Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 34: The Whitest Christmas I'll ever have...! No Father Christmas so I gave myself a present!

89:37.353S 80:35.807W

Anybody out there? All at Christmas celebrations......?

A MERRY CHRISTMAS from just near the South Pole, TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES!

Inching south to the end goal, just under 23 minutes of latitude left...42km!

Elevation: 2802 metres. Into the final 2800s, the plateau does have a few unexpected 'inclines'...

So it's Christmas day is it? No Santa, no decorations, no public holiday, in fact, just the same as yesterday! No, well, I did give myself a present: Only 8 hours march today, and had two luxurious relaxing hours doing 'nothing'... Sheer bliss!

I say doing "nothing", but what I did was so overwhelming it brought tears to my eyes: Firstly, I got nice and comfortable in my tent 'armchair' (yes, I have one, an indispensable item!) put my Father Christmas hat on, and then downloaded the past 3-4 days of your comments that Dominique kindly sent through on her Christmas day.... Well, guys, as I say I was overwhelmed, so much so I shouted out with joy: "This is JUST bloody incredible...Very, very SPECIAL" From all over the world too.... I'm truly lucky, and can't say how the blog and level of interaction has taken 'Solo but NOT Alone' to a level I could never have dreamed....Thanks for being such a key part of my amazing experience!!

What was great was reading about your Christmas preparations / arrangements etc, it took me right into your world too.... Simon takes the 'Belonging' prize with his 28 'people' dinner! Patrick and Brigetta take the 'most spiritual turkey' award, and Sandy gets the prize for the 'least whitest Christmas', because you SHOULD always have snow there where you are!

Please could I ask: If you comment, but aren't on the email list, could you please 'sign up', as I do want to get back to you all individually once I get back to Punta Arenas, and can really savor reliving the whole thing by reading it all in chronological order again. Thanks!

So for today:

The weather was a bit like yesterday: something of everything! I had very warm (-8C) temperature to start, then, clear skies and cold tail wind, then virtual whiteout, even snow, no wind, and finally a strongish headwind, with real poor visibility... Hmm, it's not over yet! The terrain is good up here on the plateau, but the weather is very changeable....

I've decided (if I can try and manage the last 42km) that I'll do it in two steps: 27 km tomorrow and then, 'last wilderness sleep out', and then 15 km 'final strait' to the 'finish post' the following day... That'll be my 27th Dec.

For those runners out there, all I have left is ONE standard marathon! Gee, that feels good! But why does it take me so long? Haha, polar travel requires patience!

Still haven't seen anyone else yet! Just white, and more white...

I can feel the 'end of expedition' mind creeping in: I'm find it difficult to find 'the zone' as my mind races to the finish, meeting Ruth, decisions on kiting, etc. I try and force it back into the minutes of the current march, but it's quite challenging. The mind is a VERY complex and challenging piece of us, hey! The source of all our thoughts, quite simple yet incredible!

That's it for today, enjoy your Monday holiday too...



  1. Glad you enjoyed your Christmas. Not far to go now. I'm sure you're going to make it in good time :) All the best.

  2. Dear Mr Almost -There! Wow, the incredible solo journey is coming to an end. I haven't quote worked out how I am going to cope without my daily "Howard Fix" yet ! You are so close, I am sure you'll be able to smell the Pole ( and its human inhabitants) by the end of today.

    I am most impressed that you are even thinking of grabbing a kite and head out into the white wildness again. Are you made of Titanium? :-)
    All the best for today, Look forward to your thoughts on the last stretch.
    as always, a very big hug. Lynn

  3. Dear Howard,
    I've thought of you so many times during the last weeks as I've been frantically making preparations for Christmas and opening numerous cards with jolly snowy scenes. I was trawling through photos of Amelia and Dan's wedding and came upon the ones of you and Ruth: relaxed and short-sleeved on that balmy June day - what a contrast. I have told so many people about your lost Thermos flask! I think that represents for me your great resilience : how you just got on with it and found another way, even though it meant ditching the whisky.
    Christmas is a time of giving, and I've thought a lot about the gifts we receive, often without the giver even being aware. We went to a Christmas 'living nativity'service(real donkey, baby etc)with lovely music and singing. Those singers and musicians (some of them friends of ours) just did it because it's what they like to do. For me it was a lovely gift. And you - there you are doing what you like to do, but you're sharing it with anybody who'd like to receive it. Thanks Howard for that gift to us. I love what you say about that complex thing the human mind. Believe me, you don't need to be in extremis for it to do odd things!
    Toodle-oo for now and I hope the last couple of days go smoothly for you.
    All the very best to you and Ruth for a wonderful New year.
    Alison Russell (Amelia's mum) x

  4. We were unable to send you our best wishes for on Christmas. We were brought to tears too....reading how apreciative you were of all the love sent to you. May the last bit of your venture be made easier by all our thoughts, love and prayers. Irmie

  5. Your patience has been huge - patience with nature/weather, patience with your mind and the tricks it tries to play on you, patience with your body and foot, patience with the slow pace of eating through the kilometers. Patience until you must want to scream out.

    I have often been struck by what you write about and the parallels with trading in the market, which is after all where you came from once upon a time. The market also teaches humility and patience. It's just a f**k of a lot warmer sitting in front of a computer screen at home.

    Take care on your last stretch. Giles

  6. Howard, you stole my thunder....i was going to comment on the standard marathon. i really can savour this last leg with you....what a mixture of emotions. I'm going to have tears in my eyes when I read your last one.
    And I've saved them all so I look forward to reading them again once you've made it home safely. We're leaving for Knysna tomorrow for 2 days with friends and then up the east coast for 2 weeks with friends. but i am taking my laptop just so that i can keep in touch with you....breaking my golden holiday rule about switching off.
    be safe....peter & pat

  7. What an incredible achievement Howard and only double digit k's to go...
    Enjoy your final days of solitude in the wild and savour them, as you will carry the memory with you forever. You deserve the record and the kudos for even dreaming to take this on.
    Such big balls Howard!!!

  8. Christmas to me, is about love, and when we have love, we always have something to give at Christmas. It sounds to me like Christmas found you at the South Pole, Howard, and I think we all meant it to! The finish line is so close, and I am humbled by you and your journey and will truely miss this opportunity to go where I'd never be able to go, and your personal sharing of thoughts and feelings that came through so genuinely and are an inspriration to me to always speak my own truth at the moment, knowing that in 10 minutes it may be different, but always at the time, it was my truth! What we think, how we feel, what we say should match..that is our truth. Not as easy as it sounds. Thanks again for yours! Take a nap, Howard, then take me along to the next adventure!! Sandy T.

  9. Hi Howard
    Great to hear from you - we all are getting more and more nervous as you get closer to your goal.
    Christmas in SA has been extremely hedonistic on the food front and it a pleasure to read your blog and not to eat.
    looking forward to the next 2 blogs

  10. Howard, I can only imagine the emotion that goes with each step you take now, each km down and each hour under your belt.... I think back to all I have done in the last month since you have been trudging away in your ice/snow prison and it's hard to believe that you have been going at it for over a month putting in 10 hour days, not seeing anyone or having a face to face conversation with anyone. I am jealous of how fit you must be! I have one burning question, that I have been wanting to ask for weeks, but it has to wait until you are at the pole. I am also curious as to how the last few days of this expedition compare to the last few days of your north pole expedition. Actually I look forward to hearing your comparison of the two as a whole. Enjoy the rest of your journey.
    Praying the weather cooperates. Love R,B,J&J

  11. Hi Harold - well done for how far you've pushed yourself, and for having the spirit to enjoy Christmas. Quite something. Vincent and Rupert and I are in London (no white Xmas - the 3rd warmest on record) but we are watching Attenboroughls new series on the poles so were thinking of you last evening, Christmas, away in your manger at the bottom of the world!. Merry Christmas and say hi to Southern Santa.

  12. Hi Howard, I can see that coiled spring is just rearing to let rip!! Keep breathing and laugh your way every step of the way, from hereon to the South Pole. Then I expect you to do one helluva Irish Jig around the pole, and please get someone to catch on video, so we can enjoy it with you later!! What an awesome journey, you are not there yet, but so so close. We'll miss your reports. Our challenge will be to take that advenurous spirit into our daily lives and give it a real blast. Approached in the right way, life is a superb adventure, every day of it. Take good care these next few days and enjoy. thank you for everything. Warmest wishes Patrick and Brigitta

  13. Howard, I find myself "wordless" in a way, as so much has been said, but I want to add my wishes and thoughts for a safe and truly memorable final stretch. I found a wonderful Freedom this morning hiking up Kasteelpoort to the top of Table Mountain, and looked down onto the Prison of Robben Island, "poles" apart so to speak, yet within sight of each other.

    You have fought a good fight, you have stayed the course, you have kept the faith.

    I salute you.

  14. Hi Howie,
    What you mean anyone out there we are all here ,check the blog out.Probably 1000s more that don't put pen to paper.Or will read your book in time to come!.
    I am so pleased that I have played catch up & now with you.Please accept my belated greeting-have a blessed Christmas & travel safe.Especially with only a few last steps relative to the 900 odd ks.
    Its a great honor knowing you & spending solo time with you & living your daily journey.Emotions are high!! Keep it tight.Focus,purpose & goal..
    Watch out for Mother nature mind & looking tooo far ahead.But good planning..
    Interesting listening to the mind,Now at Blouberg..
    Well done Howie,he careful no injuries.

  15. I am curious to know what happens when you get there; do you have to go knock on the door and see if they have room for you?! Or do they expect you and are tracking your progress and will have the red carpet ready?

    Enjoy the last stretch of you adventure.

  16. Hello H
    Similar to the run-in to the end of the quarter - still alot of uncertainty, but the big prize just waiting - certainly be a special time to savour - maybe the equivalent of a week of celebrations at Icebergs!!! Enjoy it all, you are deserved of it - and thanks for the daily time and effort at the end of such tiring and varied days, to share with us this special and unique travel experience.
    C & J

  17. are almost there...Merry Everything xxxxx
    Janet and Chris xx

  18. Howzit Howard, good luck with the last stretch. I've been following you with interest on a daily basis. Amazing, well done.
    Cheers, Willy

  19. Voerspoed Fairbanks, I am sure you can "smell the coffe" now and almost taste the whiskey. Hopefully we can toast together when you get to the end. Give us a skype mail and we'll have one for you.
    Well done

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