Gay (the other female climber) arrived late yesterday afternoon. We spent the first 15min talking peeing logistics. You would not believe how complicated that is on a mountain for a female. You must keep everything in your sleeping bag (yes the pee bottle) but there is a problem with attempting to aim into a small bottle opening. lol... Turns out she uses the tupperware system too. ha ha ha Still can't put tupperware in sleeping bag (it leaks) hmmmm so we devised a two system method. OMG!! This will be interesting. Not to mention this is Antartica so everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) must be taken out. They have allocated pee stations up the mountain when we're roped in. If you miss one you must use pee bottle on the move. Seriously???
The bags have now been picked up for the flight. No turning back now.
Just finished our Antarctica briefing with ALE (who organise all flight and camp logistics). Their meteorologist gave us a run down on the weather. It looks like it's good to go. We will get 30 min notification to be ready for pick up. OMFG !!! It's at this point that I question my sanity. Holy hell - OK I have a goal and that is not to slip over on the ice when we get off the plane (a serious hazard) - then hopefully not freeze before I get to base camp. If I'm still alive after that and moving - well that's a bonus.
They tell me the flight safety instructions are given by a Russian guy who always says 'your life jacket is under your seat...' and then he starts laughing saying 'but the water is -2*C' ha ha ha OMG - everyone is a comedian.
We should fly out in the morning.
Marg and Ted signing off from Punta Arenas
Antarctica here we come !!!
Tues 6th Jan
Finally, great sleep. Woke feeling energised (well, as energised as I get anyhow - I'm not a morning person). First things first - yep all you eat breakfast. I was first to arrive and one of the last the leave. Nothing new. lol..
Right - today I was ready to go hiking. But... after looking out the window and seeing rain and howling wind - well, let's not get stupid!
Good excuse to finally use the gym (after all that is why I picked this hotel). Mind you it has a great big spa and of course I didn't pack swimmers. Why would anyone pack swimmers for a trip to Antarctica??!
Didn't use gym - don't know why I always kid myself. lol.. Instead I went out in the howling wind for a walk. I was sure it was going to snow (not kidding) but I figured getting acclimatised to the cold was more important than working out in a warm gym. As I headed back to the hotel the wind was blowing me backwards but I pretended I was on the summit and pushed on into it. Holy crap you would think we were close to Antarctica. Well that's my training for the day.
Met Mark Sedon (the guide) today. I think he should be able to carry me (although he tells me he's not very fit, he can just go a long time). ha ha ha if he's not fit - what the hell am I? OMG... Mind you he was involved in a helicopter crash in August and lucky to be alive - bloody hell and he's climbing Vinson??? What am I complaining about.?! He tells me getting up the mountain is all about eating your way up there. hmmmm I explained I don't have an appetite when I'm climbing. 'Don't worry I'll teach you how to eat' he says. If only he saw me eat any other time. ha ha ha 'How strict a vegetarian are you?' he asks I'm not a vegetarian - I just don't like meat. What's wrong with pasta??? 'I haven't been able to find instant oats' he says. Thank God! 'Don't get too many I'll be OK' I say. 'If it's one thing - I will teach how to eat' he replies. Oh God I have visions of porridge and throwing up. He's killing me and we haven't even started.
He goes on to say this is his favourite summit. finally something positive. 'Wait till you see the plane slide on the ice like it's ice skating' he says. What??!!! 'OK you're not helping' he just laughs. I now feel worse than I did this morning. ahhhhh I think I need a drink - something stronger than green tea.
Wed 7th Jan
What a bloody day! I'm having trouble sleeping so woke at 1am after 3hrs sleep. And that was it. Nope - wide awake until of course 4.30am when I dozed off again. Mark said he would meet me at 10am to do a gear check. No probs - I'll have breakfast before that and have all my gear laid out on the bed. Good plan I thought until knock knock knock. What the ... ahhhh sh#t !!!!! 10am ??? really ??? I was fast asleep. sh#t !!
That was the beginning of a bad day. We were obviously not going to agree on anything. Adrian (who is Gay's personal guide) also came along. Imaging when I tell Mark that Ted is coming and he says that he can stay at base camp. What??!!! That was it. 'No Ted no climb' ! Adrian laughed and said 'obviously that's not negotiable then' You got it.. I definitely needed coffee. Adrian agreed and coffee was ordered. Imaging being woken up in a fright, having no coffee and talking gear and logistics. ahhhhhh I needed to go back to bed before I committed murder. Thank God for room service. Coffee delivered (murder avoided).
Mark said I was much chirpier after a coffee how about I buy you another?. hmmmmm not funny.
Phew finally at the airport - yeeha. 'There's the lifts, park anywhere' I say. Now you have to remember this is 6.30am on a Sat (there are only about 20 other cars in a million spot car park). She picks the disabled spot 'They should label them better' she says. hmmm (massive blue paint marker). 'OK this one then' she says (another disabled spot). I'm laughing hysterically. Seriously?? Finally, parked.
Yeah - we have lift off. Of course I ate my way through each flight (I'm serious). Eat, movies, nap, eat, movies, nap, eat eat eat. Change flights, eat, change flights eat.
Arrived at the hotel at 8pm. I was planning to go straight to sleep but the sun doesn't set until 10.30pm and of course I was offered a free welcome drink. How could I refuse. So, quick shower and back down for my own private Xmas. (Ted went to sleep - after all it was only one free drink). They said it would be freezing and yet it was about 15*C - nice. Ok so after just one drink (still don't know what it was - nice though) I was ready for food and yes a glass of wine. So I had two (I did like how the waiter poured it) - that's my excuse. Anyhow, still not tired so time for room service (yes I was eating my way through the night - heck I ate my way through the flights ha ha ha) - BUT slept like a baby.
Mon 5th Jan - PENGUIN SEARCH
Up at 6am in search of PENGUINS !!! Off we went to Magdalena Island. I was told to rug up - so beanie and gloves in hand off we went. Where's my coffee??? No breakfast anywhere until after 7am (no early rises here). Hmmm need coffee - need something. Then I remembered I had a chocolate stash in suitcase for the climb. This was an emergency - needed food! Finally - chocolate and we're off.
Picked up at the hotel for a 30min drive to our boat. 37 of us in total. Out of the bus - and bloody hell it's cold. Everyone scrambles for jackets. In the little boat we squeeze, life jackets on (hmmm they don't have one for Ted) - oh well he can fit in mine. 45min later we arrive and OMG bloody hell it's FREEEEEZING!!! Scramble for beanie, gloves and heck where's my winter buff. ahhhh how will I survive Antarctica???!!
OK - more important things at hand - PENGUINS!!! thousands and thousands of penguins. Mama penguins, Papa penguins and baby penguins. Amazing to see them in their natural habitat. They have park rangers watching every move. hmmmm it doesn't look like we can take one home. Damn.
We're there for an hour with cameras going crazy and then back to the boat for a hot cup of tea (thank God!). I hope they have someone serving tea on the mountain. Finally thawed out and we headed off to Marta Island to see the Sea Lions. They were just lazy sun bakers. (I think I could live with them except they STINK to high heaven) ahhhh.
Finally back to the hotel at 12md where I ATE and crashed for 5hrs straight. So much for some last minute training to Vinson. OMG I'm going to die.
Morning and all you can eat breakfast buffet. I set alarm for it (couldn't take a chance on missing it). Everyone was rugged up like it was going to snow. hmmmm I was wearing a t-shirt. What's the go with that?? Anyhow, time for a stroll through the town. Threw on my Best & Less hoody and off I went. It was 7*C and wind chill was 3*C but it actually felt pleasant and fresh. Maybe I might survive Antarctica after all. Yeah yeah early days yet. I swear though everyone else looks like eskimos. It was 10.30am and the whole town was still asleep. Verrrry quiet.
OK so after a little nap I thought I should attempt another tour of the town. All still shut! what?? Then it occurred to me it was Sunday. Nothing opens here on a Sunday. Oh well - off I headed to the sea side. Very nice. Everyone else still rugged up for a snow storm. lol.. OK - might as well walk up to the lookout. 2hrs later - seriously??!! and no water. OK - so it took 2hrs because my trusty map wasn't so trusty. No - don't blame me. I'm blaming the map!! I need sleep.
The highest mountain in Antarctica
Saturday 3rd Jan
We've arrived !!! Punta Arenas - CHILE
28hrs and 4 flights later - woohoo we're here!!!
Actually, lucky we made it at all considering Michelle was the chauffeur. Picked up at 6am for our 1.5hrs trip to Brisbane. "Watch out for this car" I say 45min into the trip. No reply - silence. 5 sec later she nearly hits the car. Swerves back and I just stare at her. 'I was wondering why you told me to watch out for the car in front.' Oh yeah because that's what I would do - make sure you can see the car in front. (Mind you it's Sat morning and there are only 3 other cars on the road). OK I'm going to die before I make it out of the country.
Dates: 3rd - 24th January 2015
CLIMBING WITH: Adventure Consultants
Margaret Suanez (Aus)
Gay Henriksen (USA)
Mark Sedon (NZ)
Adrian Ballinger (USA)
HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR VINSON CLIMB
This video was taken by Mark Sedon and posted on Youtube 4th March 2015.
Thurs 8th Jan
Well - this is it. The last couple of days have been spent on logistics and last minute preparations. My head is spinning (literally). We went out last night for a team dinner and briefing. After the last 24hrs I needed a drink so I decided why not. OMG there's a reason you really shouldn't drink before a climb. Panadol is not working ! ahhhh
Quite a few people have asked why I wasn't flying to Antarctica from Australia. We're close but Chile is the closest point.
Here are some maps just so you get an idea of how it all sits and the size comparison of Antarctica in relation to Australia and NZ.
Mt Vinson - the climb
This youtube video was posted by britclip November 2014
This is our Ilyushin landing on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier
Friday 23 January 2015
As I said to Mark... I'm sure at the start of this trip he was thinking 'I don't get paid enough for this crap' and I was certainly thinking 'Prick. I want to go home'.
BUT... fast forward two weeks and I can honestly say it has been another amazing adventure. I'm glad we got to know each other and I'm glad we stood on the summit together - 7pm Thursday 15th January 2015 - even though I'm sure I'm the first person in history to have actually crawled onto the summit on my hands and knees. What was I doing on my hands and knees??? Well - let's start at the beginning because I'm sure this would not be a story worth telling if everything just sailed through smoothly. No no - there must be misadventure. Don't worry I'm obviously only ever on these trips to keep you all amused.
It started off with absolute logistic precision. Picked up at the hotel at 6.30am, driven straight to the airport, through security, out the other end, back on the bus and driven straight to the Russian Ilyushin flight. Now that is an amazing piece of machinery (one of the smoothest flights I have ever experienced). You actually get to watch the whole flight from start to finish on a big screen inside the cabin, just like if you were flying the plane yourself. very impressive. 5hrs later we arrived at Union Glacier which again is the logistic hub of the whole Antarctica operation. The first thing that hits you is how absolutely white and pristine the environment is. Nothing and I mean nothing is left in Antarctica. You can not leave a trace of you being there (except for a couple of marked pee holes on the mountain).
Then the food frenzy begins. We are given a meal (just in case we were hungry after lunch on the plane or because we might die out in the cold) - either way food glorious food. Union Glacier certainly do it in style. Within 2 hrs we're in our Twin Otter plane for our 45 min flight to Base Camp at 2,100m. So far so good - perfection.
The fun now begins...
We set up camp and spend the next day walking and testing out our pace ready to tow the sleds the following day. Mark and I are always tied in to each other (or should I say me to him) with a 10m rope just in case of crevasses (which thank God we didn't encounter any) well none that we fell in to. Have to laugh - at one point after we'd been walking Mark pulls on the rope during a break (we always stay 10m apart) but he pulls and I say 'What are you doing'? 'Come here' he says 'You've been avoiding me all day' (ha ha could be we're separated by 10m). 'Sit. I'm going to show you how to eat' he says. Again with the food.!!! I'm sure these guides have food issues. lol... 'You must eat something' he says. I am I am. My pockets are full of snacks he has made me carry and my pockets would continue to be full of snacks all the way to the summit that I could not eat. But - God bless him - he pulls out a packet of GU strawberry Energy Chews (just like gummy bears) - hmmmmm YUM!!!! Finally something I can eat. Oh YES !!!! Of course I have none in my snack stash. The packet looked terrible so I didn't grab any. My happiness and GU fix is now dependent on Mark. He found my website he says (what??!) and he wants to make sure I write something nice about him. ha ha ha I just laugh. OK first great thing. He has discovered my weakness for GU. So to keep me moving along the day (remember we are 10m apart) he says 'I'll leave one here for you' and he drops it on the snow along the track. This is actually fun. A treasure hunt of GU which keeps me amused. (yes yes - I'm easily amused). Of course he says its the only time he really sees me smile. He will just drop GU's all the way to the summit. lol..
The next few days progress nicely. The weather is amazing. The sky blue. The sun shines basically 24hrs a day. They say the weather is -28* but seriously as we pull the sleds to Low Camp the next day to 2,800m it feels like we are crossing the desert!!! Seriously, HOT! I picture that the white snow is actually white sand. Everyone is sweltering in the heat even though it still says -30*. So much for freezing to death - heat stroke is more like it. 6hrs later we arrive at camp. Of course it felt like I had a child strapped to my back and another tugging at me from behind but overall the sleds are quite good.
The following day we move a load up the fixed ropes. 45* incline. Holy hell it looks steep. Of course along the way I say 'OK let's just go slow' and he replies 'any slower and I would be asleep' ha ha ha he keeps himself amused. He does however come up with a method to rig my camera to my backpack - hmmm I'm impressed. 'About time you had one good idea' I say. ha ha ha 'slap' he says. Of course I say I will put that on my blog. This becomes our joke - hmmmm what will make it into the story. He says 'I can imaging by the time you start typing this it's just going to get bigger and better'. Of course it is. Although trust me - I really don't have to try and exaggerate - we really do come up with enough idiot moves to keep you amused.
Finally, we move up to High Camp (3,750m) - 7hrs up the fixed ropes with a full pack (although not as bad as I imagined). The ascender and ice axe help you keep a nice rhythm. Then one more hour up the mountain to arrive at camp. yeeeeeeha. I hug him and say 'thank you thank you thank you' OBVIOUSLY the altitude has got to me. I must think we're on the summit. 'We're having a rest day tomorrow' he says. YES YES YES - I nearly kiss him. I think I'm delirious. Could be altitude sickness kicking in
THEN comes SUMMIT DAY...
Eat, drink, eat, drink - this would become his mantra and my nightmare. Porridge for breakfast. I seriously try - but unless he wants to wear it, I can only manage one mouthful. I think he can tell I'm going to be sick. "You need to relax and then you can eat' Relax - right - got it. hmmmmm yep not working!!!!
He gives up. "let's go'. phew. Once we start walking - I relax and the world seems beautiful. I feel great. He keeps feeding me GU (he saved a packet just for summit day) - maybe he is nice after all. lol.. GU and water and I'm on fire. Well - as on fire as I get huffing and puffing up a mountain. Actually it's pretty flat - nice gentle slope for about 4hrs and then he has a BRAIN EXPLOSION !!!!
You must remember that he is an adventure junkie. He was involved in a helicopter crash (5mths to the date of the summit) - amazing he's alive and even more amazing he is back on the mountain. He probably didn't figure he would be stuck with me for his first return climb. ha ha ha
So - there we are... 4hrs in - he is supper happy. (maybe it's him who has altitude sickness) He looks up the mountain and says 'I've always wanted to do the traverse. Do you want to try it'? 'I'll try anything once' I reply. Doesn't look that bad. WHAT WAS I THINKING????!!!! Like a kid in a candy store - 'OK let's do it' he says super happy.
It begins... up we climb. French step technique - one foot over another - up and up we go. I'm concentrating so hard on placing my feet that I'm not thinking of anything else except not falling off the mountain. WHAT WAS I THINKING???!!!! Half way up (about2hrs later) and I say 'hmmm I have a really bad feeling that this is one of your crazy adventures we're on' (mind you they usually end badly). He just laughs. 'You're doing really well. I'm really impressed' 'You have great balance' he says. (I want you to note that) Finally, he is impressed - he definitely must be suffering altitude sickness. I'm worried. I've never seen him so happy.
Look around he says. WHAT??!!! 'I'm not looking around and I'm definitely not looking down' holy sh#t!!! Jesus!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING??!! 'You agreed to this' he says 'You were 100% in' he says. "you caught me at a weak moment' I say. 'No - I waited until you were fed on GU and water to ask'. Very bloody funny. We are seriously going to die. "no we're not' he says 'You're tied in to me and I have no plans on falling off this mountain' Great - I'm glad he thinks he can take my weight if this goes south. I knew I shouldn't have eaten. BUT up and up we continue. I follow in his foot steps and I see nothing but his footsteps. No way am I looking down !!!
We finally make it to the start of the rocks (about 4hrs later - 8hrs all up). Great - break, sit and of course EAT!!!! Problem is that it was time to rug up - put on our expedition (Michilen fat Man) jacket, our face masks (I look like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs) OMG!!! and of course our goggles and make sure nothing fogs up. Check - all good. Hold on - you haven't eaten!!! How can I possibly eat - I have a damn face mask on. He tries to shove a GU under the mask - that of course is not going to work - so then he shoves it through the mouth opening (remember it's only half an opening) and for the first time I see him just laugh and laugh. He's having the time of his life - so he now squeezes some GU which resembles toothpaste (which he's sucking on) in through the gap - ahhhhhhhhhhhhh it tastes absolutely disgusting !!!! The look on my face says it all - which send him into fits of laughter. Well - as long as I'm keeping him amused. But wait - he doesn't stop there. He's having so much fun that he breaks a piece of muesli off and tries to shove that through the hole. It won't fit. OK enough! stop playing games - I will end up choking!!! 'What about water' he says. This has seriously become a game. Water works though. NOTE to self - next time eat and drink prior to face mask.
We continue up the mountain across the rocks but my legs now feel like lead. Each step is progressively slower. Crap this is now taking forever. I knew we shouldn't have sat down and played. But step after step up we go. I keep looking up thinking - sh#t we're not getting closer. 'Where's the summit'? I ask. 'Just at the end of the rocks' he says. I look and I see what appears to be a ridge that goes on for another 300m. No way am I going to make this. Damn!! I knew we should have taken the normal route I think. But then all of a sudden at the end of the rocks - (OK not that sudden but anyhow..) we come to an ice wall about 2m high - not kidding. He uses his ice axe and front points up and over. I just stare at him. He is now standing on the SUMMIT. 'Come on' he shouts 'Just front point' 'Come on this is it". Mind you my ice axe is on my pack and I'm using my walking poles. How exactly would he like me to front point up a wall with just boots?? 'JUST FRONT POINT' he shouts again. Of course I throw the poles up (they are useless in this situation) and attempt to front point. Definitely not going to work. I try using my hands in the holes like rock climbing. NOPE not going to work. I just start laughing. Is he kidding me. He pulls on the rope - whilst continuing to shout 'front point' I'll give him front point !!! And finally - I clamper onto the summit on my hands and knees. 'Not a very dignified entry' he says. Very funny. I can honestly say that I would be the only person in history to have arrived on hands and knees. BUT THERE I WAS !!!!!!
Hugs all round. Emotions high. WOW WOW WOW. 7pm (9.5hrs up) the SUMMIT !!!
white white white for miles around - as far as the eye can see. On top of Antarctica !!!!!
A few photos later (yes - I look like the Michilen Man) - Ted makes his appearance as does the flag of course. 'Take it all in' he says.
He's read my website - he knows it's the journey that counts - the summit a bonus but the journey is really what it's all about. The memory will last forever.
'Right - this is only half way - we have to get down' he says and off we go down the normal route. Around a rocky ledge with a drop to never never land. I'm tied in of course. Crampons and rock don't mix as far as i'm concerned. He has spent the last hour saying - 'just step on the rocks. pretend it's snow. trust the crampons' hmmm yes I know that but now Im about to step onto a rock as wide as my boot that is the only thing between me and a million foot drop. 'step on the rock' he shouts. yeah yeah hello brain working on it. finally past rock ledge - phew. still alive - great. time to head down along the snow trodden path. I would go on to name this the white highway - long and continues path - 3.5hrs back to High Camp. walking walking walking.
I was absolutely SUPER HAPPY that we had taken the traverse. The only people to do so. Quite an adventure. The best part of the whole climb.
We arrived back at High Camp - where I thought surely we're not trekking all the way down to Base Camp tomorrow. They're insane. Body was starting to cramp. I must have been using every stomach muscle that I possessed and then some I didn't know I possessed. ahhhhhhh
Mark made some mash potato and gravy (yummmmmm - OK now food was good - any food would have been good) and 8 hrs later I woke feeling GREAT !!!
Although I felt great - obviously the brain had frozen and had not thawed out as you will now see.
We began our descent - a simple 40min walk to the start of the fixed ropes. A full pack that definitely weighed more than on the way up (I was sure of it). I should have checked that Mark didn't add any rocks to it. hmmm OK off I trotted (well - walked anyhow) - started to relax and the next thing I knew I was flying through the air and landed smack on my stomach with my pack on top of me. I scrambled to reach out for my hiking pole so it didn't slide down the mountain and that was as far as I could move. I look back at Mark (who is again tied in 10m behind me) and I start laughing hysterically. I can't move!! He just stares and casually says 'hold on a minute I need a photo of this' Very funny. Oh yeah no - don't help just take a photo. Dying here. The pack is chocking me (did I mention it was heavy). 'Lie on your back' he says. I do this - now I'm just a turtle. Can't move. 'Take a breath, relax and now just get on your knees and get up' he says. 'I'm seriously chocking here' I say. 'Stop mucking around and get up' 'No seriously, I'm chocking here' Adrian would say later laughing - 'he was waiting for you to turn blue before he moved'. Finally he works out that dragging my dead body off the mountain would be much harder than helping me get up. He walks up and just lifts the pack up - ahhh that's better and I'm on my feet. He just laughs. 'Don't walk with your feet so close together' he says (yes I had tripped over my crampons - hmmmm way too relaxed). I now walk resembling a cowboy with bow legs. I'm not taking a chance on seriously tripping right over the edge. OMG this was just the start of the downhill climb.
OK - fixed ropes. Time to arm rappel down the ropes. holy sh#t - mother of God!!! it's damn steep. 'Always looks steeper from above' he says. No kidding. There must be another way. 'Stop mucking around just go' hmmmm 'really???' Do I look like I'm kidding. Bloody hell. Down I go. Mind you I'm tied in to him but I'm pretty sure I could drag him down a mountain if I don't concentrate even though he tells me he has no intention of falling down any mountain. Down and down we go. Of course at the end of every section you have to unclip your carabiner and clip in to the next section of rope. Wrap your arm again and pull down on the rope to lock in, using the friction of the rope to hold you in place. Not too hard really if your brain works. Of course I get to a section where I switch the carabiner and the pull on the rope but it's lose. 'It's not working it's lose' I say. "Are you kidding. Come on' He says 'Be serious' What on earth is he talking about. My life is at stake here - do I look like I'm laughing. As it turns out I was actually pulling up on the rope and not down to lock in the wrap. hmmmmm come on brain start working or I will end up killing myself. I'm sure Mark will just cut the rope. ha ha ha
And then.... just as we're nearing the bottom, I take my glove off, unclip the carabiner and for some insane reason that I still have not worked out as the world goes into slow motion - Mark says he tried to reach out and scream 'noooooooooooooo' (which of course it happened so fast that he didn't utter a word he just stared) as I put a frozen carabiner in my mouth without thinking. Just a split second - only a milli second before my brain went 'Oh F#ck !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I pulled it instantly off my lip but I looked like I had been in 10 rounds with Muhummad Ali. Jesus !!!!!!!!! Definitely the sort of thing you only do once in your life. Mark says 'most people don't even need to do it once' hmmm yeah yeah laugh away. Mind you - of course eating and smiling after that was not so pleasant as the blisters formed.
I seriously would need to get off this mountain before I did any more damage.
We arrived at Low Camp - where Adrian cooked up some scrambled eggs - yum yum yum. Other teams were jealous. hee hee hee
We packed up, stashed gear for next year to be buried in the snow, loaded our sleds and off we went to Base Camp. At one stage we swap the sled configuration around. I now pull my sled and Marks sled as he tries to control it from the back. I'm heading down a section where we pick up speed when all of a sudden I see my sled start to slide past me, I try to look back but can't see and keep going. Mark finally shouts 'stop' and starts laughing. He said it was going so fast that he nearly got taken off his feet and came sailing past being dragged along the ground behind both sleds. I couldn't stop laughing. and laughing and laughing. Adrian would say - oh yeah very funny until you both got taken down the mountain backwards into a crevasse (as his ice axe was in his pack). Still I laughed - it seriously would have looked like something out of a cartoon.
Phew - 4hrs later pulling sleds we made it to Base Camp. yeeeeeeeha. More food (toasted bacon and cheese sandwiches with heaps of butter) - absolutely to die for. The best. The one thing I must give Mark is that he was an excellent cook. Really good. After some sleep - it was time to pack and get ready for our flight back to Union Glacier. Time to go. At 1.30pm our Twin Otter took off over the mountains and you cannot even begin to describe the emotion of what you feel when you look out over the Antarctic. It's magic - the beauty is breath taking and you know that you have been in the presence of something special. A once in a life time event.
Mark was excited about arriving at Union Glacier. He wouldn't have to cook anymore - he could finally relax. The weather is warmer there he says. hmmmm we arrive in a mind blowing snow storm. The wind is blowing at one point at 40km/hr. We start erecting our tents and Mark is helping with mine - except he says 'just hold it and i'll peg it' OK wind blowing as we try and keep tent from blowing away. hmmmm that's not right - hmmmm turn it around. hmmmm OK - hmmmm that's not right - hmmmm turn that around - hmmmm that's not right. I let go off the tent and laugh hysterically. Finally he's human. He might be a great climber but he's crap at putting up a tent. I can't stop laughing and the tent is going to blow away. He says everyone is probably watching this. Again I just laugh. Finally one tent erected. OMG !!!
Food is being served in the main tent. It's nice and warm and everyone hangs out in there. yummmmm food. People rush for it.
However, after 3 days of sitting, eating, reading, napping, eating, reading eating sitting - people are starting to go stir crazy. The toilet block is about 30m away and I risk my life every time I try to make it across the ice without being blown away across the Antarctic. I'm not kidding. I try and stand but I'm going side ways. I resemble a penguin sliding across the ice and people just laugh. I know I will be the first person to be evacuated from Union Glacier with a concussion attempting to pee. I stop drinking tea. Seriously - dangerous stuff. I guy steps out of the meal tent and wham blown straight over. I refuse to go back out there. We stay up until about 2am talking eating, drinking, eating and then we attempt to make it to the tent. Steve escorts me to my tent so I don't kill myself. It's hilarious.
By our 5th day - everyone has had enough. I never want to see food again. It's time to get out. The call comes at 8.30am as we sit down for breakfast on the 21st. Be ready in an hour - we're going. YES YES YES but seriously an hour. OK bloody hell - go go go everyone is full steam ahead. No one wants to be left behind. Love Antarctica but sitting around eating for 5 days takes it's toll. I must admit they conducted a yoga class on the 4th day and that was really cool. I wish they had done that every day.
Anyhow - we spend a good hour digging the tents out of the ice. No matter how many times Mark and Adrian dug them out and checked on them - they were buried in ice when we had to go. But dig them out we did. It's all a go.
Again I made it across the runway (blue ice) without falling flat on my arse. Just !!!
So as the Ilyusion took off - it was good bye to Antarctica, good bye to another adventure and to one of the most amazing natural pristine places on earth.
Once again it's the journey that makes the adventure memorable and I certainly won't forget this one. I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people.
I have spent the last 2 days in Punta Arenas recovering and eating with the other teams. We've had many laughs and people are planning their next crazy adventures. Will from the UK is planning to walk across Australia through the desert (without dying). If he manages it - then you heard it here first.
So that's it. I leave at 4.30am - so must pack. I'm currently listening to Opera from outside my window. Very Chilean. Nice.
OK OK must make a move.
Marg and Ted signing off from Chile...
Till the next time. Thanks for your support and of course smart arse comments. Wouldn't be the same without them. xxx
See you on the other side.