Monday, November 21, 2011

From my 1st camp on the ice!

82:25.90S 65:04.84W

Today was the REAL start to the adventure!

Knowing I was going to be flown to the Messner start point today, I had a bit of a restless night in the tent, and woke at 05h30, to a strong wind, that reduced outside temperatures to around -20 C and I was thinking that these are not the conditions I was hoping for Day 1! Anyway, it was good wake up call, and shocked me away from the 'beach weather' mindset I'd almost been lullled into believing was what the trip would be about. I then went into a bit of a headless chicken panic, thinking of what to wear and all the normal pre-adventure 'worries'. I have to admit I was feeling very apprehensive and confused. Anyway, a cuppa coffee and some quite time thinking through it all, switched me back into excitement mode.

Magically, 1 hour before we were due to fly, the wind droopped and my world looked a lot rosier...

The two-hour flight in a cramped Twin Otter to the start point started with truly magnificient Antarctic mountain scenery, andd then there was an hour of true nothingness, before we circled and found the official start point, and touched down for a perfect landing, in ideal, virtual windless conditions. It was very special being with Ruth on this flight, and we exchanged special words for our alone togetherness for the next 35 or so days. I felt a strange emotive pang, that ended in a question: " Do we really have to do this apart?" I'll miss her in many ways but I know these 35 days will bring special personal rewards and our sharing of that is where the specialness comes in. It was hard though, saying goodbye at the start as I headed off alone.

Well there is only one way to describe the 1st day ski: Very hard, and very sobering! The snow is quite soft, so the sled rails dig in deep making pulling a back breaking toil...I never expected this, I thought I'd be flying along, gliding effortlessly on the ice, clocking up the kilometres. I ended up having to stop and put my skins on the skis to give me more traction. Sometimes I just came to a stop as the sled hit soft snow and sunk in.... Hmmm, I'm sitting in my tent thinking about doing 10 hours of this tomorrow: It will be REAL tough and I long day!

Anyway, I sit here in my tent having just had a huge, hearty dinner, rewarded myself with a whisky coctial, not sure what for though...probably a morale booster, as I do feel a bit down about how tough the going is. Its stop start stuff so one can't get into a rythm, and that prevents me getting into the 'production zone' when the hours and kilometres fly by... Anyway, it's day 1, and I still have to go through capitulation point....the body and mind will adjust!

On the wonderful side, it's hard to explain what it's like being in my little tent on the ice, no sounds around, perfect silence, flat ice horizons, 360 ar0und me, its 9pm and the 24hr sun is high in the southern sky..just very unique and special.

I'm off to bed now, rest and 5am wakeup, with a big day important mind adjusting one!

See ya tomorrow



  1. I will definitely be following your journey, I can't comprehend how you take on such a challenge on your own! It's AMAZING! Good luck.

  2. I am in awe as ever! I too am going ski ing next month ha ha not quiite the same trip I have in mind ! I know u will have an incredible journey. Best wishes from deepest Devon x

  3. Wow.
    Howard. I'll be thinking of you on your ice journey.

    Looking forward to your posts.

    Really hope you are safe the whole way!

  4. Hello,olá, from the Azores, good luck friend,I hope to see you soon.

  5. I think you are happiest when you are thousands of kilometres away from all of us !

  6. Awesome! Thinking of you out there and sending cheers your way.

  7. The aloneness of it all is mindboggling, Howard. Either you are incredibly courageous or majorly deranged. And I don't know if there is any difference between the two!!
    So looking forward to following your adventure and wishing you success, every step of the way.
    Enjoy. Patrick

  8. Wow..and I was complaining about how cold it was here this morning.....hmmm..I will harden up and think of you ..out there in real chilly conditions! Looking forward to reading all about it ....enjoy xxxxxx

  9. Hi Howard ,
    6 days of rain here & people are moaning,Your journey is a reality check.I now appreciate & enjoy!
    Thanks for the detail description.

  10. Hi Howard,
    I'm sure it will take a couple of days to adjust to the enviroment that you have been dreaming of. You will find a way a getting that sledge to move better and it will get lighter as you go, and that snow could just move off with a good wind. Wish I could come and give a shove! watching you from London Penny and Mark xx

  11. Howard, enjoy every moment ,I wish you a safe and awesome trip and a wonderful experience, be safe and I look forward to see you again,
    good wishes from Frank Tucker, Silvana Jewellery Studio Noordhoek Cape Town

  12. Howard, please share your feelings of the attraction, and what you draw from going on a solo trek into what must be constant challenges, not much comfort, and possible danger. Safe travels friend, and am happy to tag along from my computer chair and cup of coffee, looking forward to all your posts! Sandy

  13. Heya Howard, from now on you will be in my thoughts every day until you are safe and back in 'our world' !
    Enjoy the journey in all its glory and all the other bits.
    I am humbled by your courage!
    Warm hug from Sydney!

  14. Hi Howard, late comment but congrats on the first day, all wishing you well from SA, and have a good second day!Martin

  15. Good Day Howard, Goodonyer...what an awesome challenge. Do you have enough whisky for 30-35 days ? Thinking of you. Good Luck. Peter S..

  16. Good luck Howie, a meaningful life is the only one worth living and Im inspired by the extreme passion you have to live in the way that suits you best- on the edge and discovering that where others fear to tread. (I'm curious to hear about snow and ice changes out there as climate change impacts on the poles.....) sending positive thoughts and wishes, megan

  17. Howard - thinking about your journey every day, mate. Bet it draws you back to the sailing lark!! Good on you. Graham, Siun and Ben