SOUTH POLE EXPEDITION 2003
Matty McNair with 4 customers : Ray Middleton, Mike Barry,
Alex Blyth and Iain Morpeth
Wednesday, January 21, 2004; SOUTH POLE
SOUTH POLE REACHED ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 20!!!
Matty, Alex, Mike, Ray and Iain arrived at the South Pole yesterday evening at 21h00 hrs (9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time). After some initial pictures at the pole marker, camp was set up and the party began. Fiona (who arrived a week earlier) was still at the South Pole so she joined the party. Matty called me at 02h00 in the morning to inform me of the news. I was so excited that I could not sleep for the rest of the night. If all goes well, a Twin Otter will pick them up today and fly them back to Patriot Hills.
I will speak to Matty after she arrives at Patriot Hills and has the chance to relax a little. I will post a longer update in a day or so.
Sunday, January 18, 2004; Position: S 89 29 49 W 89 43 31
Day 49. Miles done so far: 570. Miles left to the South Pole: 30.
Only 30 nautical miles left to do. Matty and team plan to arrive at the South Pole on Tuesday night or Wednesday around noon!!! Matty described the condition on the polar plateau as hard and slow. The cold dry air contributes to the snow crystals being razor sharp; this in turn causes excessive friction on skis and pulks. The next update will be on Tuesday or Wednesday after I get the call that they have arrived. For those who are wondering what one finds at the South Pole: the American government operates a large scientific research base called the Scott-Amundsen South Pole station. During the Antarctic summer they have as many as 250 people living and working at the station. Flights to support the operations originate from Christchurch, New Zealand, fly to an American base on the edge of the Antarctic continent at McMurdo and then on to the South Pole. Once Matty and team arrive at the South Pole, a Twin Otter will pick them up and return them to Patriot Hills where they will await the larger Russian plane that will transport them back to southern Chile.
Monday 19th January
17th January position : 89°15'S / 86°48'S. Saturday, they walked 21 km et are now about to reach South Pole.
Wednesday 14th January
Tuesday 13th position: S 88° 24' / W 83° 28'
Day 43. 22 km done today.
Another overcast day. Matty feeling sick, Alex pulled her pulk. We're now camped at the same latitude that Shackleton turned back. "Better a live donkez tahan a dead lion..."
The Press Communiqué:
Wednesday, January 14, 2004; Position: S 88 36 45 W 82 13 43
Day 45. Miles done so far: 515. Miles left to the South Pole: 85.
The South Pole is less than 100 nautical miles away. After 45 days of travel, only a few remain. Matty said she thinks they will arrive at the Pole on January 20 or 21, weather dependent. Matty mentioned the following on our call this evening: Nearly one hundred years after Shackleton reached the furthest south at 88 23, no Irish has gone further until today when Mike Barry took Ireland closer to the South Pole.
Matty was sick on January 13; she thinks from new medication she was experimenting with to ward off altitude sickness. She was suffering from nauseas and light headedness. She is now back in form and sounded her usual chipper self on the telephone tonight She thanks Alex for pulling her pulk.
Three teams have now arrived at the South Pole: Fiona Thornewill in 42 days; Rosie Stancer in 43 days and 20 hours and a team of five Koreans in 44 days.
Mileage and update from the team for the last three days:
January 12: 12.2 miles in 7 hours. Now at elevation 8755 ft. We are on the polar plateau - it's cold here. The fur ruff on around our hoods a mask of ice by midday.
January 13: 12.2 miles in 7 hours. Another overcast day. Matty feeling sick, Alex pulled her pulk. We're now camped at the same latitude that Shackleton turned back, "Better a live donkey than a dead lion".
January 14: 12.3 miles in 7 hours. The soft snow and cold temperatures of the polar plateau are keeping the mileage around 12. Progress is steady and good.
Next call is on Sunday, January 18.
Monday 12th January
Sunday, January 11, 2004; Position: S 88 00 32 W 85 37 76
Day 42. Miles done so far: 480. Miles left to the South Pole: 120.
The team took a rest day today. After talking to Matty this evening, it sounds like it was a well deserved and needed rest day. This is what Matty has to say about the last few days: The last five days were the most exhausting of the entire expedition. A combination of poor visibility, cold weather, altitude and ski binding problems are the cause. The cold temperatures and new snow make travel slow and difficult. We are camped at 8,500 feet but since the atmosphere is thinner at this latitude, it feels more like 10,500 feet. We took today off for repairs and rest. Matty, and a few others, slept until 11h00. The plan is to complete the next degree in five days and the final degree in four days.
Mileage and update from the team for the last four days:
January 8: 11.2 miles in 7 hours. My friend Dorcas Miller says, "Cheer up. It could get worse." so I cheered up and sure enough it got worse.
January 9: 10.6 miles in 7 hours. Our worst day of travel in whiteout conditions. It's disappointing to work so hard for so few miles.
January 10: 11.5 miles in 8 hours. After 5 exhausting days we're at 88d S, and taking Sunday off.
January 11: Rest day.
Next call is on Wednesday, January 14.
Wednesday January 7th
Monday, January 5, 2004; Position : 87°02'S / 86°35'W
Sunday, January 4, 2004; Position: S 86 47 96 W 86 32 99
Day 35. Miles done so far: 408. Miles left to the South Pole: 192.
Matty reported that the last two days were some of the most beautiful days they have had so far. It was so nice this evening that the team enjoyed a dinner outside. An excerpt from Mattys journal: Today merged into yesterday, which blurred into the last week. The past seems such a short time away, only a few weeks ago that we departed from Hercules Inlet. The future seems to drag into an endless ski over undulating snow and ice. Yet eventually we will arrive at the bottom of the globe. And folks are looking forward to: Alex: gin & tonic; Ray: bacon & eggs; Iain: a pint of bitter; Mike: homemade brown bread made by his children; Matty: a fresh salad. They also want to share there three rules of travel: 1. Never pass the lead sled.
2. Always cover your shit.
3. No whining.
Mileage over the last four days:
January 1: 13.5 miles in 7 hours.
January 2: 12.6 miles in 7 hours.
January 3: 15.1 miles in 7 hours.
January 4: 15.4 miles in 7 hours.
Next call is on Wednesday, January 7.
Friday January 2nd 2004
Wednesday, December 31, 2003; Position: S 85 51 49 W 86 46 16
Day 31. Miles done so far: 351. Miles left to the South Pole: 249.
The team is back in action after an enjoyable and well deserved rest at Thiels Mountain. They are back to seven hours of travel per day, pulks laden with all the food supplies and gas needed to reach the South Pole. Matty estimates that they will arrive at the Pole between January 20 and 25th. Their plan is to complete a degree in five days. They also have a couple of days for storm and/or rest days built in.
Tonight they were going to party to celebrate the closing of another year. And they plan to party tomorrow as well to celebrate the crossing of another degree. (I think their pulks are a little too heavy and they want to consume any extra food or drink to lighten them up!!!) Matty reported that Iain and Ray had "a bad foot day" today. The weather continues to be beautiful with nice warm days without much wind.
Matty, Iain, Ray, Alex and Mike wish to pass on "A Happy New Year" to everyone who is following the expedition; "we think of loved ones often while skiing across this beautiful continent."
Mileage over the last three days:
December 31: 13.6 miles in 7 hours. / December 30: 13.2 miles in 7 hours. / December 29: 12.7 miles in 7 hours.
Next call is on Sunday, January 4.
Eric, Sarah and I send our best wishes for the New Year as well. We have another two days in the Dominican Republic before traveling north to Canada.
Sunday December 28 2003
Friday Dcember 26
Positions : 85°01'S / 87°13'W. Fantastic day. Windless, sunny with Thiels Mountains rising at 9000ft. Celebrated 85 degree. Halfway to SP.
Wednesday, December 24, 2003; Position: S 84 32 78, W 85 38 08
Day 21. Miles done so far: 272. Miles left to the South Pole: 328.
Holiday message from the South Pole team: "Merry Christmas to family & friends. We hung up our damp and snowy stockings in the tent this evening. We hope Santa can find us this far south. We wish you could be here to share this "all" white Christmas with us.
We will have a proper celebration upon reaching our Christmas treats in our food cache at the Thiels Mountains." from Iain, Mike, Ray, Alex & Matty. Only 28 miles to do before reaching the half way point. Mileage over the last three days: December 24: 16.1 miles in 7 hours. December 23: 12.8 miles in 7 hours. December 22: 15.9 miles in 7 hours.
Matty wants to thank everyone who has been sending her good wishes for the holiday season. "Your support is appreciated. I am looking forward to sharing stories and photos when I get back. Merry Christmas to everyone." Next call is on Sunday, December 28. Also, a Merry Christmas to all from the Dominican Republic. The kite surfing is excellent; life on the beach beats the snow of Iqaluit. Paul, Eric and Sarah.
Tuesday December 23 2003
- Monday, December 22 2003 / Position : 84°04'S / 84°38'W
Another beautiful day in paradise. 16.2 miles (nautical) in 7 hours. Celebrated crossing of 84th degree of latitude
- Sunday, December 21, 2003; Position: S 83 48 31, W 84 12 27
Day 21. Miles done so far: 228. Miles left to the South Pole: 372.
Happy Solstice to everyone from Matty, Iain, Mike, Alex and Ray. Following are the teams daily reports: December 21: 14.8 miles in 7 hours. Our record mileage day. All going well. Well cross 84 degree tomorrow. Plan to arrive at Thiels Mountain food depot on Dec 27 or 28. December 20: 11.5 miles in 6.5 hours. Long uphill day into strong headwinds that blew a stream of snow over hard packed sastrugi. - - - - - December 19: 13.2 miles in 7 hours. Poor visibiity all morning, plowing through snow and tripping over sastrugi. By evening the sun was out. December 18: 12.6 nm in 6 hours. Sunshine and snowing. Snow falling sparkled like diamonds. By evening the wind had died. Sat outside celebrating the crossing of 83 degrees of latitude. Next call is on Christmas eve, Wednesday, December 24
Friday December 19 2003
Posistion December 17th : 82°56'S / 83°10'W
Sunny with beautiful weather. A long day our feet are complaining Crossing another degree. Will stop early to celebrate.
Thirsday December 18 2003
Position December 15 : 82°29' S / 82°10'W /
Sunday December 14 2003 / Position: S 82 15 60, W 81 53 15
Day 14. Miles done so far: 135. Miles left to the South Pole: 465
Matty was in great spirits this evening when we she called. The last few days were the best they have had so far: the sun shining without any clouds in the sky and the temperature steady around -10 C. Matty described the last days with such words: another day in paradise; beautiful and sunny; what an incredible place to be when the weather is so good!!! There was a big party on Saturday night after they crossed 82 degrees. Vodka and chocolate treats were used to celebrate the occasion. Two degrees done, eight to go. Matty reports a temperature of +24 C in her tent. Every night Matty goes through her routine of washing herself by taking a sponge bath, brushing her hair, writing in her journal and reading before falling asleep on top of her sleeping bag. Life is pretty good out there. If you want to send Matty good wishes, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass on your message to her during our next sched call. Next call is on Wednesday, December 17.
Wednesday, December 10th 2003 / Position: S 81 24 66, W 81 04 59
Day 10. Miles done so far: 84. Miles left to the South Pole: 516
Matty and company have put in some great mileage since our last sched call. Sunday: 12.3; Monday: 13.5; Tuesday: 10.8; Wednesday: 13.6. It is fantastic to put in 13 miles on Day 8. Two years ago I first put in 13 miles on Day 14 and last year I put in 13 miles on Day 13. My congratulations to Matty and her team! I had a long talk with Matty tonight. Except for blisters, all seems to be going well. The last two days have been very warm. Alex spent part of yesterday skiing in his polypro top. Matty described how she brings her pulk inside her tent at night. This way she can unpack and repack without any blowing snow getting in. At night she sleeps beside the pulk. She says it keeps her company. It was quite odd to be talking to Matty in Antarctica while I was sitting under a palm tree on a beach in the Dominican Republic. Iridium technology! I am down here for some kite surfing. Eric and Sarah will join me on December 20. Next sched call with the South Pole team is for Sunday evening, December 14.
Saturday, December 6th 2003 / Position: S 80 34.90 W 81 04.33
Spoke to Matty this evening at 21h00 hrs. She was feeling good. Since leaving Patriot Hill, theyve traveled two six hour days and covered 8.5 nautical miles on each day. Conditions continue to be difficult with winds and poor visibility. Spirits are good and everyone is slowly getting into a good travel rhythm. The next sched call is for Wednesday night.
December 4th 2003
Matty arrived at Patriot Hill yesterday afternoon covering the distance between Hercules Inlet and Patriot Hill in three days. On December 2 the group skied 11.1 nautical miles in 6.5 hours - excellent for the start of an expedition. Matty reported difficult travel conditions - very windy with winds gusty to 58 knots on December 3. The group will take today to rest, re-pack and attend to blisters. They plan to start on December 5 for the South Pole. Next sched call is for the evening of December 6.
November 30th 2003
The call came early this morning: Paul, we landed at Patriot Hills at 03h00 this morning. The weather is superb; there is absolutely no wind and the temperature is around -10 C. Everyone is off to bed. I am so excited to be back in Antarctica that I cant sleep! Matty and her team will spend Sunday at Patriot Hills skiing and loading pulks. They plan to be dropped off by Twin Otter at Hercules Inlet early Monday morning. They will take 3 days to ski back to Patriot Hills. This will give everyone a chance to experiment with different ski and clothing systems. The next sched call is for Wednesday evening.
THE OTHER FOLLOW UP OF THE SEASON