km to the South Pole. Exponentially it is 3-4 times more difficult to walk this distance than to walk 1 degree and in some respects, is very nearly as difficult as walking from the outside for the following reason: one degree tends to be very fully supported, tends to be in a relatively easy time frame and tends to be within reasonable access of safety and rescue. Two degrees, you start without any support, far too far away from any rescue opportunity. You arrive at the South Pole plateau at 4,000m and therefore altitude is a huge problem whereas when you walk up from the coast, you slowly adapt to altitude and therefore there is not nearly so much of a problem. The next issue is that as you get onto the plateau, the snow gets colder and therefore becomes far more difficult to drag ones’ sledge thus the movement over the ice at lower levels is much quicker because the ice is warmer and the sledges slide more quickly and the closer you get to the Pole, the more difficult the effort becomes thus at two degrees, there is a much greater effort, the extremes of temperature and environment are much higher and the shock to the body is far greater. 

I'm now embarking on a pro-bono presentation tour to continue the awareness campaign, and I hope many of you will come along to one of these...details at the top of this site.

Redstone FM

BBC Surrey Breakfast

BBC South East today

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