12.24am (GMT 10th Jan) 9.24pm Local time

We have had our first night on the polar plateau and I didn’t sleep particularly well, the wind was very strong and buffeted the tent, it was quite noisy most of the night so I only slept for 2 or 3 hours and that was all. I woke up still feeling groggy with this altitude sickness, it makes you feel like you have a hangover which is unfair as I haven’t drunk any alcohol at all, but they warned us that was one of the symptoms. I still feel a bit rubbish but first thing had a very nice breakfast of frozen egg, which I ate although I didn’t really want it. It is a really beautiful day, beautiful blue sky, not a cloud in the sky but incredibly cold, colder than anything we have had so far. With the wind chill, the temp gauge was about -36°C this morning. We got ourselves sorted and decamped at 10am and set off to the pole again. We sledded for 2 hours – we did 3 x 2 hour pulls and we covered 8.3 statute miles which I was quite pleased with because it was the first proper day. We only stopped twice in those 6 hours for about 10 mins each time, and that’s something else I learned, in those temperatures you don’t look forward to the breaks, they are simply to take on some liquid and eat something but I was still feeling nauseous from altitude so all I ate was a peanut bar and a few raisins all day between breakfast and supper. I drank because the important thing is to keep hydrated because the air is so dry and you are working quite hard hauling the sledge . The sledge is about 80lbs in weight so it was quite hard and the sastrugi was quite difficult today, it’s quite deep.

We got to our current position at 4.30pm and I was pretty exhausted to say the least so we put the tent up and got in it quite quickly. In these temps you are either hauling your sled or you’re in your tent. There is nothing in between at all. We were in the tent by 4.40, I had a quick rest and had sausage and mash for supper. Ironically now with the special red tent that absorbs the heat and with the sun on my side of the tent it is roasting in here, but the sun will move round through the night to the end of the tent and it will all go cold again so it is difficult. Even if you go outside for 5 or 10 seconds you have to dress up and put gloves, down jacket and everything on it is so cold out there.

Thanks to everyone for their good wishes. It’s great to know you are following me on my blog, but don’t forget to make a donation if you haven’t yet, we’ve got a long way to go. Thanks everyone. That’s it; it’s been a good day I’ll report in tomorrow.

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William’s interview with Radio Pembrokeshire

Click below to here the interview.

Radio Pembrokeshire Interview

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11.05pm (GMT) 8.05pm Local time

We were transported from Union Glacier today out onto the Polar plateau. The weather was good and we had about a 4 hour flight, with one fuel stop about half way. It is an incredible expanse of nothingness. We were eventually dropped on the ice unceremoniously at exactly 89° South. We have set off and did a couple of hours to shake down. I was warned that I would feel a bit groggy and I do, a bit breathless, a bit of nausea and a headache so we did a couple of hours before stopping to put the tent up. We have done about 2 miles! but it‘s a start. We are going to do 4 or 5 miles tomorrow, but we are still taking it easy until at least Thursday because of altitude. Everything is good here, it was very cold when we first got out of the aeroplane, – 30°C I’m told and no sun. Wind wasn’t’ too bad, everything works, the sledges work, goggles work, they didn’t get steamed up. I was plenty warm enough so everything is off to a good start and we quite happy with everything. We are currently snuggled in a tent, Seth is cooking beef stew, which smells fab and the stove warms the tent up very quickly. We have some frozen items which we are trying to thaw out but nothing untoward and we are happy with the start. I will be in touch again tomorrow.

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I spent a comfortable night in my tent waking once at 3.00 am this morning.  I had to put on my sunglasses as the light was so bright and intense and without I would not have been able to get back to sleep.  The silence is quite literally deafening.  Absolute quietness. 

The food here at camp is excellent with a dedicated cooking tent.  Breakfast this morning was bacon and scrambled egg but things will change once we start the trek.  This morning was spent with my guide Seth preparing our daily rations.  We will snack on cheese, salami and crackers, have freeze-dried oatmeal porridge, frozen meals and freeze-dried dishes.  I have been told we might have some steak for one meal – a red letter day!  Drinking is important as dehydration is a real threat.  The cold air sucks moisture from where it can so I have to drink a minimum of 3 litres a day.    All of these rations will be put on to the sledge that I will have to pull for the 100 kilometre trek along with my tent and fuel for the cooking stove.  The spirit stoves are run on a form of paraffin.  I have also been given my snow shovel and ice saw and my ski’s have been adjusted to fit my Baffin boots. 

The news this morning is that the planned trip out of Union Glacier for today has had to be postponed until Sunday due to bad weather on the Antarctic Plateau.    This delay has presented the opportunity for a mini-expedition – a skiing trip to the mountains and crevasses surrounding the camp with my guide Seth and photographer John Beatty.    This will give me a small taste of what is to come.    When we arrive at 89° South on the  Antarctic Plateau on Sunday the temperatures will be significantly lower than the -10° we have at Union Glacier – not taking into account any wind chill factor.  There is also the potential threat of altitude sickness with no opportunity to acclimatize and we will be 500 miles from any help – so if the weather is bad you stay put in your tent for however long it takes for the weather to improve.    The icy surface will be uneven, sculpted into uneven folds by the wind and called sasturgi.  This will make the going slow and physically tiring – especially pulling the laden sledge.    I expect to walk approximately 7 kilometres on the first day building up to 10 to 15 kilometres over a 9 to 10 day trek.

A final plea – don’t forget that I am undertaking this physically challenging and demanding trip in order to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.  There is a button for donating on this website.  Please help to make my trip worthwhile.

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Union Glacier – 5th January 2012

I have had a very dramatic day which started by being woken at 5.45 am this morning and given just 30 minutes to be ready for the pickup to take me to the airport. Luckily all went to plan and they didn’t leave me behind. When I arrived at the airport we were taken out to an incredible aircraft called an Illyushin 76.  I walked up the steps into a huge cargoe hold with absolutely no windows. All the freight was stored behind us, including fuel and supplies for Antartica. The flight took 4½ hours and although I could not see a thing I was able to watch the altimeter in the hold which told me when the plane was descending – I also heard the wheels go down. We landed on a 4 kilometre ice runway, 3,000 metres thick on the glacier itself. The plane took a very long to come to a halt as you cannot put the brakes on an ice runway.

Deplaned into glorious sunshine, the most incredible backdrop I have ever seen. I was absolutely speechless. Although it was very sunny and the sky was an uninterrupted blue the temperature was -10˚C. The glacier is surrounded by mountains on 3 sides – awe inspiring. We were driven to our camp – which is quite extensive – and shown around the facilities. The plan is to spend three days here before the next leg of the journey. I have a tent of my own, which has a double-skin, hard floor, camp bed, table and a little bowl for washing in. All good so far!

We may fly to the interior on Friday or Saturday and I will keep you up to date as I know more. The expedition may take some 8 or 9 days and we may have a couple of stay over days at the South Pole as I would like to be there on the 17th of January – the anniversary of Scotts arrival.

We another orientation meeting this evening in bright sunshine! How odd it is that the sun shines 24 literally 24 hours in the day. It will be as bright at 3.00 am in the morning as it is in the middle of the afternoon. I am very glad of the eyeshade that I have brought with me.

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Inside the freight plane getting ready to take off

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Punta Arenas

Sent 04/01/2012
I arrived in Punta Arenas on the evening of 2nd January. Punta is quite an interesting place, it has a population 125,000 a small city. The entire region only has a population of 150,000. Mostly Spanish, Yugoslavs and Germans. It is quite dour place, with a bit of a sort of frontier town atmosphere. It is quite cold with an average annual temperature of 6°C. It is midsummer here now and barely warm enough to walk round without a second layer. It rains every single day. On the first day I arrived I had a look round town in the morning and then it started to get serious! I had a kit check yesterday that took over an hour. The company that I fly into Antarctica with called ALE – Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions are an extremely professional and proficient organisation. They said they would be at the hotel at 6pm and were there on the dot. I had been given a list of some 80 plus pieces of specific and obviously quite specialised kit, they went through every single piece that I had. I am not allowed to take any more than that or anything else. They were happy with what were happy with what I had and the kit has now been packed, weighed and tagged by them and has been taken to be loaded onto the aircraft.
Today (04/01/2012) first thing I had to walk across town to a briefing that took 2.5 hours. It was about Antarctica and the Antarctic treaty but then it moved onto the more serious stuff of safety, especially medical issues, a lot about frost bite, altitude sickness and sunburn. Not only is the sun very strong in Antarctica, but it bounces off the snow and can burn the underside of your nose and chin quite badly so that is something I have learnt today. Dehydration is also a big issue because the air down there is so dry as well as being very cold. My kit has now gone so I am left standing in the clothes that I shall wear in tomorrow and I will leave a small bag here in Punta for my return. I have been told to be on standby from 6am local time tomorrow morning (9am GMT Thurs 5th) and we have been told that there is a 90% chance that the flight will leave tomorrow morning. The flight is 4.5 hours in a Russian freight aircraft so we will sit in the freight hold of this massive aircraft that can carry 17 tonnes of freight. We do actually have a seat at the front of the hold but behind us will be vehicles and food and whatever they are taking in to Antarctica.
The expedition arrangements have been confirmed, my guide is an American called Seth who is a professional guide working at Union Glacier. It is also confirmed that it will just be the two of us on the last degree, there are some other people doing the last degrees but they will be doing their own expedition – I hope we get on as we will be in close proximity for about a week!
I am pretty restless now, want to get on, I am anxious but excited and hopefully tonight will be the last night in a proper bed for a few weeks. If all goes to plan the next update should be from Antarctica and from my satellite phone.

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Santiago

Santiago
Sent 02/01/11
I am currently in Santiago and have a 7 hour wait which is a bit of a bore. I am 28 hours into my trip and hopefully on the last leg with only 6 more to go. It has been uneventful, except that I have been fighting with every check in as I refuse to put my boots and jacket in the hold as I have been warned that they sometimes lose luggage and if I lose these pieces of equipment I won’t be going to the Antarctica. So far I have managed to blag my way onto the planes with excess cabin luggage, but if push comes to shove I will have to wear everything and go on that way as they will not be able to stop me.
Anyway, I don’t know much about Chile. It was a bit of a surprise flying into Santiago because we flew over it in the early misty, morning sunshine. It is a beautiful city nestled at the base of the Andes which looks stunning, a very clean, smart, modern city. What was also a bit of a shock as it is now early morning and close to 30°C, if you can imagine, I’m sitting here wearing my Antarctic clothes feeling a bit overdressed. The other thing that is intriguing is that Santiago is less than 8 hours flying time to Union Glacier and the interior of Antarctica.
I hope to get to Punta Arenas tonight, have a decent night’s sleep and shower then I have 2 busy days checking kit and briefings prior to going into Union glacier hopefully on Thursday.
Hope to update again before leaving Punta.

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Departure

Departure day is almost here. My journey from Pembrokeshire starts tomorrow, but I will not reach Southern Chile until Monday the 2nd of Jan. Getting to this stage has taken a lot of hard work and organisation and my thanks go once again to Cherry and Liz for helping me get this far. I would also like to thank Elvira Watts who has attached my corporate sponsor’s logos to my kit. You will see who these are elsewhere on the website.

Also thanks to everyone who has made donations through the website so far, these are trickling in but now that I am actually leaving, please, please make a donation for Teenage Cancer Trust, which is a really worthy cause.

Everything is ready for my departure. My kit is sorted, I have a satellite phone and all the travel arrangements are in place. I leave tomorrow morning and will spend a quiet New Year’s Eve in an hotel in Heathrow with Pamela. I then fly out of UK on Sunday via USA to Southern Chile.

I am feeling – anxious, excited and very focused and really just want to get on with it after all the preparation. I will be endeavouring to post more regular blogs during my trek to keep everyone updated. Next time will be from foreign climes!

Me leaving the office for the last time before my trek

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Interview on Roy Noble Show

My training is really beginning to step up now.  I am doing intense gym sessions and at least one trek with a weighted pack each week, but feeling fitter each time.  Preparations are hotting up a pace, I now have all my kit including prescription goggles and glasses, which Specsavers have kindly sponsored and I have booked my hotel in Punta Arenas for the stopover in Southern Chile before transfer to Antarctica.

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