Pole of Possibility: Captain’s Blog 3, 18th Dec 2022: The great white silence…

This is the last Captain’s blog for a while as we will very shortly enter the icy southern land and the great white silence.

It has been a surreal day. It began with one the grimmest challenges of paraplegia taking effect (too much chilli in Chile perhaps) which triggered my biggest concerns about having limited clothing and cleaning methods in the white wilderness. MY BIGGEST FEAR, luckily a day early from it being expedition critical.

Next came one of the most keepsake moments, collecting our boarding pass for Union Glacier, Antarctica. It seems like Icelandair have extended their operations and gone south. Film-maker Mike shed a few private tears (not so private now, oops) and I looked at it with some disbelief. After ten years of intention around this, it seems hard to believe that we will be there in the morning. We had a moment thinking of team-mates that that almost were, that might have been, that sadly are here no more. We take you in our hearts.

Somewhere amongst that I lost a front wheel, leaving myself ‘three-legged’ in downtown Punta Arenas. The nut had displaced itself with all the rattling over uneven paving. Luckily serendipity intervened: a thoughtful stranger found the wheel and then located us close by; then we re-traced our steps and found the bolt; then randomly a few blocks later we found an old screw-thread skewer that happened to fit the thread; and finally a hack-saw at the Antarctic Logistic offices to finish the job off. Back on four wheels again, and we spent the rest of the day filming and getting chilly overlooking the Magellan Straits, overseen by a statute of Shackleton.

On that note, it’s early to bed for our early start. Wishing you much love and light and laughter this festive season. And now for the great white silence…

Thank you to all our supporters for all you are enabling and in particular to our major sponsors, Sinequa and BBraun. We leave you with some facts you may find interesting about this precious, mystical continent…

  1. Antarctica contains more than 90% of the worlds ice and fresh water. If all the ice in Antarctica melts the sea will rise by 60m.
  2. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the world was in Antarctica, -92.3C on the East Antarctica Ice Sheet on Dome Fuji in August 2010.
  3. Only one fiction feature film has been made in Antarctica, called ‘South of Sanity’ by a Scottish film-maker called Kirk Watson
  4. In 1957 a bunch of Kiwis led by Edmund Hilary succeeded in reaching the South Pole on tractors, led by Sir Edmund Hillary. They went on to cross Antarctica. Scott first tried to use tractors in Antarctica in 1904. 
  5. The first person thought to have set foot in Antarctica is Captain John Davies, a sealer from England, in February 1821, shortly after the first sightings of the new continent in 1820.
  6. Antarctica has 235 animal species, the lowest number of any continent. For context, Europe has millions, e.g. 25,000 species of beetles alone.
  7. Mount Vinson should be within view of the Pole of Possibility, the highest mountain on the Antarctic continent at 4892m and the sixth highest of the seven summits.
  8. The Antarctic circle is at currently at 66.4 degrees. Above this latitude it never goes dark in summer and is never light in winter. We will be there in mid-summer 
  9. Antarctica is the windiest place on Earth was speeds greater than 350km / hr measured.
  10. The icy continent has the highest average elevation of all continents, most of it above 3000m above sea level.