Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Life back in the Uk has been slightly different to what I was expecting. Unfortunatelty my polar thigh got infected and meant that trips to medical establishments have been necessary and a lifetime of videos have had to be watched. Usually by this stage, I would have attended the royal festival hall to immerse myself back into the sounds and pulses of the classical music - something that I now associate with home- but until now that hasn't been possible. Nonetheless, on Thursday, yes tomorrow, I return once more to the RFH for an evening of Bruckner's Symphony No 5 with Philharmonia Orchestra ... and I can't wait.

The journey is over and real life kicks back in one more time ..... but before I put the final fullstop on the chapter, I would like to thank everyone who has supported this journey on many different levels each playing a very important part that got me to the Pole. Looking back now after listing key events of the jouney, with all of the challenges that were presented before, during and after the journey - its a wonder that I made it to the pole at all. However equally it shows how instrumental your support and kind words were. Thank you. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Made it!

I made it to the South Pole - the 6th solo woman in world history to do so. So this journey had its challenges and disappointments but more it gave me freedom like no other experience, challenge and a solo journey that extended, confirmed and enhanced who I am.


After 46 days you would think that I would be ready to come back inside, but I wasn't, so the last few days were spent dragging my skies, having half days and pigeon skiing until my food ran out. 


51 days of solitude has been an amazing experience and although there were times that I craved human contact, realising that I was far more social than I thought and wished I didnt have to ski....  but this gave me the opportunity to contemplate what I want my next chapter or phase in life to be like.


Although the biggest disappointment and knock during the journey was finding my fuel canister that held the majority of my fuel wasn't robust enough for the temperatures and sastrigi and thus resulted in the canister splitting and spilling its contents into my sled contaminating serveral days food -at this point the journey automatically became supported and unassisted. I know that above all else, this was the hardest moment of the journey and the point that I had my biggest mental battle in order to carry on. The disappointment was huge -it was at least 35yrs worth of dreaming with a 2 year dedicated focus and preparation, filled with hope and expectation perhaps 'disappointment' is not the correct term. Yes, it was big and yes I felt it to my core. Nonetheless, the process that I took myself on, whilst picking myself up was equally/ probably one of my finest moments of the journey too. Of course, it wasnt the only knock/challenge/bad luck/disappointment of the journey whether before or after, but hey, a smooth ride, plenty of luck wouldnt have given me half the challenge that I had to overcome on this journey and without there certainly wouldn't be a book or after dinner stories to come out of it either. 

In short, this journey had enough to break a person /me.... 

But it didnt. 
So, as I take a little time to rest and recover ..... I cant help look for my next challenge....... 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The return...

Ok, so things have changed somewhat over the last couple of days. I know that there will be some who will be disappointed in the following but shouldn't be because I am not (albeit a little frustrated at having the bad luck of delays at the beginning - but that is out of my hands).

I have had to reconsider all of the information that I have. The return journey of 700 miles would need to be completed in 21 (20) days. That is the cut off date of the company that has the base camp and provides radio support etc. Therefore I would need to be skiing and pulling a pulk, yes down hill, approx 30miles a day, everyday even in bad weather or white outs. This journey so far: a 1/4 of the journey where I have re-enacted 'blind bambi on skies' have been in white out and/or very poor viz.... and we all know, with my track record of luck, what would happen when I returned! (Things really dont happen in three's with me).

My time over the last couple of weeks or so has been hampered by a lung infection, that has now been resolved by a course of antibiotics and running out of food (yes, story in a book to follow). Although I kept the daily milage steady - it impacts in other ways.

There is also a small point that each day of the return would cost me an additional $2000 a day - a very large sum for something that I would not be able to finish nor use for another adventure.

I am well (although needed some rest), confident that If i had just one more week that I could had done the return as I still have excess body weight to give the return (darn it cause that also means that thats me back in the gym again!!) but really the cost of keeping camp open for an additional week (megga $$$) is just not possible. So, i am going to cut my losses, be pleased with being the 6th woman in world history to ski solo to the South Pole(the most extreme place in the world) and use the money to fund another project/adventure.

I have loved this solo challenge and it has given the confidence to look at some more extreme places in the world to try... so the journey is not over... but what i know, the world first is not happening in Antarctica.

Finally, I could have arrived at pole a day or so ago but want to savour this solo experience so skiing minimal amounts until my food runs out. I should arrive at Pole on the 5th. .... delighted and filled with stories and challenges that this journey has provided. I hope you will celebrate with me. That is of course unless something majorly goes wrong in the next 17miles!!!

For those reading this who maybe disheartened, dont be. I am not a professional, i dont work in the industry, just a simple plain Jane who likes to give things a go. To sum that up - I have enjoyed ultra running in my spare time (aka running 35, 40 or even 50 miles in a day) - but I am hopeless at it (but i like it) ... anyway the day that I was flown to the start line .... i was sat opposite the guy who won the same three ultra races of which I came last. Although he was part of a selected team, who were super fast ..... we both made it to the South Pole from the Hercules INLET ...... now that is funny and demonstrates that if I can do it .... so can you. Xx

P.s what I also think is funny (and for those who want to see a first), i may hold the 'oldest solo female' record to ski to the South Pole - it maybe just for a few moments ..... but there it is. The oldest, slowest ultra runner and exheadteacher (the list can go on) to ski solo to the South Pole .... now thats even funnier!! .... but I will make it and would do it again tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

still here...

last degree before I hesd back..

Wooohoooo- I am now in the last degree... crossed over this am. Means that there is only 60nm to the Pole.
I should have crossed over into the last degree last night but, yep, you've guessed it - another pm of white out and lots of snow (that was the point that I decided I would pick it up again tomorrow/ today).

60nm will take 4 days even with the very warring cough that continues to blight speed - as the temperature decreases and altitude increases ... of course my little cough will make more noise - its very annoying but not unsurmountable and when I start on the downhill, breathing will be way easier to regulate unlike this continuous uphill!! Even now!

I have to say, i have clearly blocked out these final miles from last years memory (not good). I remember the surface being hard, flat and great to ski on. So why am I ankle/calf deep in snow??

Although this is sent today, this was written a couple of days ago. I am now in mid degree 89 - just 36nm from pole. I had to take the pm/evening off as in short my body has just done the 'enough' and time out /sleep please as I continue to be bouncing up and down from 1756 to 1800m and back again. All this hidden elevation coupled with the additional soft snow that my pulk seems to resist - it really is like pulling a deadweight from the hips!! (Not that i have ever pulled a deadweight before).

The return is very much on my mind ....