Friday, November 18, 2011

Scheduled to fly tomorrow, but the expedition challenge increases

It's REALLY starting to happen now, and there are some new CONCERNS:

I have just returned from helping load all our gear onto a truck that will take it to the airport ready to load onto the Ilyushin when it returns from Antarctica sometime during the night tonight. Each item had to be weighed, and I have about 21kg of gear and 53kg of food, making for a sled weight of about 80kg including the weight of the sled. Fuel still has to be added and this should take it up to about 88kg...Hmmm, that's a bit more than I was expecting, so I'll no doubt be consumed on the flight down working out were I can shed a few kilograms. This may also push me to the larger backpack solution I shared with you in yesterday's posting.

I also took the opportunity of weighing myself on the trucker's scale, and came in at 90 kg:  Ok, but I probably should be a bitter 'fatter' and heavier for the start of this expedition. I have been eating like a horse but somehow it has added the weight I was hoping!  Anyway, I will definitely be lighter at the end of the expedition, but I'll be interested to se by how much....  I guess at about 5 kilograms. I'll let you know what happens!   A picture of my 3 cartons of all my food outside the refrigeration storage we rented:

 Now for the Bad News:

I had a long chat to the guy in charge of the transport, and he had just returned from Antarctica after being at the Union Glacier base for the past three weeks, trying to set up the base, and also he was involved in the runway snow clearing operations.  He confirmed my worst fears:  The snowfall has been horrendous, and the amount of snow has changed the whole skiing terrain, and particularly at the Messner start area. There is now deep snow, that makes the going really slow, and also the snow will have covered what would have been previously visible crevasse areas. This isn't good news for me, and has had a very sobering impact after the initial excitement of the news that we would be flying tomorrow.  Apparently the going in the snow is so slow that one expedition hasn't been able to manage more than 16 kilometeres per day! I was planning on 30+ kilometres a day....quiet a difference, and it makes me quite concerned about my food and fuel ration planning. Anyway, I'm busy dealing with this information, and at the moment am thinking that it's probably being made to sound worse than it is....   Afterall this is also an adventure and the unknown and the unpredictable are all part of the 'fun' and adventure challenge equation. I sense this news is going to probably make for a bit of a restless night, and one of those uneasy awakenings in the morning!  Oh, well at least I am used to them by now....I was just hoping I was going to have a lovely, relaxed, last dinner with Ruth at the Club de Chile, and then awake excited for the flight ahead, knowing I'm ready and can't wait for the Antarctic ice ahead.

Here is a pic of Ruth and I having lunch at a lovely little restaurant not far from our appartment. Our table was appropriately situated next to a framed map pf Antarctica.

Interestingly, the guy who we asked to take the photograph is currently working for NASA and he flies virtually everyday from Punta Arenas, 12-13 hours around Antarctica surveying the ice, the sea under the ice, as well as the sea bed profile. This all done for 1000 ft above the ice from a DC -8 plane. Today was one of his days off. He certainly had some interesting stories to tell, and confirmed how amazingly beautiful the Antarctic Peninsula is from the air. He then spoke about the boring flat, nothingness in the centre and I had flashes back to my visualisation and how I will deal with the inevitable boring days.....  I'm hoping that as in Namibia, when I cycled those long straight, seemingly boring, desert roads alone, I'll also find to my surprise that it isn't boring but hugely spiritually stimulating.

And finally, a pic of one of the many wrecks along the Straits of Magellan. This one is on my running route, a few kilometres form the appartment. The view is across the Strait on a very, very calm day....  We have had a few, but more often the sea is just a mass of whitehorses.

 I'll keep you posted on developments, becuase we aren't flying until we are flying!


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