Recently watching a documentary about an Everest ascent that did not go to plan I was struck by the cost of hubris. The climber’s desire and determination to be the first to summit in that season, and significantly, to be last off the summit that day despite rapidly deteriorating weather conditions was an act of sheer hubris and lack of respect for nature that almost cost him his life.
There is a sentiment that is much used in Scotland: that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing decisions. There was no room for bad choices or decisions when it came to kitting myself out for the Antarctic Odyssey. Helly Hansen stepped up to the challenge and agreed to sponsor my kit
As it transpired our delay turned out to be an additional 5 days at the Union Glacier camp as successive weather fronts moved in over the continent from the sea.
It has taken me a while to write this entry, but I wanted to do it justice and so have waited until I felt ready and there was enough quiet time available to write. This was perhaps one of the most amazing and influential days of my life.
This was a much needed rest day, especially as I was getting virtually no sleep. It had been -10 in the tent overnight, and I have to say, a pretty miserable night. As ever, after a marathon, there was a lot of adrenalin still in my system; that always makes sleep a challenge, but then add the light and the cold and it was a recipe for an uncomfortable night.
The sunshine, clear blue skies and reflected heat of the sun of the previous day had disappeared, it was cloudy with a light wind and sporadic snow shows. The cloud lay heavy over the hills and visibility was slightly reduced: rather like home really.
I stood looking at the things that were laid out on the bed: thermal base layer, mid layer of ski pants and warm top and 2 pairs of merino socks; a double layer beanie, down jacket, liner gloves, fleece gloves and down mitts, sunglasses, sun block and lip screen; snow boots.
15th – 16th November, Travelling Travelling from 13.20 – 18.20, a total of 29 hours travelling: that was tough and tiring, not to mention dehydrating.
After the heart stopping realisation en route to the airport that I had forgotten to lift my MP3 player, which required an about turn followed by a speedier rather more frantic drive than intended to the airport, my journey to Punta Arenas was uneventful.
Cheese alert: this is where I come over all sentimental, gushy even. It is my Sally Field, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet moment.
Before I head off on my epic adventure at the end of the world I want to say thank-you for all of the support that I have had so far.
I have watched and re-visited an interesting and diverse selection of Antarctic films during my planning and preparations for the Antarctic Ice marathons.
The Scots have a good track record with this event. Wendy MacKinnon won the first Antarctic Ice Marathon in 2006. Dr Andrew Murray won the marathon last year (2012) setting a new course record. He then completed 50km in Antarctica before continuing on to do a further 50km on the remaining 6 continents in under a week. Shona Thomson who completed the marathon last year has gone on to become the first Scottish woman to complete a marathon on all 7 continents
Conversations with the uninitiated: back by popular demand. Banter: the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks. I think that it can be said that there is a fair amount of banter going on between my ultra uninitiated friend and myself. It is fun and it is interesting to see things from his perspective. It is probably also keeping me grounded, giving me pause for thought, and it is probably contributing to that healthy dollop of nerves that I am feeling.