After arriving at the pole and getting through my feeding frenzy I slept for 14
hours straight so must’ve been quite tired!
Flight to Union Glacier is delayed so at the south pole camp for a third night and making use of the mess tent grazing, drinking hot drinks and spending some time talking with two other soloists Wen from China and Richard Parks who both had arrived within 24 hours of me. Wen had set off from Birkener Island and Richard had completed my route in just 28 days in an attempt at the record. Unfortunately he didn’t achieve this but now has the 2nd fastest time. Later yesterday afternoon Ryan Waters, another polar and high altitude legend came in with his team Jaco and Paula and we all started comparing our experiences.
Quite nice to find others found the same difficulties and weather conditions at similar times.
Now that I’ve had a couple of days to let it sink in it all seems quite surreal.
To be only one of about three dozen people ever to have done this (Hercules Inlet to SP, solo, unsupported and unassisted) makes it quite a unique feat. I am so happy with what I have achieved and makes all the time and effort I have spent in the last year worth it. At times it was all-consuming but overall I am pleased with decisions I made on training, kit choice, food, strategy and a whole host of other things. In hindsight I could have been lighter in some respects like spares but that is a lottery I don’t think you can play with. All my kit performed as well as I’d liked with only my boots showing signs of deterioration.
The personal toll has been pretty light too. My cheek and chin have taken cold burns and a small spot on my chest too. My inner thigh had some cold damage but is healing nicely and I can’t stress how happy I am that my feet came through largely unscathed without a single blister. All my finger tips have lost an amount of sensitivity but that will come back. I am still walking with bandy legs and my eyesight seems to have returned to normal after not being able to focus on anything further than a few feet on my arrival.
I had a weigh in yesterday and came in at 82kg which is a whopping 23kg lighter than when I started! That’s over three stone and I’ve got lots of loose skin to fill up again now so I’m really looking forward to doing that. I now have more hair coming out of my ears and nose than the top of my head but the sides have grown enough to leave me looking like a monk.
I should be leaving Antarctica on 20th then back to the UK by 23rd and before I know it I’ll be back at work.
I don’t think I’ll get time to sort my appearance out before I board the plane home so will arrive in the UK looking like a tramp!
This experience will never leave me and it will be hard to relate it to anyone I guess but I have made lots of friends here and shared some great times and experiences, particularly our road trip to Argentina.
A huge thank you for all the support and messages back home. I will be able to catch up with those when back in civilisation.
I would also like to thank those who have kindly donated and would urge those who haven’t yet to do so if they can. Every amount no matter how much will all go towards finding a way to allow other diabetics lead better lives. By undertaking this trip I hope to have given encouragement to other sufferers that the condition doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot lead a normal life (but skiing to the south pole doesn’t have to be part of that!!)
I would like to extend my thanks to Heart Internet, CurraNZ, Expedition Foods, Primal Pantry for their sponsorship and products and discounts and also to the following; All ALE staff at UG and SP camps especially Devon McDiarmid and Steve Jones back in the UK for all of his assistance and guidance, Rhodri at Nordic Life for sourcing kit, Caspar and team at Nordic Outdoor for sourcing my tent and other kit, Helle at Mail-a-sail for sorting my comms, Megan at Braemar Mountain Sports for sorting my skis, Mark and Bridget at Care for Health, Rob, Katherine and Yvette at Lucks Yard, Dr Ralph Manders for nutrition advice, Geoff and Tom at Portsmouth Uni for the cold chamber testing, Anthony Goddard at zerosixzero for the tracker map and finally the biggest thanks to John Crooks who kept you all up to date with my blogs every day for over seven weeks without fail even over the festive period so I am extremely grateful to John for this.
Finally I’d like to say that I have been very fortunate and lucky to have undertaken such a huge project and I am grateful to all others who have helped along the way. That’s it for now. Time to relax and think about completing the Munros and doing normal trips that don’t cost a fortune both in money and body weight!
It’s worthy of note that as I’m writing this (17th Jan), Captain Scott and his party arrived here at the South Pole 108 years ago this very day but in very different circumstances. Quite special to be here on that anniversary.