Day 37 – Reflection and too much energy…

Staying at Union Glacier camp is a unique experience once all of the expedition excitement has unfolded and the prospect of returning home is close.

If you add the two nights at the South Pole to this waiting period, waiting for the flight to Chile that is, it is 4 nights elapsed. It is 2.55 in the morning so I am either not sleeping from the high of the experience or I haven’t got over the 6 hours time difference but probably a bit both!

Opening the tent you certainly are welcomed and treated to the sight of the Union Glacier surrounded by the Ellsworth mountains. Absolutely stunning! The sun is shining and the temperature here at this low altitude is a comfortable -7 to -10 degrees.

I have walked over to the communal tent to get a coffee and write my blog.

Yesterday was for me another day of reflection accentuated by a real need to exercise!! I have been skiing for 8 1/2 hours a day and now nothing… so I grabbed a fat bike that you can borrow here and cycled around the 10k loop just outside the camp. The surface is a little changeable but generally good for cycling with the width and lowish tyre pressure of the bikes. I felt a lot better and with food so plentiful and good here it is great to find a balance.

I am also keen to try and write down all my experiences I have yet to log as these will fade from memory over time and I don’t want to lose anything. I have deliberately been open about my emotions and thoughts in this blog however I know my daughter and other young people have been following me and as such I have to temper this in some areas…. sorry guys, you need to be a little older!!

It is a grown up world here, harsh, brutal at times, living at the edge of mental and physical boundaries and I don’t want to forget anything. I am sure there is a whole book that could be devoted to toilet humour alone, if that is your thing!

I been planning a number of things that I mentioned yesterday about my 3 responsibilities moving forward:

  1. Continuing the fight against Cancer – I have, with a great deal of help, been promoting my story in the UK and I know that television, newspapers and radio have run my story. The key thing here is the fundraising link. I want the exposure, not for me personally but to drive the message of why? If you can help in any way forward links or promote the Cancer Research UK message and justgiving page it would be appreciated. All stories have a shelf life and I don’t want to miss mine. This is one of the reasons that with email the only access to the outside world from the Antarctic, the wait is a little frustrating.
  2. and 3. Promoting the importance of the Antarctic – this is something I do need help with. I want to visit schools and along with responsibility number 3, promoting the ability to unlock our inner power, I need to find funds to do so. I need business with a powerful social responsibility to help me create a legacy of positive change.

The sole recipients will be our young people and I know that this will resonate. I ask if anyone has contacts or close ties with business leaders who you feel would want to be a part of this and help create a legacy.

As I said yesterday, the challenges that the human race and residents of this planet will face need new and innovative thinking from the next generations of our young people. I am not so bold as to say I will provide the innovation however, i know I can help unlock the desire, determination and passion to look for change and address these challenges at an earlier age. This will help produce our visionaries, entrepreneurs and pioneers of the future.

Anything worth while takes huge effort, passion and conviction. These are the qualities I can talk about to help achieve anything in life.

I have agreed with Eric to bring the sled, kit and other items to help visualise the experience of reaching the pole. During my long days of skiing I went through various ways of communicating the messages and would like to thank Eric for his help

It is now 4.05 in the morning…. yesterday the ALE team presented a great story of an early Swedish team expedition at the start of 1901. It was the first team to reach a real southerly position and winter over in the Antarctic and ended up being 2 years here. They were looking to see if the Weddell Sea connected to the Ross Sea, of course it did not, there was a continent in between! Once again it is amazing to think how they survived… of course not all did, but these pioneers were just so brave and incredible. They will all be remembered for their era, between the end of 1842 with the mapping of the Ross Sea, by James Clark Ross and the end of the Great War as being within “the age of heroes” culminating in Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton.

After the presentation, which was held in a tent I had not been in previously, there was also another library that I had not seen and as such had a browse. I came across a book written by Rob Swan. Rob was the man I had met at the hotel in Punta, who had then travelled out to Union Glacier camp with us with his son Barney and a team. Rob, was the first man to ski to both poles, a famous British explorer of great renown. I remember being pretty Star struck at the time. I got to speak to Rob many times before we set off.

Anyway, the book I found, Antarctica 2041 my quest to save the Earths Last Wilderness, is brilliant. I cannot put it down. It echoes so many of the thoughts I have had and reasons for my second responsibility I have discussed. I feel justified and also grateful that Antarctica has this effect on others. Not only others but one of the real modern day heroes and pioneers.  I do hope I get to meet Rob again when I am back in London.

I also spent some time in the operations control centre today. They manage schedule calls from expeditions in the field, flight logistics as well as people coming in and out of camp. I thought it was hugely impressive. I have been invited to attend the Spear 17 schedule call. Spear 17 are a group of soldiers who are following the route of Henry Worsley, who tragically died last season.

Let’s hope the weather holds to allow our pick up back to Chile on the 14th.