Antarctica R&D 2012/13

A solo expedition from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole.

On 18th December 2012 Richard set off to ski solo, unassisted and unsupported from Hercules Inlet on the Geographical coastline of Antarctica to the South Pole as a research and development expedition for his Antarctica Speed Record attempt the following year.

This was Richard’s third R&D expedition of 2012 after expeditions to Aconcagua and Denali. Richard suffered horrific weather conditions, hitting some of the worst sastrugi conditions Antarctica had ever seen and after skiing for 974.68km/605 miles, Richard was forced to end his expedition on Day 39, having run out of time.  He did not make it to the south pole and returned with a frostbite injury to his nose and having lost 15kg (about 2½ stone) in weight.

However, this brutal expedition was the perfect preparation for Richard’s solo speed record expedition the following year.  

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Antarctica Blog - Back in Punta - 27th January 2013 - Sunday 27th Jan 2013

On Friday I was picked up by twin otter plane on the ice.  There was a bit of liaising with the pilots to do and some discussion as to whether they could land at my location but on Friday conditions were good and they were able to land and pick me up. …

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Latest Blog
  • Antarctica Blog - 7th December 2012 - Friday 7th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys, it’s game time!  My flight leaves tonight from Heathrow Airport and I am due to arrive in Punta Arenas in Chile tomorrow. This is my new micro site where you’ll be able to read my Antarctica blog and latest news.  My new official website will be launched in 2013, I have been working on developing it with Limegreentangerine for the last month and I am really excited about the new look website which we hope to bring you sometime in February.

    In the meantime, all my news will be here, hope you enjoy the blogs and as always I am really grateful for all your messages of support so keep tweeting and facebooking me messages because they do get to me and give me a real boost on the ice.

    I’ve been running around like a lunatic all week triple checking everything before I go, there’s no option of forgetting stuff so my head is a bit frazzled and I have had meetings to attend and plenty of work to get through still as well so in some ways I’ll be pleased to have some serenity of the ice once I am there.  Although that serenity might not last too long!

    I’ve spent today doing last minute tests on my new sat phones.  It’s my only means of communication with the outside world in Antarctica and I have two this time as last time I broke one.

    After packing and sending my freight containing my pulk (sled) and gear last week, when I get to Punta Arenas I then have the epic task of getting all my gear out of customs and then take it to ALE’s (the logistical provider) warehouse where I will spend most of the 9th fine tuning my gear to get it as light as possible. I’m aiming to get my pulk, which I will be man hauling to about 82kg/12st 9lb.

    I am flat out today writing Christmas cards and sorting a few things before I leave, so on the plane I am going to write a blog in more detail and give you a bit of an insight in to my prep and my thoughts on the weeks ahead.

    Speak soon guys.  Rich.

  • Richard leaves for Antarctica - Friday 7th Dec 2012

    Richard Parks leaves the UK today to head back to Antarctica to ski from Hercules Inlet on the Geographical coastline of Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole.

    Hercules Inlet is one of the recognised start points for South Pole expeditions on the Geographical coastline of Antarctica.

    Richard’s route to the South Pole will be approximately 1,200km/745 miles.  This expedition will be solo, unassisted and unsupported which means he will have to perform and survive in some of the most hostile conditions on the globe on his own, man hauling everything he needs with no external support.

    Richard hopes to complete the journey within 35-40 days, although with safety contingencies and travel plans considered, the expedition will be around 7 weeks long door to door.

    Having sent his pulk, equipment and clothing by freight to Chile last week Richard has been making last minute adjustments to technical kit, satellite phones and writing his Christmas cards before flying today.

    “The last few weeks before an expedition are always crazy” Richard stated.  “Mentally it is pretty draining as there is just so much to go through in your head, leaving something out or forgetting something is not an option.  I’ve had a lot adapting and tweaks to make to kit on top of a lot of work and meetings as well.  It’s been non stop but I am amped to be finally heading off now, it’s game time and I feel ready.”

    Richard’s South Pole expedition will form a crucial part of the research and development for his next world first project, known currently as Project X, which he has earmarked for 2014.  Project X remains top secret for the time being until the explorer and adventurer announces his next pioneering challenge.

    This is Richard’s third R&D expedition this year.  First off he returned to Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America before tackling North America’s brutal Denali for the third time in what proved to be very difficult conditions and a perfect testing environment.  The expedition to the South Pole will be a further step towards Project X.

    Richard stated; “This expedition is the culmination of many months of research and development with my sponsors and suppliers and I am really excited to test these systems in a cold and hostile environment.  Antarctica touched me deeply during the first leg of my 737 Challenge and has never left me, I feel very grateful and privileged to be able to go back.  It was an incredible moment for me to stand on the South Pole and to have the opportunity to return again is really exciting.”


    He added; “It’s going to tough.  I’m basically going to be in solitary confinement in a white box for about 40 days, mentally it’s going be very challenging.  Physically, I am going to be exerting the calorific equivalent of up to two marathons a day, 6,000 – 8,000 calories a day man hauling my pulk which I hope to get as close to 83 kilos/13 stone as possible.”

    “That’s what I will be doing in Punta Arenas in Chile over the next few days before I fly on to the ice, just tweaking my gear to keep the weight down as much as I can.”


    “I’m taking a handful of Christmas cards from people close to me, I don’t have a luxury item on this expedition as such, I guess you could call that my luxury.  It will be my second Christmas day in Antarctica in two years”.

    You can follow Richard’s progress by visiting his Antarctica Blog here at

  • Antarctica Blog - 9th December 2012 - Sunday 9th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys!  I got here last night at about 8pm/9pm local time after 26 hours of travelling.  I was pretty wiped out but I slept well.  Forgotten how windy it is in Punta!  Also currently doing my best to eat as much of Punta’s steak and hamburgers as I possibly can!  I am on fire at the moment trying to smash as many calories in to me as possible!

    I woke up this morning and went to ALE’s office to sort some paperwork out.   They have been really supportive of me whilst making all my plans, I think they were quite surprised that I had my paperwork with me and up to date!  I’d also like to say congrats to the team at ALE as they celebrated their 100th landing on the blue ice runway by Iluyshin!

    I’m currently not quite sure where my freight with most of my gear is! The system says that it is in Miami which is slightly worrying, but we think it might just be that the systems haven’t updated over the weekend and fingers crossed it’s here tomorrow or at least we will be able to locate it for sure.   Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to get some dialogue going back to the UK and find out what’s what.

    Everything is shut here on Sundays so today I have been sorting some of my kit, mainly sorting electronics and recalibrating and resetting all my GPS units in line with the datums and systems out here.  Doing some final bits and bobs, lots of little things.  Hoping to sort my flight out to Union Glacier for Tuesday.

    It’ll be great to get back to Union Glacier Camp.  I have really fond memories of my time there.  Union Glacier Camp is ALE’s temporary logistical hub for expeditions in Antarctica.  The camp is located at the base of Mount Rossman and is about 1,883 miles (3030km) from the southern tip of Chile and just over 600 miles (1000km) from the Geographic South Pole.  It is only accessible by air and the flight from Punta Arenas takes about 4 and a half hours by Russian Iluyshin jet.

    Once you land by jet on the runway you then get shuttled to Union Glacier base camp by specially adapted vehicles that look like something out of top gear with either massive wheels and tyres or tracks.

    I plan to have a couple of days at Union Glacier Base Camp just doing some final preparations and I then get flown in a twin otter to Hercules Inlet where I will begin my expedition.

    Today by pure coincidence I bumped in to my mate Mark who I climbed on Cho Oyu with and also climbed Everest with.  I haven’t seen him since Everest and as a proud Englishman he still hasn’t forgiven me for asking him to hold on to my Welsh flag so I could take a photo with it on Everest, ha! He has just come back from a tough climb on Mount Vinson and it was great to bump in to him.

    Tomorrow morning first thing I am going to sort out more gear and spend the morning at ALE with the comms team to go through my gear and operational systems before I get out there and the afternoon is going to be spent catching up with friends and family on the phone who I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to as everything was so busy when I left.

    I have strange emotions, part of me is feeling the nerves and anticipation of the imminent start of the expedition, the reality and the scale of the mammoth task ahead and the other half is feeling confident and excited about starting it, it’s been a long time in the planning and preparation and I can’t wait to get going.

    Speak soon guys.  Thanks for all your tweets & facebook messages.

  • Antarctica Blog - 11th December 2012 - Tuesday 11th Dec 2012

    Hey Guys.  Pretty stressful day yesterday!...I woke up yesterday thinking my freight was in either here Punta or Miami and it was just a case of finding it and then hopefully still getting on the plane to Antarctica today but then yesterday morning they couldn’t find my freight anywhere!  It wasn’t in Santiago, not in Miami, not in Punta and wasn’t in London.

    The guys at Dynamic Freight and ALE have been brilliant at helping me get to the bottom of it all.  I tried to focus on staying calm getting everything I needed to get ready in case my freight suddenly turned up and I had to get on the plane to Antarctica today, so I did comms and full de briefing ready to go but then at the end of the morning we found out that the system was saying that it was in London although nobody had actual eyeballs on it.  When we had checked on Thursday it was in Miami and due to fly here on Friday so as you can imagine yesterday fast turned in to a pretty stressful day finding out that was not the case.  I spent the entire day going through every single contingency plan to enable me have the opportunity to still attempt the expedition.

    The team here at ALE and also at Dynamic have been incredible and really helpful.  The guys at ALE were looking at flights, I was reassessing the expedition and changing my mindset because I now don’t have the safety margins I had originally in terms of time. I’m going to have to get a wiggle on!

    The good news is that Im still feeling confident having talked through the expedition with the ALE guys who think I'm pretty dialled.  The ALE team have been amazing, working together to resolve the problem and in the meantime I have been focusing on what I can control, taking time to go through all the expedition, mapping, expedition route, way points, crevasses and go though all the mental checklists so come the 17th (the next date for flights in to Union Glacier) I wont have to spend too much time at Union Glacier base camp before I can schedule a drop off to my start point at Hercules Inlet.

    I just got a call mid way through this blog to say that somebody has eyeballs on my freight at last…and that it’s in London!! Half of me is relieved that we've found it, the other is gutted!

    I now have two options, I either pull the freight back through customs, take my pulk out and then get someone from my team to fly all my gear over to Punta direct asap and I use a pulk from here from ALE or the freight goes on the flight to Miami and then on to Punta as planned asap and I sit tight and wait. It all hinges on dialogue from Miami.

    I am just relieved that at the moment it has been found.  We are working out the best strategy to get it to me asap.  The next flight by Iluyshin on to the ice is the 17th, which is Monday, and I simply cannot afford for my gear to get lost or be late. That's the last flight that I can take as I would not be comfortable starting this expedition any later for safety reasons.

    I have to admit that I was freaking out a bit yesterday and pretty stressed.   After a year in the planning and re investing everything I have earned back in to this expedition, to be here now and having to contemplate cancelling it was seriously stressful.

    On the plus side, I will be using the extra time wisely, one of the team at ALE has photographs and satellite mapping of the route so I will be able to do some visualisation and be in a stronger frame of mind.  This setback, although it’s not ideal is not going to derail the my psychology or the expedition. I can still focus on what I can control and give myself the best chance of success.

    I’d like to say a huge thank you to the guys at ALE, Dynamic, my family and team. And all the messages of support I've had.

    One of my team at home has been joking about the fact that she wanted an expedition operations hut on location and at this rate she might well get one if I do need someone to fly all my gear out to me!  She might just get her cardboard hut after all! Ha!

    Yesterday was also a double hit in the nuts and a laugh or cry moment – I was sitting at a desk with all my baggage tags ready for the flight but no luggage to put them on!  How sad do I look in this? Haha!

    The dilemma is not over yet – still deciding what to do, fingers crossed I’ll be on that flight Monday with all my gear. I will keep you guys up to speed!

  • Antarctica Blog - 13th December 2012 - Thursday 13th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys.  Been busy over the last day arranging with my parents and team for one of the team to fly over with my bags.  My team picked up all my gear from Dynamic in the UK this morning and one of the team is on route with all my gear today.  I’m lending a pulk from ALE as mine had to be left behind so I am off to sort out collecting that now.  Today I have been busy map reading and going through satellite photos of my route.  Will tell you more about this and fill you in properly later but thought I would give you a quick gear update!

  • Antarctica Blog - 15th December 2012 - Saturday 15th Dec 2012

    Hey Guys!  My world has completely changed after the uncertainty of the last week. I opened my eyes a very happy man this morning to see my hotel room chaotically covered with my gear.  So far my gear’s done more miles than me!

    Right then, Milo and banana done, time to start packing!

    Thanks for all your good luck messages as always.  Rich.

  • Antarctica Blog - 16th December 2012 - Sunday 16th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys.  We are all systems go here!  I am being picked up to fly on to Antarctica tomorrow morning at 7.20am (10.20GMT on Monday 17th).  Had a final briefing today, then all my gear was collected and weighed to be taken on to the Russian Ilyushin jet that I fly in to Union Glacier and then this afternoon I have been doing some final sorting and making some calls back home to my family.

    We will arrive in Union Glacier Base Camp tomorrow and I will probably spend a day there doing my final pulk packing and prep before I will be dropped off at my start point at Hercules Inlet.

    Today I found out from the team at ALE that if successful I will become the first ever Welsh person to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole.

    Only 23 people to date have successfully skied solo, unassisted and unsupported to the South Pole.  Three people have already set off this season on the same quest and I am the fourth to set off.

    Only 8 British people have reached the South Pole solo, the fastest being the incredible Hannah McKeand in 2006 who reached the pole in 39 days, 9 hours and 33 minutes.

    Chatting about all the amazing people who have already achieved this solo feat and thinking about the fact that just 24 people at this time have reached the pole solo in over 100 years has made me feel very privileged to attempt this unique expedition.

    Thank you to all the people who have supported me and enabled me to get this far.  So before I get too emotional on you all, here’s some facts I thought you all might like to know about tomorrow as I head on to the beautiful Antarctic continent;

    • The blue ice runaway of Union Glacier is 348km from Punta Arenas and the flight takes 4 and a half hours.

    • The ice runway is blue because of the age of the ice and is being eroded by 20mm a year by the wind.

    • A recent glaciologist working from Union Glacier estimated that the ice at Union Glacier is 12,000 years old which puts in to perspective the significance of leaving the continent in the condition that you found it…you wouldn’t take a pee on the Mona Lisa would you?!

    • Union Glacier Base Camp itself is 8km away from the blue ice runaway.  The camp is at the foot of Mount Rossman and it’s in this location because it is more sheltered from high winds.

    • The Temperature at Union Glacier at the moment around -16c.  The Russian Ilyushin jet we will fly on to the ice in has heated engines.  It is designed to fly in Siberia and has a 9 strong Russian crew.

    • All my gear today weighed in at 86.7kg and with a few last minute tweaks and minus the weight of the bags I am hoping to get it to as close to 80kg as possible.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 1 - 18th December 2012 - Tuesday 18th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys.  Started at 4.00pm GMT/ 1.00pm Chilean time.  Easing into it with a 6 hour day today.  Tough climb out of Hercules Inlet.  A modest 15k skied.  All good.  Rich.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 2 - 19th December 2012 - Wednesday 19th Dec 2012

    23.30pm GMT/20.30pm local time

    I’ve got 2 full days under my belt, and just easing my way in, I feel like I am making good progress.  Yesterday on my first day it was tough going as there was a lot of climbs because the sea ice is naturally concaved so the first section climbing out of the inlet on to terra firma is a tough section, especially with a full pulk weighing about 89kg.  I also had a second climb through the first roll off of the glacier.

    I climbed about 400m vertically on the first day and travelled 15km, slow going but was important to get myself in a good position for today.  Only skied for 6 hours but I was blessed with perfect conditions which was awesome to have on my first day.

    Today I skied for 7 hours and covered 25.4km/13.7 nautical miles/15.78 miles.

    I woke up this morning to a complete whiteout, couldn’t see 10 metres in front but decided to keep moving and after the first 4 hours the whiteout cleared a little, but then heavy cloud arrived so the light was flat.  It was really hard to navigate and keep my bearing, with no landmarks, nothing to navigate off and no shadows so I could use the sastrugi to navigate but this afternoon I had a bit more shadows so it was better.  Conditions under foot were very good.

    I am easing my way in, I am not firing on all cylinders yet but my morale is good and every time I am in the tent and eat some food I know that my pulk is a little lighter.

    Since I pitched my tent conditions have been perfect with awesome visibility – the irony!

    Today was a big day as I am around and above the heavy crevassing by Hercules Inlet.  It’s a big milestone for me as it is one of the first major hazards navigated.

    Got another climb tomorrow but in the next few days I will be out of the first mental leg of the journey for me and I am looking forward to getting in to my groove.

    I had Thai Green Curry tonight for dinner and after my sked call (my scheduled phone call in to the ALE guys at union glacier) I had chocolate and orange rice pudding, I am eating well and doing good.

    I am only 2 days in and it’s taken every ounce of my willpower not to open the Christmas cards my family gave me! Ha!  got another 6 days to wait until to Christmas.  Speak soon guys, thanks for all your tweets and messages of support.  Rich.

    INFO: Sastrugi are sharp irregular grooves or ridges formed on a snow surface by wind erosion and deposition, and found in polar and temperate snow regions. They differ from sand dunes in that the ridges are parallel to the prevailing winds.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 3 - 20th December 2012 - Thursday 20th Dec 2012

    I woke up this morning and conditions were perfect apart from a moderate head wind, which kept me honest.  This morning I had my first poo and I almost cried when I felt the weight of it and put it in my Pulk.  For those that don’t know you have to carry your poo back with you, nothing can be left on the ice to keep it as pristine as you found it.

    I skied for 7 and a half hours today and covered 26km/16 miles.

    I’m still easing in to the trip, building my hours.

    A crazy thing happened today.  When I was pitching my tent at the end of the day I saw this massive bird flying towards me.  I thought I was seeing things.  It was a massive brown bird, with a large wingspan.  It had a long dark beak and amphibian like webbed feet.  It literally landed, stood there and stared at me.  Then it picked up the wrist loop on the handle of one of my ski poles and tried to fly away with it, I had to run and shoo it away!

    It was absolutely nuts, I didn’t think for one minute it would be able to pick it up but it did.  If anyone knows what it was let me know!  Underneath the brown wings it was beige in colour.

    I had Beef Bourguignon for tea, which was really nice, and in my treat bag I have jelly bellies.   I think after taking jelly bellies on pretty much every expedition I have been on I am getting good at guessing the flavour of each one!

    Pretty tired so off to sleep, all good here.  Rich.

  • Antarctica Blog - Days 4 & 5 - 22nd December 2012 - Saturday 22nd Dec 2012

    Yesterday was my best day so far, I covered 27.4km/17 miles and the going was good.  I was having trouble with the skins on my skis yesterday morning so I took them off and put on my spares and my new set were a little wider which made things better, just as much glide going forward and better grip.

    Last night I noticed I have blisters on my left and right heel.  I am looking after them though, I’m on top of them and they are no worse today.

    Today was my toughest day by far.  I woke up this morning and I was feeling really tired, my body was sore and I found it hard to get out of the sleeping bag.

    The light was completely flat, conditions were poor and I was making really bad progress, fighting for every foot and because I wasn’t going very fast my pulk kept dropping in to all the sastrugi and I had to pull the pulk out of every bit of sastrugi, it was so demoralising.  There were no shadows, nothing to get a bearing on or follow a bearing and it was really slow going off my GPS.  I got really frustrated so I put my tent up, cut my cooking board up and made a chest harness for my GPS unit so I can navigate better, then I read some notes from people special to me and pulled my socks up and had a word with myself.

    It’s the first time I have had to give myself a bit of a talking to.

    The weather got better and I made good progress this afternoon so I skied on for longer today to make up the time.  I covered 25.4km/15 miles today and pretty much all of it was in the second half the day.

    My muscles are really sore and it was always going to come I guess.  Surprisingly though I feel much better than I did this morning and I had beef and ale stew for dinner tonight which was amazing.  Tomorrow is going to be a better day.

    Altitude wise, I’m at just under 800m so in the last 4 days I have climbed 600m.

    Today was a bit of a milestone, I put the mountains from the coast in my rear view and there is now absolutely nothing on the horizon for 360 degrees.

    I will continue to climb in altitude all the way to the polar plateau, which is at around 87 degrees.

    Expedition total km/miles travelled to date:  119.2km/74 miles 

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 6 - 23rd December 2012 - Sunday 23rd Dec 2012

    Long day today, first of many! 8.5 hour ski, 29.3km/18 miles covered.  Great to be in 81 degrees.  Only 10 to go! Moderate head wind but good conditions.  Was windy pitching tent and awesome to get in bag!  All good, Rich.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 7 - Christmas Eve - Monday 24th Dec 2012

    It’s been a real good day today guys, I skied for 9 hours and covered 32.09km/19 miles. Conditions were great, going was really good and I had a good morning, which set me off on the right foot.  I have had 6 days easing myself in and I knew at some point I was going to have to finish easing myself in and actually get on with it so I took advantage of the conditions and got a steady 9 hours in, I feel tired but in real good spirits.

    Had Chicken Jalfrezi for dinner and I am sat having a cup of tea as we speak.

    The challenging thing is the pace and the size of my pulk.  I am making good progress, everything is going according to my expedition plan but the weight of my pulk, the pace and climbing is just the wrong side of comfortable at the moment and I am really looking forward to the pulk getting lighter for the final part on the plateau but that is not for a long time yet!

    In order to cover the ground it’s important to try and get a good rhythm skiing.  Because of the weight it’s a rhythm that I can’t maintain for anymore than 2 hours so I am doing stints of 2 hours on at the moment and 15 mins off.  That works out about 10 hours truckin’.

    I am really grateful for Roger Mear for his advice leading in to this expedition and off the back of his advice I am really grateful for my Dad being an engineer who has adapted my MSR stove….Except the downside to all this is that it is now so efficient that I am burning considerably less fuel than I thought I would!  So I am not getting rid of as much fuel as I would currently like which is breaking my heart a little but on the plus side my stove is awesome and saving a lot of time.  After all that deliberation though about whether to take whisky or not I opted for more fuel rather than whisky!

    Talking of whisky, I hope you all enjoy a well-earned drink and rest tomorrow or today as you are probably reading this and have an awesome Christmas day.  Thank you so much for all your messages of support, I can’t wait to open my cards tomorrow morning and I will speak to you all tomorrow from another Christmas day in Antarctica!

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 8 - Christmas Day - Tuesday 25th Dec 2012

    Another big day today guys.  I skied for 9 hours and covered 32.5km/17.5 nautical miles/20 miles.  I am going to aim to hit that every day now as my target.  I’m tired but now I have got in to the groove and my day systems are pretty tight.  My morale is high but my body is already showing signs of creaking.  Today every part of me took it in turn to hurt, they all had their 15 minutes of fame today!  You do spend a lot of time inside yourself with a lot of time to think.  Physically the only thing you have to go on is how your body feels, it’s a very rare thing to have absolutely no distractions so you get a real chance to listen to your body.

    Conditions were really good today, but once again man hauling the pulk through sastrugi was tough.  It’s hard to tell, as I have no reference/able to compare as this is my first full journey from the coastline but I think the sastrugi I was hitting were pretty big patches of sastrugi.  For me tackling the sastrugi was closer to man hauling my pulk on the North Pole than my previous experience in Antarctica and it was tough going.  I just want to grease the groove now though and keep it up.  My mindset is when the going is good I just have to ski as much as I can and go for it.

    It’s been very different to my last Christmas in Antarctica.  Those that know the Mum Christmas card story from last time will laugh.  It’s comic genius…2 years ago my mum wrote hardly anything in my Christmas card, not only did I have a heart felt message this time, which was really nice, she packed a present in it! so I have carried a present all this way as well!  If I knew that I wouldn’t have carried it! It’s insane! Ha! The crazy thing is she saw me weighing everything and cutting everything down, I found it really funny but it was lovely.  I do feel close to the people that I care about today because I have had some pretty awesome cards with some pretty awesome words in them.  It’s made a massive difference.

    I opened the cards tonight after pitching my tent.  My Christmas dinner was chicken tikka masala, chocolate and orange rice pudding followed by a special fruit salad.  It just so happens that I have picked 3 food bags out randomly and had curry 3 nights in a row!

    I just want to say Happy Christmas guys and a massive thank you to everyone for all your awesome messages of support.  They are read back to me by the team back home every day.

    Like I say my day systems are pretty tight now.  I have been smashing my tent up in around 20-25 minutes.  That includes pitching the tent, all the guides up, burying my snow flaps, getting clean snow to melt water, tying my pulk away, pegging my skis so they get sun all night and putting my solar charger up.

    The thing I could improve on (and anyone who knows me will vouch for this!) is that my systems could be a bit tighter in the mornings! I don’t think I have left on time once yet, today was my closest with me starting 9 minutes after my target time, I will take that as a moral victory!

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 9 - 26th December 2012 - Thursday 27th Dec 2012

    SHORT UPDATE - Hi guys.  Ran out of credit on my sat phone last night after my sked call but all topped up this morning, yesterday I skied for 9 hrs and covered 34.43km/21 miles.  Just had breakfast and all prepped for today so I’ll do a longer update of yesterday and today later tonight.  Have a good day guys!

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 10 - 27th December 2012 - Thursday 27th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys.  Yesterday I had great conditions, under foot and visibility wise it was just a really good day, I woke up feeling positive and happy and the day went well.  It was a memorable day too as I crossed the 82 degree line of latitude which felt really good.  I skied 9 hours and covered 34.43km/21 miles, my longest ski yet.

    This morning I woke up and it was really windy and I started the day off with a coffee spill in the tent, I was really annoyed with myself for this, a bit of a schoolboy error and that started the day off being tough.  Today was tough going, I felt like I had to fight for every metre.  I had a moderate but unrelenting headwind all day and the sastrugi was tough going again, they seem bigger today and my bearing was crossing then diagonally so it was really challenging.  I had quite a few moments swearing at my pulk calling it all sorts of things.

    I had great visibility, ambient temperature was probably about -15c but the wind made it feel much colder.  I had to be careful today as any exposed flesh got real cold, real quick.  I feel really pleased with myself, I feel like I really achieved today, I skied for 9 hours and covered 32km/19 miles/17.26 nautical miles even though it was my hardest day so far.

    Mentally and physically I am absolutely shattered tonight but I feel good for having got through it.

    It felt the coldest I have felt so far because of the headwind, so far temperature wise it’s been really good, around -15c ambient temperature most days.

    Gear wise everything is great.  My gloves systems are awesome, I used my Rab exped down jacket today with my new adapted waterproof inside lining and it worked really well.

    Food update; Alison at Fuizion has been awesome getting my food together for this expedition and I am loving my food so far.  When I first met her I said I didn’t mind spicy food, in fact I said I liked it.  I think she’s taken it to the next level as after having had 3 curries in a row for dinner I pulled out a bag tonight and it was chilli con carne with some beasty red chillies!! ha! My mouth is on fire!

    I’m also thinking of taking up Origami when I return.  I have found new ways to make toilet paper last.  I can fold the sh*t out of one piece of toilet paper.  My folding skills are next level!

    Altitude wise, I’m at 880m/2,887ft.  Had a bit of a climb today, which also made it tough going.

    Sastrugi ranges from a few centimetres to around a metre high.  It’s exhausting work pulling my pulk in and out and over it.  Before I left Christian Eide (who recorded the fastest solo, unassisted and unsupported journey to the South Pole in 2011) sent me a good luck message saying “hug the sastrugi!” I was thinking today that I was about as far from hugging them as I could be, I hated them!

    Pretty wacked, all cozy in my bag and off to sleep.  Night guys!


    Expedition total km/miles travelled to date: 279.52km/173 miles.

    160.32km/99 miles covered over the last 5 days.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 11 - 28th December 2012 - Friday 28th Dec 2012

    Another tough day today were really high winds this morning and a real strong headwind all day.  I climbed about 150m as well so it’s been a tough day all round.  I am now at 1,024m.  I travelled 27.4km/17 miles/14.78 nautical miles today, skied for 8 and a half hours, a really tough day.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 12 - 29th December 2012 - Saturday 29th Dec 2012

    Hi Guys.  Thought I would fill you in a bit more about yesterday first before I start on today.  Yesterday morning started off badly.  It was really windy in the night and it was so windy that I didn’t hear my alarm on my watch because of the noise of the wind, so I overslept, which started the day on the back foot.  It was really windy so packing the tent away was really challenging and I was battling a strong headwind all day.  Conditions under foot were good, visibility was good, but it was so demoralising as I just wasn’t going anywhere.  The wind chill was quite high yesterday and it felt really cold.  I was getting more and more tired and it was like banging my head against a brick wall so in the end I had a shorter day and only skied for 8 and a half hours and did 27.4km/17 miles.

    I was really down and I got in much later in to my tent because of the late start and I literally sat down in the tent just as I was about to make my sked call at 9pm.  I was low, tired, everything was hurting me, it was my first big proper wobble.

    But this morning I woke up determined to have a good day today and put yesterday behind me and try and make up some of the kilometres that I lost yesterday.

    This morning I was up bright and early and did an interview for the Wales on Sunday on the phone and was then on the road at 9am, the first time I have set off on time.  Conditions were good today.  There was a mild headwind all day but visibility was good and conditions under foot were good.

    I was really determined today.  It was also an educational day as I put my ipod on and listened to a few audio books, which was cool!  I covered 33.4km/20 miles (my 2nd longest ski so far) and skied for 9 hours.

    It was windy setting up the tent tonight and although I am tired I feel really satisfied that I have put in a good day off the back of a bad day.  We all have bad days, and they are expected on expeditions, but having them on the bounce is worrying, so I feel quite content tonight and happy.  I am sat drinking my horlicks and eating minced lamb and vegetables.

    Pulk update: I think about how heavy the pulk is pretty much every single minute of the day!  It is what it is though, I can’t change it but every break I stop and have some soup and a flapjack mentally I think that’s a few less grams I have to pull.

    Every single morning it breaks my heart putting my poo bag in the pulk! I swear some of them feel heavier than the food I have eaten! to be honest though I’ve stopped worrying about poo weight now, there’s no point stressing about it.

    I am at 1,073m now and although I don’t feel the altitude at the moment I know physiologically that I am working a little harder out here but psychologically I know as I continue further on, the pulk will get lighter.

    I was on the sastrugi today and I got pulled back, maybe the pulk is getting lighter and my body is getting more tired or maybe it’s actually me that’s getting physically lighter but I fell over today.  I am just glad nobody was watching, that is one benefit of being all alone out here!  I am fine though and all is good.

    My water is boiling so gotta dash guys, speak tomorrow!

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 13 - 30th December 2012 - Sunday 30th Dec 2012

    It’s been a good day at the office today.  Started off in to another headwind and throughout the day the wind died down and as I put camp up tonight the silence was quite eerie, you could here a pin drop.  I skied for 9 hours and covered 34.3km/18.51 nautical miles/21miles.  I climbed today too and I am now at the altitude of 1,136m/3,727ft.  A real good day today.

    The going is really mixed in terms of terrain from really hard and slippery ice, not blue ice, but hard ice to wind swept snow, to quite soft snow.  You always have to be on you toes as it can be different under foot.  Having good visibility really makes a massive difference so I can maximize all my time on each 2-hour stint of skiing.  I have turned into a bit of a number cruncher, and I monitor my progress constantly.  If visibility is good it makes such a difference to my progress because it’s easier to navigate and I spend less time checking my bearing.  It’s not necessarily about cloud cover either, when the light is good I have references to keep and hold a bearing to which makes a real difference and I can just operate so much more efficiently.  Physically I am pushing hard all day, I am tired today but feel good.

    There are a few big crevasses that I have GPS co-ordinates for.  I passed the first major crevasse field at the start of the expedition and today marked another point as I navigated one of the biggest crevasses I have GPS for and I have another one to navigate around tomorrow.  Another reason why today was a good day is that I went in to the 83-degree line of latitude.  Tomorrow I will be a third of the way through.

    I have got some kind of fungal groin infection, my first pair of pants have worn through already, I am on to my second pair and using my athletes foot cream on my crotch!  It’s not painful, it’s just from the chafing, it’s getting a bit irritating but I am on top of it and just trying to prevent it from getting infected.

    Blister update: The blisters on my feet aren’t getting any worse and they aren’t any better.  I’m taking the fact that they aren’t getting any worse as a positive.

    Beard update: My beard is full of food, standard.

    Dinner update: Thai green curry followed by rice pudding with fruit tonight, Thai green curry is my favourite!

    I hear it’s New Years Eve tomorrow, haven’t got any plans as yet, I’m waiting to see what’s lined up at the moment!....Seriously guys, have a great New Years Eve wherever you are, have one for me and thank you for your continued messages of support and for all your support in 2012.  I wish you all health, happiness and prosperity in 2013.  I won’t be blogging tomorrow night, just sending you a quick update on my km/miles and I’ll speak to you all on New Years Day.  Rich.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 14 - New Year's Eve - Monday 31st Dec 2012

    Morning guys!  Thought I’d send you an unexpected morning message! Another big day ahead of me inching closer to the Pole, conditions looks good, still windy but good visibility.  Just had scrambled egg, bacon and mushrooms for breakfast, drinking my coffee and sat in my tent.

    Happy New Years Eve!  I am not sure where you are and what you are dong but I hope that you are doing it with people that you love.

    I know we all think differently about these things but personally I think New Years Eve is a really powerful time to reflect and to dream about and see what’s ahead.

    Amongst all the chaos and the alcohol of tonight if you can, take some time to see what you want from 2013 as we can all do and be whatever we dream.

    Once again thank you for all your messages of support, I get them all and believe me they pick me up when things get tough.

    Wishing you guys health, happiness and prosperity in 2013, our journey together is only just beginning.

    I know despite my pearls of welsh wisdom, you guys will all be smashed tonight so I won’t blog tonight but blog tomorrow morning.

    Gotta get back to my party, Happy New Year Everyone!

  • Antarctica Day - Day 15 - New Year's Day - Tuesday 1st Jan 2013


    Hi Guys.  Really windy this morning and I want to get going so I will call in tonight with a full update on yesterday and today.  Yesterday I skied 32.7km/20 miles.  Speak to you later guys, Happy New Year!

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 15 - New Year's Day - Tuesday 1st Jan 2013


    Hi Guys.  I am absolutely boll*cksed.  It’s been a wonderful and totally epic day but as I didn’t blog last night I’ll start with yesterday.  This sounds insane but I genuinely can’t remember what happened yesterday, my focus is so much on one day at a time that I honestly can’t remember but I do know that last night and this morning it was really tough being on my own, more so than Christmas Day.  I was really missing everyone back home.

    I woke up early this morning to do a live phone call for BBC Radio Wales.  I was feeing a bit melancholy this morning and a bit down.

    After the phone call and breakfast I set off in to a mild but moderate headwind.  The wind got harder and harder and colder so much so that towards the end of my first tab (2-hour stint of skiing) I had to change my gloves and put my facemask on.  I was making reasonable progress, but then during my second stint of skiing everything changed.

    Maybe for the second hour of the first 2-hour tab (it’s hard to say in terms of time) I could see dark clouds on the horizon, the weather systems come from the south and hit me head on and I knew I was about to Ski in to them.  It’s hard to tell how quickly they will reach you or you will ski in to them because of the wind but around the start of my second 2-hour tab it suddenly went really dark, the clouds came over and within 5 minutes they broke the light and I had total flat light, I had no shadows and couldn’t see anything.  The wind picked up and it was a lot colder and conditions went from flat light, then spin drift to white out and I think (I am not sure) it might have even been snow but it is really rare for it to snow in Antarctica.  I honestly don’t know what it was, the conditions just changed really quick from flat to a white out to a crazy white out with a crazy headwind.

    Progress was painfully slow.  I had nothing to navigate off and with no shadows, you don’t even know what you are stepping on, you have to be so careful with every step, you don’t want to fall and sprain your ankle or trip over your skis and you have no idea even if you are on sastrugi.

    It went on for about 2 hours and I carried on painfully slow.  It was so bad I didn’t break and just kept going.  Every step I just wanted to pull the plug and every step I was thinking this is just insane.  In the middle of all this I got vertigo, because I completely lost all the horizon and I felt like I was on a boat.  I had about half an hour of vertigo where I was like bambi on my skis thinking the ground was moving underneath me.

    I just wanted to pull the plug every single step, my fingers got really cold, I had to change my gloves again, it was epic.  The only thing which kept me going was that it was New Year’s Day and that I didn’t want to sh*t out at the start of a New Year, I wanted to start 2013 strong.

    When I looked at my GPS and realised I had done just 3km in 2 hours and just as I was about to pull the plug, and I thought sod this, this is actually insane, I saw a tiny speck of piercing blue in the distance.  I thought I would wait to see if it was the end of the weather system and seeing it gave me the confidence that I might ski through it.  The blue gradually got bigger and bigger.  I skied through it, still with a headwind but then it dropped, conditions were suddenly perfect and I had the most glorious afternoon, it was insane.

    All I could think of was that it was an emotional purging for me.  In my mind I woke up feeling melancholy and then it was like this epic 2 and a half hours of my life, which was like a purging/clear out, and when the skies broke I had this huge rush of optimism, happiness, gratitude and joy it was like the start of a new year.  I had such an overwhelming feeling of joy.

    Despite losing around 3 hours, in the afternoon I smashed it and I skied for 9 hours today and skied 33km/20 miles.  I climbed again today and I am now at 1,241m/4,071ft.

    I am fu**ing knackered and absolutely bolloc*sed.  (Sorry for the swearing today, I am so tired).  The toughest day by far, but the most rewarding and a New Year’s Day I will remember.  I was so happy to get in my tent.  It’s cold today too.  For me -20c is a bit of a threshold.  Above -20c is comfortable but it was very cold today and feels below -20c.  Even in my tent now I am in my primaloft jacket.

    I am shattered.  Sometimes mountains, the outdoors, nature, gives you an experience that just hits a little deeper than normal, that was one today it was an awesome experience.  It reaffirms my belief that we are all part of something bigger.

    And to top it off tonight I have a non-spicy meal of spaghetti bolognese!! What a day.

    Expedition total km/miles travelled to date: 440.32km/273 miles.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 16 - 2nd January 2013 - Wednesday 2nd Jan 2013

    Skied 33.5km/20 miles today, good conditions but windy.  Tired so I will do a full update tomorrow morning.  Rich.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 17 - 3rd January 2013 - Thursday 3rd Jan 2013

    Hi guys.  Feeling good today but an update on yesterday first.  I was tired yesterday and my body was screaming, that’s why I didn’t do a full blog, I just wanted to get into my sleeping bag and hibernate.

    I skied 33.5km/20 miles/18.07 nautical miles.  Conditions were good but I felt jaded yesterday.  It was 16 days in to the expedition and physically and mentally I was really tired.  Everything was hard going, focusing on a bearing was tough because I kept losing my concentration, it was just tiring.

    I have a target and I have set a standard and I just dug in really.  There is no science behind it, just digging in.  I skied for 9 and half hours still to ensure I got to 33.5km.  I was so shattered, and so glad to get in my bag.  I love my Rab sleeping bag.  My Andes 800 bag has been to Alaska, South America, loads of places with me and I zipped it up, opened my little note from home and just escaped everything and went to sleep.

    Had a surprise yesterday, a plane flew over me!  It’s the first life I had seen in 16 days.  It scared the living daylights out of me!  I had some music on and I was focused on a bearing, in my own little world and I thought what the hell is that noise?  I thought I was going crazy at first and didn’t know what the noise was.  By the time I realised what was going on, it was flying right over me and then away from me.  Even though I saw it on the horizon I was so oblivious, it was really cool to see the plane.  I spoke to the ALE guys on my sked call who told me it was one of twin otter’s picking up some scientists who have been doing an experiment and they were taking them back to Union Glacier.

    I woke up this morning with a spring in my step.  I felt rested and recovered after a good sleep and this morning I had scrambled egg, bacon, mushrooms, a coffee and I re-read some Christmas cards and felt really good day.  I made really good progress.

    Conditions were awesome today.  I skied for 9 hours and did 33.9km/21 miles/18.29 nautical miles.

    Today I was spending a lot of time reflecting on last year, the New Year ahead and my crazy day New Year’s Day experience!  I just felt really positive today and excited about a lot of exciting plans for 2013 and just generally felt really good.

    I’m still climbing and currently around 1,300m.  The next crevasses I know of are around 88 degrees.  I crossed the 84-degree line of latitude yesterday.

    As I move further inland it is noticeably colder, even though conditions today were bluebird it was really cold.

    Want to hear my 3 New Year’s Resolutions?!

    1/ Celebrate the small moments that sometimes we take for granted

    2/ I am going to start growing my own vegetables

    3/ Is a private one, nothing rude but it’s personal so I can’t say!

    Tonight I have had a good old traditional British dinner...Lamb, potatoes and vegetables followed by fruit salad.  Just drinking a nice cup of Redbush tea too.

    All my gear is holding up really well.  Tonight I am going to spend the night in looking after myself!  Gonna spend some time re-dressing my blisters and check my face.  I have some cracking underneath my nose so I am going to get some moisturiser on it and have a night of TLC!

    My spirits are really high.  I am feeling confident, grateful and surprisingly, feeling very happy.  I have a lot of positive thoughts going through my mind, which is easier said than done when you are tired.  Naturally your mind tends to go through the negatives.

    During the early stages of the expedition I found it difficult steering away from the negative thoughts but now I am feeling really positive.  This trip has given me so much already.  Emotionally I am feeling really good.  Physically I am starting to creak a little.  Everything is hurting.  I am not shy of pain, I expected it to hurt and I expected it to be tough, but I am at that point where things are sore.  It’s not a shock to me, it’s nothing new, I was prepared for it.  Mentally I am still strong but my body is creaking.

    The thing that is having the biggest impact on my experience is emotionally I am feeling really good which is boosting my mental state and ultimately my mental state is keeping my body going.

    Have a top day tomorrow guys and thanks for all your New Year messages!

    Expedition total km/miles travelled to date: 507.72km/315 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 143.25.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 18 - 4th January 2013 - Friday 4th Jan 2013

    Hi guys.  Good day today.  Pretty good conditions, patches where it was a little harder going through softer snow as I had no glide on the skis but I had a very light headwind which was really nice, it just kept my temperature under control and I made good progress today.  Skied for 9 hours and covered 34.1km/21 miles.

    The wind is really spooky tonight, there is not any wind at all it is so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  The solar energy from the sun is blasting on the tent and it is boiling inside.  I am absolutely baking and am sat here in my tent in nothing but my union jack pants!  It’s like I am in a greenhouse, I should have tomatoes growing in here!

    Dinner tonight was lamb stew, which was lush, and I am eating fruit salad as we speak.  I am loving my Fuizion food.  It still blows my mind that I can be in the middle of nowhere and I am eating fresh fruit, which just tastes amazing.

    Enjoyed my night of TLC last night and slept well.  Blister update: My blisters are stable, that’s a good word to use, pretty much sums that up.

    I am loving my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season matt.  Super light and very comfy.  Everything I have got I tested well before I got out here already so all my gear is doing exactly what I’d planned and gear wise it’s all going well.  My Goal Zero solar charger is working really well too.

    Speak tomorrow guys!

    Expedition total km/miles travelled to date: 541.82km/336 miles.

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 152.25

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 20 - 6th January 2013 - Sunday 6th Jan 2013


    Hi guys.  I woke up yesterday morning feeling tired but still really positive and happy.  After going to bed in perfect conditions I woke up and it was pretty cold.  I looked out of the tent, the light was pretty flat, cloud cover was quite low but it seemed okay.  I packed everything up as normal and within 30 minutes in to my first 2-hour tab of skiing it had gone from flat light to complete whiteout and it was horrific going.

    I tried to ski through it feeling really optimistic, keep going one step at a time telling myself that every step is a step closer to the pole and all that mantra.  But my ski’s were all over the place, I couldn’t see the sastrugi I was on, couldn’t see anything.  I had my first break at 2 hours, composed myself, and tried to keep myself going.  In the third hour I started to feel really bad, I had vertigo symptoms and felt nauseous.  I was absolutely boll*cksed.  Every step I took it felt like I had another pulk strapped to me.

    It was mentally draining too because I had such an internal dialogue going on.  I wanted to carry on knowing every step is a step closer to the pole but on the other hand I knew I needed to rest so I made a really tough decision to stop coming to the conclusion that resting was more efficient.

    Mentally and physically it was totally draining.  I pitched the tent and just passed out.  In the middle of my sleep (I can’t really remember doing this as I was half asleep, I guess a bit like sleep walking, I wasn’t completely with it) I ate all my food for the day period.

    I have been really disciplined when it comes to food up until now and I pride myself on this.  When you are really hungry in the day and you just have to eat a flapjack as a snack, sometimes it can be tough but I am normally really disciplined with my food but in my half sleep I gorged my way through my entire supply of day food.  I woke up about 3 hours later, annoyed with myself when I realised I had eaten all my food but I could see a horizon and the weather system was clearing so I knew the system was moving over me so I packed the tent up and tried to make up some time.

    I skied for 3 hours in the morning and just under 3 hours later into the evening and covered 20.7km/12 miles.

    I was absolutely shattered, had no energy in my legs, even as I pitched the tent in the evening and walked around the tent I was wobbly and tired.

    By normal standards 21km is still a good haul but it wasn’t my best day and not up to my normal standard I have set myself, so I decided to re-arrange my pulk, sort my rubbish out, have an early night and today I feel much better.  I feel rested and conditions look better outside the tent, clearer skies.  I have spent the last half hour doing some yoga because my muscles are so sore and tight.

    Yesterday was easily the worst day of the expedition.  Not just in kilometres made but in fatigue, moral and psychological strain.

    Today is a new day though and I am celebrating the little things as per one of my new year’s resolutions!  I have some more energy in my legs and have good conditions.  I am having a cup of coffee ready to speak to Roy Noble on BBC Radio Wales, you’re probably reading this after this has happened now (we will post the iplayer link tomorrow).  I think yesterday was the halfway point of the expedition, it was nice to hit that marker, a long way to go yet and just focusing on each day at a time.

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 562.52km/349 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 158.25.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 21 - 7th January 2013 - Monday 7th Jan 2013

    Hi Guys.  Yesterday, was a good day, had a good chat with Roy Noble in the morning on BBC Radio Wales and had good conditions throughout the day, which was nice after the poor day before.  Just had a good steady day.

    Yesterday I got my first glimpse of the Theil Mountains in the distance, which was a significant milestone.  They are about 60 km away on my right and to the west.  It’s a bit of shock to the senses, I haven’t seen anything for so long it was weird to see them but cool.

    Yesterday afternoon the temperature dropped significantly, not really sure why as the wind was consistent but pitching the tent was really hard work last night because it was so cold, my hands were really cold so it was great to get in the tent and last night I had Beef and Ale stew for dinner which was just awesome.

    I am starting to feel hungrier during the day now, maybe I am getting to the point where I have used a lot of my fat reserves up or maybe it’s just because I am getting tired (could be a bit of both).  However my Fuizion Food is absolutely amazing.  To get in the tent and rehydrate freeze-dried food, which has proper bits of stew and vegetables in and tastes amazing is absolutely awesome.  It’s a real boost to morale as well because it’s hard going during the day on flapjacks, soups, bars etc for 10 hours.  It’s such a boost to get in the tent and have a proper dinner.

    Admittedly the way my body is feeling I could eat about 40 of them, one after the other but the fine balance was always going to be between what I can actually carry, to what I eat.  I have to constantly fight my mind to stop wondering about food, meals and dinners.

    Yesterday I skied for 9 and a half hours and covered 34km/21 miles/18.35 nautical miles.  I also skied in to the 85th degree.

    Today I skied 9 and half hours and I had my biggest day yet covering 35km/21 miles/18.89 nautical miles.

    Conditions were good, I had a very mild wind, great visibility, great conditions under foot it was just a generally good day.  I had a good meal last night and had Kedgeree for breakfast, which I love and is one of my favourites so I felt really good this morning setting off.  I am feeling positive, confident and my morale is high.  When you are on your own out here, moral and emotions play such a significant part in things.

    Towards the end of the day I had a surreal optical illusion.  During the second half of the day it looked like there was a dark cloud on the horizon, which I was a little apprehensive about as I thought here we go again, thinking a weather system was arriving.  It turns out it wasn’t a cloud and the optical illusion was actually the change of angle of the glacier reflecting differently to the bit I was on and it was actually a significant incline of the glacier.  I was torn, half of me was relieved that it wasn’t bad weather and the other half was thinking I have to get up that!

    The next 200km are a significant climb.  I am currently at 1,357m/4,452ft (which is almost 300 metres higher than Snowdon and about the same height as Ben Nevis).  From here until the plateau at about 88 degrees I have to climb 1500m. The Polar Plateau is at an average elevation of about 3,000 metres (9,800 ft).

    There is really big sastrugi ahead of me in the 85th degree.  With the Thiel mountains on my right I have navigated to the west region of the sastrugi but I am expecting the next couple of days to be hitting significant sastrugi as all the reports from previous expeditions is that it is pretty big this year but I am not feeling daunted by it, I’ve got to get through it, so it’s just a case of head down and arse up.

    Back to food…I love Jelly Bellies, I take them on all my expeditions, and they are one of my snack foods.  Now I am beginning to feel a lot hungrier I have set myself a rule that I am only aloud to eat 2 jelly bellies at once.  It’s a strict 2 at a time rule.  In one of my earlier blogs I said that I have eaten so many on different expeditions that I could guess the flavours, I am completely wrong I can’t, haven’t a clue!

    A friend of mine wrote on Twitter today that she is missing my hashtags on Twitter so I’ve decided I am going to hashtag at the end of every blog.  My team read back some tweets tonight from family, friends and followers and messages from my Facebook page.  It really does make a difference so thank you for all your support and keep them coming.  It’s awesome to hear them.  Speak to you tomorrow guys, hope you all have a top Tuesday.  Rich.


    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 631.52km/392 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 177.25.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 22 - 8th January 2013 - Tuesday 8th Jan 2013

    Hi Guys.  Absolutely shattered here.  34.3km/21 miles today.  So tired in my bag, blog properly tomorrow.

    #sastrugisuck #epicfewdaysahead

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 23 - 9th January 2013 - Wednesday 9th Jan 2013

    Hi Guys.  Another tiring day today but first yesterday.  I skied for 9½ hours and covered 34.3km/21 miles/18.51 nautical miles.  Great conditions yesterday but I started to climb to 1,505m in altitude and I also had challenging sastrugi, it was hard going.  The sastrugi was just constant and I was absolutely shattered.  When I got in my bag last night everything was screaming - my achilles, my knees, shins, hamstrings, quads, glutes, back, shoulder, absolutely everything was hurting yesterday.  It also got really cold towards the end of the day and it was pretty cold last night.

    One of the things I love about expeditions though is that it gives you so much perspective.  At the end of an exhausting day the sound of my stove burning is the happiest sound in the world, it’s just lovely.  I know I am warm, sheltered and safe in my tent for the evening.  I was so tired I ate my food inside my bag last night and then went to sleep.

    Today has been the coldest day so far.  Might be because I am gaining in altitude which is effecting me physiologically, I doubt that its that though as I’m not at significant altitude.  I think it’s just the body fat on me, or rather the lack of it.  It’s been another challenging day managing my fingers and face in the cold.

    Conditions were glorious today visibility wise, total bluebird.  In the morning I still had to battle the sastrugi, the afternoon it cleared but there was an incline all afternoon.  Today is the first day I have skied in my Rab primaloft jacket - it was that cold today and because I was climbing uphill and tired, I couldn’t work hard enough to generate heat.  I had a headwind all afternoon, the cold wind coming down the slope as you climb straight in your face is just another cruel twist of nature!

    I skied for 9 hours and 20 minutes, a slightly shorter day.  With the headwind and the climbing I was totally shattered again but I skied 32.2km/20 miles/17.38 nautical miles.  I am now at 1,627m/5,337ft.

    I’m eating my lamb and potatoes, which is lush.  It’s cold tonight again.  Honestly I am not sure what the temperature is exactly.  I get the feeling it has dropped comfortably below –20c.  In my experience -20c is my threshold and below my threshold, about -28c to -32c is when it begins to get more challenging to manage, I feel like it has dropped below -20c significantly.

    Physically it’s getting tough now and it’s very much the business end of the expedition when slight hiccups, food, calculations, all the tiny factors come in to play and play on my mind now - have I got all my calculations right? enough food, fuel, etc.  I am still within my safety margins but during the 10 hours skiing a day your mind does wonder.  I’m starting to feel like every day has got to count.

    Although physically it’s getting tough and my morale has wobbled a little, it’s still high.  I am still smiling over here and every day I am a step closer to the Pole.

    This will make you laugh I am sure, although I could have cried for hours…Today I spilt my Jelly Bellies in the snow.  I saved my 2 Jelly Bellies for the end of the day because they are like heaven, my treat at the end of a long day skiing.  It sounds really irrational but I had to stop myself from crying when I dropped both of them in the snow, I was so tired.  But I managed to save them and pick them up eating them one by one off the snow!

    Today’s hashtag - #tootiredtohashtag

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 24 - 10th January 2013 - Thursday 10th Jan 2013

    Good day but tired. Skied 32.5k/20 miles. Great conditions except for a cold headwind - just a lot of up! At 1,764m. Blog 2moro #neednewlegs

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 26 - 12th January 2013 - Saturday 12th Jan 2013

    Morning guys.  It’s been a tough couple of days but rewarding.  Thursday I woke up and changed my clothing system a little as it’s starting to get significantly colder and I wore my Rab Strata Jacket.  It’s a new windproof insulated jacket that Rab have asked me to test out here. I’m not sure if it’s in the shops yet or due to be in the shops, but it is absolutely amazing!  It’s close to being my favourite item other than my Vapour-rise Lite – which I have had on every day as a base layer or a single later which has also been amazing.  I used the Vapour-rise throughout my 737 Challenge, I love it, but my Strata jacket is awesome.  It’s designed to have active insulation so you have insulation when you are performing, it was like somehow I never overheated but I never got cold.  I don’t know how the fairies at Rab have designed it or made it but it is just awesome.

    So Thursday was really cold but amazing under foot.  In the morning I had my first tab of 2 hours skiing out of the sastrugi and then hit a little bit of a plateau and things were good under foot towards the end of the day.  The sastrugi is not epically big or maybe it’s just that I have no reference on this journey to compare to, but I know what is big and what isn’t, it’s consistent really and very dense which has made it difficult, but I got through that in the morning and then I had a good 4 hours making some good km at end of day.  I hit a bit of a headwind as I hit an incline.  Pitching the tent on my own in the wind is challenging but that’s why I went through so many tent tests in the build up to this to get this right.

    I skied for 9½ hours and covered 32.5km/20 miles/17.54 nautical miles.

    My hashtag for Thursday was #neednewlegs


    I had a really cold night, which is ominous and it was cold in the tent when I woke up yesterday morning.  The light was really flat and I had no solar radiation warming the tent but I had breakfast, packed up and started skiing in my new clothing systems of my vapour-rise layer and Strata jacket on top.  I started skiing the first 2 hours and light was really flat.  When it is like that it is really challenging as you can’t see the undulations, can’t see shadows, can’t see your feet and have no idea what your ski’s are doing but I’m at the point in the expedition where I can’t stop now, I simply haven’t got the luxury to rest.

    After 2 hours, flat light turned to a complete whiteout.  I lost the horizon, lost everything, but the conditions under foot were really good.  I climbed then it flattened out a bit, I climbed, then it flattened out a bit and so on.

    Although it was a whiteout and I couldn’t see a thing, I had my GPS strapped to my chest harness so I just grit my teeth and carried on.  My systems are really good, my glove systems are good, my face mask etc, I said to myself as long as I feel comfortable temperature wise and safety wise, I am just gonna keep skiing.

    I basically skied all day in a white box!  It went from flat light to whiteout constantly.  It was a real hit to the senses not being about to see anything for such a long period, at times I was feeling a little bit wobbly, at other times I was thinking I had skied for 2km and then when I looked at my GPS I had only done 300m and then other times I thought I had done only a few metres and I had actually done 3km.

    I skied for 10 hours yesterday as I wanted to keep the k’s up and keep momentum.  I skied 32.2km/20 miles/17.38 nautical miles.

    Pitching the tent last night was windy.  Yesterday I started with a headwind, then I had a tailwind, and don’t worry I am still skiing in the right direction - I’m still skiing south!  The tent I have is a tunnel tent so there is quite a specific way to pitch the tent and as I pitched last night it was still a complete whiteout, it was hard to even find a place to pitch as I couldn’t even see what bit was flat.

    By the time I got in it was freezing cold, I made a hot water bottle out of my nalgene and had spaghetti bolognese in my bag...and it was bloody heaven!  As soon as I ate my meal and melted my water I passed out in my bag.  Although yesterday was one of the toughest days it was one of the most rewarding days, it was the best feeling last night.

    I feel like it was one of the most significant days of my whole expedition.   Had I sat that out, I would have been under a lot of pressure.  It felt like all the minutes I have spent designing my kit with Rab, my food with Fuizion, adapting my MSR stove, all the things I have done to make things more efficient, all the training I have done, all the messages of support -  everything came in to play yesterday to enable me to do 32km in poor conditions.  Yesterday was definitely the best day of the expedition so far.

    My hashtag for yesterday is #satisfactionisproportionaltoeffort

    I woke up in the middle of the night last night really hot! The tent is really warm this morning, I haven’t looked out yet but I know that the sun is out and conditions are good so I am back to sitting in the tent in just my pants eating breakfast!  This morning I have scrambled egg, bacon and mushrooms and coffee as always.

    I don’t normally do morning hashtags but today is #smileandyougofaster

    Another milestone - I filled up my expedition log sheet I am officially on my second logsheet!  Altitude wise I am currently at 1,873m. Yesterday I crossed the 86 degree line of latitude and I am hoping tomorrow I will get in to 87 degrees.

    Have a good day guys!  Rich.

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 762.72km/473miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 215.45

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 27 - 13th January 2013 - Sunday 13th Jan 2013

    Tough going again yesterday.  Especially after the day before.  I was still a bit frazzled from Friday.  I woke up to glorious conditions, no wind, bluebird sky and the first hour getting the heavy legs out of me was just awesome.  It took me about an hour to get in to it.  I always knew I was going to start climbing yesterday and all the epic sastrugi that everyone was talking about - I’d hoped I had navigated around it.  Oh no - there she was!  It was like a scene from a movie, some prehistoric landscape, I guess it is really.  I’ve encountered denser sastrugi but these were just absolutely massive.   You can’t ski over them they were about a metre and a half tall, some bigger than me so I had to ski around them.

    I spent around 5 hours going through the sastrugi zone, pretty much most of the day yesterday and all the time climbing.  I said in my blog the other day that climbing in to a headwind is like a cruel twist of nature, she might have topped this off now with sastrugi and climbing.

    Mentally I was prepared for it though; I got in to my stride and just ground it out, one step at a time.  I kept repeating the mantra in my head over and over again every day stronger, every day closer.

    I had a day of food thoughts yesterday, all I could think about was meals I have had, meals I am planning or meals I want to cook myself when I get home.

    It was pretty much 9 hours of solitary thinking about food and meals I want to cook!  I have tried to control my thoughts and be disciplined about this but in the end I just gave up and let my mind go with it, it didn’t seem to effect me too much and then the food bag I pulled out last night for dinner was one of my favourites; chilli con carne and chocolate and orange rice pudding.  I don’t rehydrate the rice pudding, I eat it dry, it’s really nice dry.

    The last hour of yesterday the wind picked up which it seems to do each day so it was a real godsend to get in to the tent, relax and try and switch off.  It wasn’t my longest and toughest day but once again it was really rewarding, as it was another big chunk of difficult terrain crossed.

    I skied for 9 hours and covered 28.1km/17 miles/15.16 nautical miles.

    I am at 1,962m/6,437ft in altitude.  It’s hard to say if the altitude is affecting me, it’s probably just fatigue rather than the altitude but I am certainly taking a little longer to get going in the mornings and the legs are feeling heavier.  It is going to start to play a factor but I perform pretty well at altitude so I am feeling confident.  Over the next few days I still have got to climb to about 2,800m/9,186ft and then I have to navigate a heavy crevasse zone just as the glacier rolls off.

    Today I am hoping for some more Roy Noble inspiration.  Every time I speak to him on BBC Radio Wales I seem to have a good day.  Today in my mind is a milestone day as it’s the day I plan to cross the 87th degree and if all things go to plan, it’ll mean that tomorrow I will be in single figures remaining and have 9 days left of the expedition so today is definitely a bit of a milestone in my mind.

    Blister update: My blisters have almost healed.  They were maybe the size of 50p pieces on my heels.  After dressing them with some jelly stuff that Doc Martin (ALE’s doctor) gave me at Union Glacier Base Camp they have virtually healed.  He helped me tweak my first aid kit before I set off to make it lighter and only take what I need.  I was really grateful to him for spending some time with me to do this.  He gave me this jelly stuff to put on them, I took it off my blisters 2 days ago and now I don’t have any dressing on my heels.  They are in really good shape.  If I had enough of that jelly stuff I would stick it all over my body as well!

    Today’s hashtags are #everydaystronger #everydaycloser

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 790.82km/491miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 224.45

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 28 - 14th January 2013 - AM - Monday 14th Jan 2013


    Yesterday was fu***ng savage.  Climbing, sastrugi and a headwind.  Was a brutal day.  I felt like I was wrestling with my pulk, with my mind, with my body, every metre of the 27.1km/16 miles I did yesterday.

    It was really cold in the morning; I was constantly managing my fingers and toes to keep the blood flow.  I was working as hard as I could but I couldn’t generate enough heat, the longest stretch I skied continuously was half hour.  In between I was stopping and pulling my pulk over or through sastrugi.  I had a couple of falls yesterday as well but I am fine.  I was more worried about my skis and equipment but they are fine too.  I skied for 9½ hours but I was actually out for over 11 hours.  My GPS tells me time moving and time I’ve been out.

    Legs are feeling heavy, just been stretching them and now I am gonna get going today.

    A positive that came out of yesterday was that I crossed the 87th degree and despite being totally shattered I was really satisfied last night.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 28 - 14th January 2013 - PM - Monday 14th Jan 2013


    Hi guys.  To put it bluntly I had a nightmare day today, it’s been a rubbish day.  Yesterday was disappointing so this morning I was all revved up ready to go.   I went out early, it was cold but conditions were good so the first 4 hours I made good progress and my legs didn’t feel too bad.

    Then I hit sastrugi, which was so big, I was skiing down them.  I had a fall, which is common but today it just rocked me, everything just wobbled.  Then the wind picked up and it was so cold.  I was constantly fighting my hands and my toes and was constantly fighting to gain inches.

    I battled on for an hour but I thought the safest thing to do was to pitch the tent and I have been sat here for 3 hours.  I just wanted to get beamed out of here, being on my own in these conditions is just horrible.

    Physically I felt really good but I just got so cold.  Altitude wise, I’m at 2,270m/7,447ft.  It is possible that altitude is why I’m feeling cold as my body adjusts but it’s the wind - it’s biting cold.  I skied uphill for 5 hours and the wind is just ripping down the slope in to you and it’s bitterly cold.

    I skied for 5 hours and covered 17.2km/10 miles/9.29 nautical miles.

    I have chicken dhansak for dinner followed by rice pudding with fruit, plus Oreo for moral with my hot chocolate.

    I burnt my hat today as well, that is my only comedy value of this blog, 28 days in and it’s the first thing I have burned which is good going with my track record, don’t worry I have a spare!

    Today’s hashtag:  #beammeupscotty

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 835.12km/518miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 238.95.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 30 - 16th January 2013 - Wednesday 16th Jan 2013

    Yesterday was another tough day, really slow progress.  I was wrestling and fighting for every metre.  The sastrugi conditions are as horrific as early reports have suggested.  It’s really demorolising, especially when I have been making some great progress for most of the expedition.

    I am always climbing until I get to the plateau so I have another 40-60km of altitude climbing.  I have been speaking with Steve Jones from ALE, after all the reports of massive sastrugi this season he has flown over the area and looked at it in detail, this year the sastrugi is abnormally big and heavy and it goes pretty much to 88.30 degrees so I had the news broken to me last night after probably my toughest day that I have another 100km of this ahead of me.

    Knowing Steve well meant that he did make me smile, he’s a good man to break tough news!

    I skied for 9 hours yesterday and covered 19.89km/12 miles.  Altitude wise I am at 2,370m/7,775ft.

    On top of the sastrugi under foot, yesterday and it seems like every day I am battling a cold head/side wind, which makes everything difficult.  Staying warm is challenging, it’s especially tough during breaks and having a pee, then there’s spindrift rattling past me on the floor.

    Navigating is also challenging, it’s difficult to hold a bearing because you are constantly looking at the terrain in front of you when you are climbing sastrugi, I am having to micro navigate in short legs which again makes progress slow.

    All I can do is just inch my way through them and hope that my progress stays within my food supply.  After making such good progress and feeling so confident, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a blow.

    I don’t want to seem all doom and gloom, I still feel very privileged and grateful to have the opportunity to undertake such a significant expedition on a continent which is very dear to me, it’s just bloody tough.

    On a lighter note I had an outsider rocket in to my top 3 meals.  Before last night my top 3 meals were 1/Chicken Dansak 2/Minced Lamb and 3/Beef and Ale stew but last night I had Chicken vegetables with rice, which was amazing.  Sounds simple and it is, but the quality of the Fuizion ingredients, good quality chicken breast and good quality vegetables was a simple but warming meal last night.  Can you have 7 joint winners in a top 3 competition?!

    Deserts are easier as I only chose a variety of 3 to bring but I love them all. 1/Rice Pudding with cinnamon and fruit is my favourite 2/Chocolate & Orange Rice Pudding – both are rich in calories and 3: Luxurious fresh fruit salad.  It still blows my mind that I can be eating fresh fruit in a place like this.

    I am just drinking my coffee and eating my kedgeree breakfast before I face packing my gear away in the wind.  My tent is rattling, getting going in the mornings is getting increasingly hard.

    Have a top day guys and thank you so much for all your messages of support.

    Hashtags for today are #sastrugisuck  #everystepcloser #dontletthebast*rdsgetyoudown

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 855.01km/531miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 247.95.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 31 - 17th January 2013 - Thursday 17th Jan 2013

    After posting my blog yesterday the wind dropped which was a real relief so packing the tent was comfortable which was nice as it’s getting harder and harder to get going in the mornings.  Conditions were glorious, total bluebird, winds were light but I am still fighting for every metre.It’s just really demoralising because of the sastrugi.  It’s just so constant, sometimes they are big and I have to ski up and down them, sometimes I ski around them.  My course is almost perpendicular to them now, even the little ones are challenging, and constantly pulling my pulk through them is savage.  I can’t remember the last time I had any glide in my skis.  However, one of my new year’s resolutions is to be grateful for the little things, and I was grateful for awesome conditions so I skied for 9½ hours and covered 23.8km/14 miles.

    By my own standards this was a good day and last night I should have got in the tent really proud and satisfied but my morale is generally low.  I get in to the tent and all I can see is another 100km of sh*t.  I know this is not the way I should be thinking.  I have nobody to bounce off which is really tough, on a normal expedition someone will pick you up, on your own it’s easy for some things to spiral...but getting in to my bag cheered me up.  I had spag bol for dinner and getting in my bag last night eating this was a real treat, my legs needed it too, they are pretty tired.

    I have had to look at my food rations.  I was on course to be on double meals but now after the last few days making less progress than I would have liked I have taken the decision to ration food.  So I got all my food bags in last night and made up 2 extra days worth of food.  I opened up packets of food taking spoonfuls to make new meals, luckily I had enough similar meals to be able to do this and I chopped flapjacks up to make an extra couple of bars.

    When I finish a meal I normally use the empty containers as pee pots, so I have had to use bags that I have peed in.  Luckily I am pretty hydrated so it’s not too offensive!

    Including today, this gives me 8 more days to reach the Pole, which at this rate is still cutting it fine but it is what it is.

    I am at 2,450m/8,038ft.  From my understanding, I am hoping today is one of the last days of big climbing which is another milestone.  Yesterday was also another milestone; although I am still in crevasse territory I am around the west safety marker for the crevasses.  Although there are some around me and ahead of me I am past the closest ones to my route.

    This morning it did feel like somebody had kicked me in the balls when I looked outside the tent and it is a complete whiteout.  It’ll be me in my white box again today but the way I am feeling, a white padded room is probably the safest thing for me right now!

    Once again guys, thanks for the support and for all your messages on Twitter and Facebook, I really appreciate it.


    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 878.81km/546 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 257.45.


  • Antarctica Blog - Day 32 - 18th January 2013 - Friday 18th Jan 2013

    Yesterday was another ironic day, a cruel twist from the mistress that is Antarctica but what started a really poor day turned out to be quite a positive day and my morale is much higher this morning I am feeling a lot more positive.

    Yesterday started out with poor conditions, by the time I had packed away it was a complete whiteout, making the start of my day impossible to navigate, impossible to see the terrain.  I battled through it for an hour and I wasn’t making any progress, I felt like I wanted to cry so after an hour of skiing I pitched my tent, got in to it, feeling really sad and went to sleep as it was the only way to escape the situation.

    I set my alarm for every hour so I could see if conditions had improved, by the time it had improved it was about 2pm.  It took every singe ounce of willpower I had not to eat any of my day food rations (remember last time I had that gorge out!) I needed to save all my food in case I got going and then for the first time at 2pm I could see a horizon.

    It took energy, willpower and mental strength to get going again.  By the time I got going and had packed up it was about 3pm and by then it was completely clear.  For the rest of the day the weather and conditions were great and I had an absolutely glorious day.

    After about an hour of skiing the sastrugi eased a little bit and it was really good, the best conditions I have had for a few days and the first time in quite a few days I was able to ski in a straight line.

    I skied on until later making up for the lost time; I missed my sked call and skied to 10pm.  In total yesterday (1 and 6 hours) I skied for 7 hours and covered 20.43km/12 miles/11.03 nautical miles.

    Although my mileage is still lower than previously and it wasn’t a great distance haul yesterday I just felt really good about how it was achieved and what it took to get there.  Although I was shattered last night I woke up feeling far more positive and happy today.

    Also when I pitched the tent yesterday I decided to redistribute the weight in my pulk and reorganise.  Even if it is psychological, it made a little difference yesterday as well.

    I know I am sounding really fickle but last night I had Beef Bourguignon for dinner, real chunks of beef, it could be my new number 1, it was amazing.

    On the breakfast front the clear winner is Granola and nuts, which I eat most of dry before I even boil my water, then there is porridge and fruit, then muesli, then Kedgeree, but they are all winners in my eyes!

    It’s a bit windy today but conditions look pretty good.  My target for today is to get as close to the 88th degree as possible, which is still about 27/28km away.  I am still climbing and am at around 2,500m/8,202ft.

    I am still using my new Rab Strata jacket, which is proving to be awesome.  I was working quite hard yesterday, it has insulation in specific places, the zones where it is designed to not be insulated and vent had some frost on the outside of those particular patches proving it’s working.  I know you guys have some snow back home and weirdly it was snowing here yesterday which is quite unusual.

    Thanks for all your messages, each and everyone gives me the kick up the ar*e that I need at the right time.  I don’t want to single any messages out as each and every one is awesome, but I had a message from Harriet who owns the New York Deli in Cardiff and it was ironic because I had a dream about a meatball grinder and I felt like I was cheating on my own family!  I felt like I was cheating on the Richie Parks Special!

    Also my mate Junker reminded me that I have to pull my finger out otherwise I’ll miss the start of the 6 nations and I want to get back and see the boys take on Ireland.

    Today’s hashtag: #believe

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 899.24km/558 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 264.45.

    Note: The Richie Parks Special is a sandwich named after Richard Parks.  The sandwich is the official charity sandwich of Cardiff’s famous New York Deli and consists of hot Salt Beef, melted Swiss cheese, sweet Gherkin and French Mustard on toasted Rye bread.

    Note: The distribution of precipitation over Antarctica is very marked, with several metres of snow falling each year near the coast but the interior only getting an annual snowfall of a few centimetres, thus officially making much of the continent a desert.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 34 - 20th January 2013 - Sunday 20th Jan 2013


    On Friday conditions were very very cold with a strong headwind.  I fell on the sastrugi and twisted my knee a little so it halted my progress and I had to pitch my tent and call it a day.

    My knee is sore, it slowed me down a bit yesterday bit it’s nothing too major, it’s just another twist in the tale really, another hurdle.

    Friday was the lowest day of the expedition, I was in my tent feeling really demoralised, really low, cold, lonely, the darkest day of the expedition so far.  All I could do is get some food in to me, get in to my sleeping bag, go to sleep and hope that the next day is better.

    I skied for 4 hours and covered 10.72km/6 miles and finished the day at 2,540m/8,333ft.

    Even though the 18th was my worst day km wise, skiing 10-14km during the 87th degree might be poor by my own standard but I am still making good progress.  I am not exaggerating when I say it’s the worst conditions they have had in the last 6 years and possibly the worst ever, so it gives me a little bit of confidence.  The sastrugi is just horrific and on top of that the cold, high winds really add to it.  It’s hard skiing in to the headwind.

    I woke up yesterday with around 15k left to get in to the 88th degree and it was my goal to make it there.  Yesterday the hits kept coming despite me feeling positive.  It ended up being worse than the day before and I ended up skiing in a blizzard.  It was very cold, high strong winds, was blowing all sorts of spindrift, it was brutal.  It was like every stereotypical movie of every film of Antarctica.

    The only good thing is that the weather was so sh*t that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about my knee.

    I skied for 7 hours and covered just under 15k.  I just snuck in to the 88th degree…a moral victory.  I pitched the tent tired, dishevelled but feeling like I had sealed a small victory in this battle.

    I am at 2,617m/8,585ft.

    Last night I had to make a tough decision.  My initial target was to complete the expedition between 35-40 days.  The honest truth is that I was aiming for more 35 than 40 and with the delay in starting the expedition I made a decision to go faster and lighter hence the distances I was covering during the early part of the expedition.  If conditions had been a little different I am confident I could have done it in or around 35 days but the conditions have dictated a different end to the story.

    With food running low I made the decision to get a food drop, which I should get tomorrow or Tuesday.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I have learnt from some of the best out there, am very humble and respectful of the environment I am in, so there is sincerely no ego involved in this decision.  Obviously my target was 35 miles unsupported and unassisted but the reality is I have to get there safely and get home to my friends and family.

    I’m still going to be very proud of the expedition, I am still going to finish in a good time and am still very proud to be the first welsh person to ski solo to the South Pole and I mustn’t lose sight that this expedition is an R&D and training expedition and from that point of view it’s been a huge success.

    I feel proud and confident that I have made the right decision, as safety is paramount.

    My estimated arrival keeps getting bumped back a little because of the conditions, I have another 2/3 tough days ahead and then conditions should become a bit more favourable and hopefully then I can cover similar distances to the early part of the expedition.  It’s hard to put a date on it but the last flight back to Union Glacier is the 28th January so I have to get to the Pole by then to make the flight off the Pole!

    Thank you everyone as always for all your amazing support.



  • Antarctica Blog - Day 35 - 21st January 2013 - Monday 21st Jan 2013

    Hi Guys.  I am just sat in my tent sitting out some bad weather conditions.  Yesterday morning after I spoke to Roy Noble on the radio and blogged weather conditions were bad with completely flat light so I decided to sit it out for a few hours and wait for it to clear before I set off for the day.

    That couple of hours turned in to a whole day and whilst I sat in my tent waiting I had waves of different emotions going through me.

    Having made the difficult decision to organise a food drop, with that pressure off me I decided to have a couple of extra meals and rest up.  I was really grateful to give my body a chance to rest, as physically I am pretty tired over here.  That feeling would then turn in to despair and frustration of not being able to move but on the whole the day was used productively.  I waited for it to clear which it finally did about 11pm at night local time (Chilean time) and just as the rest of the world was tucking up and going to bed I was packing my tent up and getting into it.

    I started skiing and immediately felt the benefit of a rest day, I felt really good, positive and strong and the weather broke for me in glorious fashion.  I was privileged to see a rare and special natural phenomenon, which only occurs in the Arctic and Antarctic where the ice crystals in the air reflect the sun’s light in such a away that it creates a rainbow around the sun horizontally and vertically, it is absolutely beautiful.

    With some extra energy in my legs and extra rice pudding in my belly I made some really good progress back up to my standard from earlier in the expedition, however the conditions were short lived and I only got 4½ hours of conditions that I could actually navigate in.  I covered 14.08km/8 miles.

    So reluctantly and feeling gutted I had to quickly pitch my tent in very poor light, once again the light was so flat with no contrast that it was difficult again to pick a suitable spot between the sastrugi to pitch the tent.  It was really disappointing.

    By the time I pitched it was about 5.30am in the morning but as per my new year’s resolutions, I took satisfaction and joy for at least moving and got in to my bag, my sanctuary and hoped for a better day today and a food drop.

    However once again Mistress Antarctica is making it difficult for me because I have been sat in my tent all day today unable to move.  To explain what I mean by bad conditions and flat light, in conditions like this where the light is completely flat you cannot see a horizon.  There is no contrast at all, you cannot see shadows and therefore it is impossible to move safely and accurately.

    Today’s delay has been a bit more difficult for me to deal with than yesterday.  Once again the fluctuation in morale has been caused by the conditions which are now also making the food drop impossible and the forecast is suggesting that it might be a couple of days yet.  All this combined with my dwindling food rations and the more significant factor that the last flight of the season off the pole is on the 28th January is making me feel anxious.

    Once again I am taking the opportunity to rest and prepare to move as soon as the conditions improve.

    It’s been a tough week now but this is the nature of performing in extreme environments.  My focus is to make the right decisions at that right times no matter how frustrating they are to me.

    Thank you for all your messages of support, I just got sent loads of them to my phone from my team today and they sincerely and genuinely make a huge difference out here.  I hear you guys are having a tough time of it too weather wise!

    Speak soon guys, Rich.


    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 938.41km/583 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 279.95.

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 36 - 22nd January 2013 - Tuesday 22nd Jan 2013

    6.30pm GMT/3.30pm local time

    The last few days have felt like they have been genuinely the darkest, difficult and challenging days I have experienced.  I feel like I have been tested physically, mentally and emotionally to the limit.

    It has been so demoralising and frustrating to have got so close and be hit by horrific weather conditions.

    The sastrugi conditions have been the same for everyone, its just one of those things I have had to deal with.  It’s completely changed the expedition but had the weather been more favourable I still would have been able to get through them, all be it slowly but with this and the bad weather on top it has been a massive kick in the nuts.

    I have virtually had 3 static days now unable to make any major progress and it has just been so difficult.  Because of the conditions it has been bitterly cold and I know this is Antarctica but a combination of my extremely low body fat, fatigue, altitude...I have never experienced cold like it.

    When I made the decision to organise a food drop, which I know was the right decision, it was planned for yesterday and it significantly lifted my spirits.  On that day naively and foolishly I ate 2 days worth of meals, which I guess I needed but in hindsight was naïve.  That night when I skied, although I only skied for 4 hours was I was moving at speeds similar to earlier in the expedition so it gave me an insight in to quite where by body was at, however conditions have deteriorated and yesterday the ALE crew were unable to do a food drop.  Firstly the aircrew were unable to fly and secondly because I was unable to move to make progress, the aircrew can’t land because of the sastrugi that I am currently in so yesterdays food drop was abandoned.

    All this combined with being sat in a tent are playing havoc on my emotions and it’s generally a difficult time.  I remember a fitness coach from about 10 years ago called Rittaz at Ponty who gave me my first insight in to deprivation training.  Since then I have expanded this and deprivation is the cornerstone to my training but I remember him saying that for every cup of coffee or tea he had he would put two biscuits on the plate next to it and only eat one of them and yesterday having only 1½ days food left, not knowing if food is coming and feeling so hungry it was so difficult not to have more to eat.  It took all the willpower I have and I had half rations yesterday for safety.  Having been working close to my physical limit and with little body fat left, I am genuinely shattered at the moment.

    Last night I am not ashamed to say that I made my first truly bad decision of the expedition.  At about 10pm I decided to try and ski in marginal conditions.  The wind is mild, it’s extremely cold, the visibility I have had lately is poor.  There is little or no horizon, very little or no contrast on the snow, so no shadows and you have no idea what’s in front of you or what’s underneath you and it’s very difficult to navigate as you have nothing to visualise or have a bearing on and it’s too cold to use the GPS.  So last night I wasted energy, I packed the tent up, moved for 1 km and had to re pitch the tent, it was the wrong decision and one made out of frustration and bit if desperation.

    Last night in my bag I couldn’t even escape my mind, I didn’t sleep that well, all kinds of thoughts were going through my head but there is always a new day and today my situation has significantly improved.

    The cloud has cleared a little to 40-50% cloud cover, I can see a horizon for 360 degrees and the sun’s disc is clearly visible which has given me some much needed solar warmth and taken the edge off the cold.  All this combined with a really positive phone call with Steve Jones, the operations manager at ALE, who has become a good friend, has perked me up.

    The weather at Union Glacier Base Camp is good today but it’s deteriorating over the next few days there, so the pilots are prepared to fly today and although they are unable to land in my terrain we have organised an airdrop of food this afternoon.  The ALE team have been absolutely incredible.  The company as a whole has an incredible ethos, however the team have been so supportive and I know that a lot of people have gone to a lot of effort to support me since day 1 and my lost luggage.

    If and when this happens today it will be a huge boost.  It is important to stay stationery for the food drop which means another stationery day with no km’s covered but means resting, fuelling and getting my head right for what can only be described as an epic finish to the expedition to get to the pole for the 28th. My food drop means I haven’t lost my solo status but I have lost the unassisted and unsupported status.

    I have composed myself now and once again focusing on what I can control and that is taking today to rest, eat when I get the food and start afresh tomorrow.  Skiing in the night hasn’t helped; it’s disorientated me a bit, so tomorrow I am going to go back to my original system.

    I am in constant communication with my parents, girlfriend and project manager which has been massive and all the messages and support I have had from friends, followers on Twitter and Facebook has been incredible and sincerely kept me going over here so thank you guys, so much.  Back to one day at a time and having faith that all the pieces will add up.



  • Antarctica Blog - Day 36 - 22nd January 2013 - Tuesday 22nd Jan 2013

    9.30pm GMT/6.30pm local time

    I am a happy man guys!  Got the food! The pilots managed to land about a kilometre away, I actually spoke with humans which was pretty awesome!

    Just got back in the tent and I am sorting my food out and all the ALE staff have written cute notes and put them on everything, it is so lush.  The pilots gave me a can of coke as well, so I am about to have a can of coke in my tent, I am so excited!

    Just hearing the twin otter and then seeing it come over the horizon was such a an amazing feeling.

    I've just smashed a box of Pringles (well they are the Chilean version Crispos) in to me!  Nancy the ALE stores manager asked in passing what I am I craving the most and I said crisps, so she has put a whole box in and I have just smashed them in to me!

    The ALE guys have put notes on food like: “No stopping til the South Pole!” “Crispos make sastrugi disappear!” and stuff like that, it is so awesome!

    All the friends I have made last time and this year at Union Glacier have just been so amazing.  Also, I haven’t opened it yet but the chef has given me a proper frozen meal which I am about to eat with the coke from the pilots.

    I feel like a new man.  I don’t want to get too emotional on you but I have spent the best part of a year planning this expedition and I put a lot of time and thought into my operating systems and preparation.  I am so grateful that I still have the opportunity to get to the South Pole because I have put a lot in to this.  A lot of people have devoted a lot of time, support and energy and I have invested all of my own money in to this, so having the opportunity to continue is significant.  Obviously there’s a part of me that is disappointed that I didn’t do it within my 35 day target and that my solo expedition loses it’s unsupported status but that’s the nature of working in extreme conditions; you can only control what you can control.  I am just grateful for all the guys help at ALE and to have the opportunity to finish it.

    I have got 6 big days ahead of me to cover the best part of 2 degrees, which is approx 220km so I am going to feed up tonight, sleep gratefully and happily and get up early tomorrow have a big day and hopefully I can share some big numbers with you tomorrow tonight.

    Forgive me if it sounds like I am going on but my overriding feeling is gratitude.  I know that some day soon I will be able to look back at the last week stuck in the 87th degree sastrugi twilight zone and laugh about it.

    I still feel very privileged to be able to ski from the coast of the Antarctica solo, all be it having been supported with a food drop now.  It’s still an incredible honour and a privilege to undertake this journey and I am very grateful for all the support of ALE, my sponsors, my friends, my family and all my followers and supporters for helping me achieve this.


  • Antarctica Blog - Day 37 - 23rd January 2013 - Wednesday 23rd Jan 2013

    Hi guys.  My food fest was awesome last night.  I had coke, pizza, my Fuizion deserts, crisps, treats, it was great.  I spent quite a while sorting my food bags out for the rest of the expedition and tonight I have eaten the last of my awesome Fuizion meals, have had Beef Bourguignon for dinner.

    It made such a difference to my morale knowing I was able to continue.  I went to sleep last night a grateful and happy man and tried to stay positive about good conditions for today.

    I woke up nice and early today and set off early.  I was really happy and lucky because conditions were almost perfect today.  The sastrugi was still pretty dense and by all accounts will continue to be for about another 20-30km but I could see the horizon and visibility was good.

    I skied for 10 hrs, 15 mins and covered miles and I am at an altitude of 2,708m/8,884ft.

    Today was a tough day as I was constantly having to be on it, the pace I am going is testing the limit that I can operate at but it was great to get some momentum back in this expedition and get the show back on the road.  I was committed to making the most of the conditions.

    Physically I have certainly improved from the 87th degree twilight zone - the rest has done me the world of good but physically I am still operating at a depleted state.  I am still bolloc*sed!  It’s just a case now of grinding every metre out and hoping that it all adds up to getting there in time for the plane.

    I’ve got bones sticking out of me I didn’t even know existed.  I have lost so much weight that even my boots are baggy, I’ve even lost weight off my feet.

    On a positive note it’s been a tough week and a dark period of the expedition so to have come through the other side is an awesome feeling.  As difficult as today was I am in my sleeping bag now drinking hot chocolate feeling really satisfied after a good days work and am grateful that I am out the other side and out the other end of it.

    As it’s all been a bit doom and gloom the last few days, here’s some lighter news: I just love my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season mat so much!  It’s warm and super light.  I don’t pack my sleeping system away, I don’t have to pack my sleeping bag or deflate and pack my mat away and it’s just dawned on me tonight that I haven’t had to reinflate my mat once in 37 days.  It has performed brilliantly, as have my Z Lite foam mats, which aren’t for everyone with the dimples but the dimples have minimised spillages.  My mats have been awesome!

    Speak tomorrow guys!


    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 970.31km/602 miles.  

  • Antarctica Blog - Day 39 - 25th January 2013 - Friday 25th Jan 2013

    Hi Guys.  Well my hashtag “back in the game” was short lived.  I skied for 3 hours yesterday covering 4.27km.  My 30km day on Wednesday, which seemed really promising for everyone including myself, was considerably tougher than any other 30km day I had done on the expedition so far.  The last week has really taken it out of me and during that 30km day I was operating at a level that was pushing the boundaries of safety in this environment in order to achieve that.

    This environment is unforgiving and hostile, one of the most hostile on the planet and being able to operate but make clear decisions at the same time, especially on a solo expedition is non-negotiable.

    Wednesday night in my tent I was looking at my map and the numbers, my heart began to sink with the reality of the situation.  I didn’t sleep a wink, partly because my body clock is disoriented as I have been skiing through the night and because of the 24 hour sunlight but mostly I was playing through every scenario possible of if I could get to the South Pole by the 28th and just to be clear, that it’s the end of the day on the 27th that I have to be there by.

    The most obvious option would be to ditch the 24 hour operating system I have been running and adopt the same principle as I did on Denali and just ski, eat, ski eat continuously using the 24 hour sunlight or the other option to try and get two big days in on a 24 hour push at the end…but I kept coming back to my last 30km day on Wednesday and at what cost that would be.  After 39 days and having been operating a very very tight system with no injuries, that particular 30km day and working at that level and pushing that hard, it affected my judgment.  I was working so hard and I took my facemask off to get more breath in as it clogged up and I have cold damage to my nose now.

    In an environment as unforgiving is this, in my opinion, safety is non negotiable.

    This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make being so close, having progressed so well and having invested so much in to this, however expeditions are difficult things and in life we all have to make difficult decisions.  I have made this decision with all the facts on the table with a clear head and clear heart and I am really sorry to tell you guys that quite simply I have run out of time over here.

    I have been starving myself close to 40 days now, that is the nature of it as you can’t consume more calories than you burn, it’s the fine line you run but I am skin and bones over here.  I am the weakest and lightest I have ever been.  The last week has really battered me basically.

    I was in a good system and place until I hit the epic sastrugi.  Everyone else has had to go through this just the same as me, there are no excuses but I had to fight for every metre in horrific weather conditions as well as this and it absolutely battered me.  The last few days my body has taken a significant turn for the worse.  My mouth is full of ulcers and even though I have had fantastic food from Fuizion and have taken my daily vitamin and mineral supplements which are also in my daily food bag, my body is run down to a point where I have not been before.  And to pick my first cold injury as result of mental and physical fatigue is an alarm bell that I am not going to ignore.  I physically and safely cannot cover 200km in 3 days.  I simply have run out of time.

    Although I am gutted I am at peace because I know I have done everything I can in my control and it is the right decision.

    During my keynote presentations that I do, I refer to how we can’t always control the cards that life deals us with – had I not lost the extra week losing my luggage, had sastrugi conditions in the 87th degree twilight zone not been the worst many experienced people have ever seen, on top of that had I not been hit by horrific weather conditions in the same period and with my big distance hauls for ¾ of the expedition - today I could have been having a beer celebrating possibly the 2nd fastest solo coast to pole expedition of all time and a new British record.  However, we can’t always control the cards that life deals us with but we can control how we react.  I’ve done everything that I can with integrity and safety to give myself the best chance.  Simply, I have run out of time.

    Times like this I think of a poem that is powerful to me and that poem is If by Rudyard Kipling.  I’ll let you guys read it or discover it for yourselves if you want to.

    As with all expeditions there are many cogs in the machine and there are a few people that I would like to take the opportunity to thank.  The expedition sponsors; Rab, Limegreentangerine and Fuizion.  All the team at ALE, especially Steve Jones.  Anton Sports in Norway, Simon Lowe, Roger Mears and the team at Jagged Globe once again.  Andrew at Ace Feet in Motion, Sony UK, MSR and Jonny and my management team at Wasserman.  My exped manager Tracy, my girlfriend and my Mum and Dad who have all been rocks throughout the build up and the dark days of the expedition and finally to all of you guys for all your incredible support and messages throughout the project.

    The timescale involved in the expedition always meant that it was a very fast expedition.  If successful it would have been record breaking, however I have never lost sight of the fact that this is an R&D expedition to prepare for another bigger world first project next year and taking the emotion out of it, I have got 90% of everything I needed from this expedition and it has been a success.  The Parksy of a few years ago would have been very black and white about this, but an older, wiser, Parksy has realised now that success isn’t black and white and there are many shades of grey in between.

    It’s been a privileged start to 2013, seeing in another New Year’s Day in Antarctica and as brutal as this expedition has been, we have had some incredible experiences and I say we referring to you all.  2013 is an exciting year ahead for us.  I have lots of exciting things to share with you guys in the pipeline when I can and I am feeling really amped about it.

    #noregrets #cantwaitforporcelain #gratitude

    Expedition total km/miles skied to date: 974.68km/605 miles.  

    Expedition hours spent skiing to date: 294.20.

  • Antarctica Blog - Back in Punta - 27th January 2013 - Sunday 27th Jan 2013

    On Friday I was picked up by twin otter plane on the ice.  There was a bit of liaising with the pilots to do and some discussion as to whether they could land at my location but on Friday conditions were good and they were able to land and pick me up.  Conditions on Friday were the warmest I had experienced for some time.  That week in the twilight zone as I have named it was one of the coldest experiences I have had, everything was really challenging, I knew it was cold but I didn’t know the exact ambient temperature but on Friday when the pilots collected me it was the best weather conditions I have had for a while and was the warmest I had felt for a while.  I was shocked when the pilot told me the ambient temperature was -27c, which means that for about a week it had probably been around or below -30c consistently.

    As we flew back to Union Glacier Base Camp, flying back over the ice for 4½ hours, it really blew my mind how far I had come in 39 days.  When you are on ice and on the sastrugi you have blinkers on, are just focused on shadows, navigation, and on one small goal at a time but flying over the expanse of white for so long put it in perspective about how far I had skied.

    When I landed back at Union Glacier and got off the plane, David Hamilton who led my Everest expedition during the 737 Challenge and has become a good friend was there and he literally had to usher me from the pane.  It was overwhelming seeing everyone who were all being so nice but I was just like a rabbit in the headlights.

    David literally held my hand, took me to the tent and fed me, the doc Lucy treated my nose, dressed it and then it just so happened the Iluyshin was flying that day off Antarctica back to Punta Arenas in Chile.  So within 5-6 hours of being on my own in the middle of nowhere I was on a plane back to Chile and within 10 hours I was in a hotel back in civilisation!   It was a massive culture shock, it wasn’t ideal, probably having a few days in Union Glacier would have been better to reset a little, in some ways it was good, in some ways it was bad.  That night it was hard to fall asleep.  It felt really strange, it was the first time I had seen darkness for around 40 days after being in 24-hour sunlight, at first it was hard to sleep but then eventually I did.

    I woke up, saw the doc, redressed my nose, got some medication, weighed myself and had a mini medical.  I then looked in the mirror for the first time at myself and it blew my mind.  I didn’t look like myself.  I have lost between 13 and 15kg – about 2½ stone.

    I unzipped my pulk but couldn’t face unpacking anything so I went in to town and it took me 2 hours to buy pants and socks, it was like everything was in slow motion.  Went back to bed and then a few of the guys came and got me to go out for something to eat with a few of the ALE crew which was good, as I probably would have just stayed in bed and not eaten.  I had some food, went back to bed, slept and woke up this morning feeling a little bit better today.  Spoke to Roy Noble on BBC Radio Wales and went back to sleep.  I feel like one of the snow globes that people shake. Physically I am so weak.  Mentally I am starting to get better but physically I feel weak.

    I am only just starting to sort my gear.  My pulk went straight from the ice to here.  I’ve still got all my stuff in it, including some poo.

    The first meal I had off the ice was on the twin otter plane – a ham and cheese sandwich!  It’s bizarre as I spent the best part of 40 days trying desperately hard not to think about food and what I wanted to eat and the reality of being here and eating of all the foods I wanted isn’t quite as wonderful as I thought it would be.  Eating a big meal is quite hard and I get a bit nauseous after eating as my body is still getting used to it.

    The expedition opened and closed many doors in my mind which needed attention and although I feel like a snow globe that’s been shook and the reality of being back and not on the ice has hit me, and of course I am genuinely gutted that the objective wasn’t achieved, I feel at peace I made the right decision.

    The experience has been an incredible one.  It’s been one of the toughest things I have done but also one of the most rewarding.  There were moments out there in the wilderness, whether it be the reflection of snow crystals on the ground making it look like I am skiing on diamonds, or the reflections of the crystals in the air to create a Quad Helix, or that incredible day when it broke from a whiteout in to blue sky signalling the dawn of a new year - this expedition seems to have stirred up a lot of emotions for me.

    Only time will tell what effects and how long the effects will be but at the moment I am still struggling to do just the smallest of things.  I am writing this with gear covering the floor not able to face sorting it.  I feel torn.  Part of me misses the simplicity and purity of the expedition and part of me desperately wants to get home to see loved ones.

    Still my overriding feeling is gratitude.

    Although I have a lot of my messages from Twitter, Facebook and emails forwarded to me and I am aware and so grateful for all the support, I haven’t been able to read all your incredible messages but I promise I will get through every one as they are so important to me.

    Right now, it’s more gear sorting avoidance, I am going to pop out and grab something to eat and then head back to bed.

    Night guys.

Older Blog Posts

Antarctica Blog - Day 39 - 25th January 2013 - Friday 25th Jan 2013

Hi Guys.  Well my hashtag “back in the game” was short lived.  I skied for 3 hours yesterday covering 4.27km.  My 30km day on Wednesday, which seemed really promising for everyone including myself, was considerably tougher than any other 30km day I had…

read more »

Antarctica Blog - Day 37 - 23rd January 2013 - Wednesday 23rd Jan 2013

Hi guys.  My food fest was awesome last night.  I had coke, pizza, my Fuizion deserts, crisps, treats, it was great.  I spent quite a while sorting my food bags out for the rest of the expedition and tonight I have eaten the last of my awesome Fuizion…

read more »

Antarctica Blog - Day 36 - 22nd January 2013 - Tuesday 22nd Jan 2013

9.30pm GMT/6.30pm local timeI am a happy man guys!  Got the food! The pilots managed to land about a kilometre away, I actually spoke with humans which was pretty awesome!Just got back in the tent and I am sorting my food out and all the ALE staff have…

read more »



Fact 1

The first humans to reach the Geographic South Pole were Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his party on December 14, 1911, shortly followed by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his British team on January 17, 1912.

Fact 2

At 14.0 million sq km (5.4 million sq miles) Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America and South America.  Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia.    

Fact 3

About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile (1.6 km) in thickness.

Fact 4

Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland.

Fact 5

Currently (as of Dec 2012) the fastest time to ski from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, solo, unassisted and unsupported was recorded by Norwegian Christian Eide who completed the journey in an incredible 24 days, 1 hour, 13 minutes. Eide’s expedition to the South Pole began on 20th December 2010, during the same period Richard was also travelling to the South Pole during his 737 Challenge.

Fact 6

The polar ice sheet is moving at a rate of roughly 10 metres per year in a direction between 37° and 40° west of grid north, down towards the Weddell Sea. Each year on New Year's Day the Geographic South Pole marker is repositioned to compensate for the movement of the ice.

Fact 7

The Geographical South Pole has an altitude of 2,835m/9,300ft.

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Richard Parks – I simply have run out of time

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39 days ago Richard Parks set out on an R&D expedition to ski solo, unassisted and unsupported from Hercules Inlet on the Geographical coastline of Antarctica to the Geographic Sou…

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