Hot hot hot

I spoke too soon about the flights… That was a long 12 hours on the Madrid to Buenos Aires leg. Finally at Buenos Aires where I flew through passport control and David had 50 questions from security – this is after setting off every metal detector and scanner between Heathrow and Argentina!

When you walk out of the airport in Buenos Aires you are hit by a wall of heat… 28C at 9pm,real contrast to the sub zero temperatures we’ll be facing in a bit. It stays sweaty when you take the taxi transfer between the Argentine airports – the roads definitely have rules just no one obeys them, and there see to be police every few hundred metres.

Think I’m missing the relatively comfortable warmth at home at most.

The Spanish I haven’t practiced for 10 years seems to be holding up ok which is good but I do remember that a number of standard words in mainland Spain like to “TAKE a bus” mean something very obscene in South American Hispanic countries with colloquial variations.

21 hours without sleep now – just another 8 to wait for the next flight with no where to sleep but this flight will will get us to our final destination…

@severn – can someone comment and talk me through today’s fruitbowl?

@optimisation – is Sutton coming back on Monday? #Mondaycoldstart


First Leg

As ever I was awake one minute before my alarm…it was 04:29 when I looked at my watch. Even with only fitful sleep over the past week the anticipation has warded off any fatigue. David and I were both tempted to ring Kevin’s room as we checked out at 05:00am just to thank him once more for the opportunity to die in the cold on the trip of a lifetime.

Gathering up 25kg of baggage each we headed to terminal 5 at Heathrow which as Dawn quite rightly said looks more like a shopping centre than airport terminal.

Terminal 5

Quick trip through security and onto the hop to Madrid – which has passed really quickly. I must say I have not looked forward to the flights due to the seat pitch etc but it’s been an easy first leg.

Those that know me well from the office will understand when I say I had to endure a soft cheese croissant on the first flight… Hoping Iberia serves chicken salad for lunch on the next leg to Buenos Aires.

Only having shared a few hours with David we’ve already learnt so much about each other’s roles. There is so much we take for granted, so much we assume and so many opportunities we haven’t yet uncovered for synergy but it all starts with the most basic appreciation of what the other person does and why and how our actions affect each other.

Meeting Kevin

I first tried to arrange a meeting with Kevin McCullough last week, unfortunately pre arranged commitments prevented it, so it was important to us both that we met prior to my departure…….his resounding advice to me was ‘just don’t die’

Now I don’t know about you but when the man who arranges for you to travel to the (some might say ”edgy”) remotest place in the world, and then says ‘just don’t die’ while smiling……….I’m checking my insurance!

Joking aside, it was a very enjoyable meeting, this being the first time i’ve met Kevin it was a delight, for those who don’t know him, he’s easy going, straight forward and approachable.  He is very genuine and has a no-nonsense vision for moving the company forward and i’m looking forward to meeting with him on my SAFE return to discuss future endeavours.

Myself and Stuart have a very early start tomorrow and a some 30hrs travel ahead, with that in mind, please give us a couple of days before our next update.  We’ll update as soon as we can.

“Where are you flying to sir?”

A bag laden and slightly tired Stuart here…

I think yesterday it truly hit that this journey has begun as I got up to leave the MPF office at the end of the day and spontaneous applause broke out… I realised I was about to undertake a unique journey.  This realisation cost me last night’s sleep as I mentally inventoried my equipment over and over again.

This morning I said goodbye to my girlfriend as she went to work and was left in the house for a few quiet moments of absolute calm before snapping out of the trance to realise I had to pack my final sundries. Even though I’ve packed a lot I’m leaving a lot behind for a few weeks. Family, girlfriend, training buddies, friends, colleagues, and soon… all contact with the outside world.

That being you can track the ship we will use as a base at – there is a GPS Feed and updates from the organisers.

Before I lose contact I realise that I need to thank Martin and Sophie at Cotsworld Outdoors Cardiff for their extensive help and fitting of the immense list of equipment I have procured over the last few days. I still find it odd that clothes I buy in Cardiff city centre will protect me the rapidly changeable and arduous Antarctic conditions but their support and expertise has removed so much of the angst around whether I have enough appropriate kit.

I’ve now made it to Heathrow to begin the first leg of the 30 hour chain of flights that will deliver us to the southern most city of Argentina, Ushuaia. As I check in at the hotel where I will say farewell to Kevin I’m asked the ultimate destination of my journey by the receptionist… “Where are you flyng to sir?” And again like at the start of this blog entry as I utter the word “Antarctica” and see the startled facial expression it hits me that the journey has begun…


The Journey Begins

“the journey of 10,182 miles starts with a single step”

3 flights London/Madrid – Madrid/Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires/Usuaia
A total of nearly 30hrs travelling with a 600+ Nautical Mile voyage through Drakes Passage in the Soutern Ocean, that journey is over 10,000 miles or 16,400 Km.

Although I’m used to travelling by air having visited many countries around the world on 6 different continents, its the ocean voyage that I’m most excited about, not being a sailor I’m both apprehensive and eager to experience it.  I have been told its the most feared jouney amongst yachtsmen and women across the globe, reporting high rough seas of 6m swells.  That just makes me feel queasy, I can only image my view will be ‘sky-sea sky-sea sky-sea’ as the ships bow rises and dips pushing fearlessly towards our destination, the Antarctic Peninsula.

Current weather conditions at the South Pole are very cold, -47 with snow flurries and a light/moderate wind from the north.  Luckily we are only going to the peninsula currently snowing and a tropical -3 with southerly winds.

Of course weather will have a major part in how our itinerary plays out, being flexible and adaptable will be key during our stay in the Antarctic region.




Antarctica 2041 intro

Many of you will now know the purpose of our expedition to Antarctica, however I just wanted to quickly go through some of exciting opportunities that lie ahead for me and Stuart.

We have been fortunate enough to be selected to attend this years IAE2041 expedition to Antarctica organised and lead by polar explorer Robert Swan OBE, his organisation has a superb website which contains detailed information.

Kevin McCullough has been the driving force behind this opportunity and requested a written application from prospective candidates, I nervously wrote and re-wrote mine several times.  Having to wait several days for a reply, Kevin finally gave me the good and very exciting news…….’I hope your passport is in date?’

Since then, which strangely seems months ago, I feel my feet havn’t touch the ground, with only 10days notice its been an eventful time.  Having organised my own mountaineering expeditions, I know all the things that are required and would normally give myself 12-18 months to organise a trip like this!


I have to say it would be nigh on impossible if it wasn’t for the hard work, dedication and tenasity of Dawn Parker, what a person, if you were in any doubt how good Dawn is, look at the numbers…..18months planning/preperation in 10days! I have great respect. So a very big THANK YOU.

Our challenges don’t stop there, getting everything ready, tickets, travel arrangements, meetings, hotel bookings and more are just the first steps of this expedition, take a look at the equipment….

antarctic2 002

Shockingly most of that is cold weather clothing and cameras.

Over the last few days i’ve got to know Stuart and we are looking ahead to the challenges before us, this is a fantastic opportunity for us to gain a vast amount of information, ideas and leadersip skills from Robert Swan who is engaging and inspiring.  It is those elements we intend to bring back and share with you all over the next few weeks, so please keep checking in for daily (if not frequent) updates to the blog.

The first challenge is all but complete, I know Stuart and I have been focused and have worked tirelessly over the last few days to ensure we have everything ready for this once in lifetime opportunity.  I will be working as hard as I can to ensure I obtain, soak up, learn all the information I can to then deliver that information back to my colleagues at (but not exclusive) Sutton Bridge and across all aspects of the business, this is my challenge.  It is up to you therefor to read the blog, keep in touch, leave comments, ask questions….no, demand information from us.  This is my challenge to YOU.

I have set myself several goals to be achieved over the duration of the expedition, personal things like stepping onto the ice, capturing the awe of the space around me, the flora and fauna.  Professionally I want to expand, follow ideas, be insired, gain the ability to nurture, inspire and motivate those around me, not just at work but with friends and family too.  I have set the bar high to ensure I maximise this extraordinary opportunity.

Final words go to Dawn; To be able to work under extremely (and they have been extreme) demanding circumstances, Dawn has delivered results with professionalism and kindness, I have the utmost respect.

”It is the fear we feel that tells us it is the right thing to do, without the fear we are not pushing our boundaries”


Leadership Challenge

Challenge 1: You receive a phone call, you have exactly 10 days in which to prepare for a trip to Antarctica for which you have absolutely none of the equipment and initially no guidance on how to prepare…. Slowly elements of guidance and support appear and you must co-ordinate these to achieve your first goal… Get to the Southern most tip of Argentina, a settlement called Ushuaia to join the 2041 expedition to Antarctica.

So why is the expedition called 2041 and why is Antarctica Special?  Well in brief…

  • Antarctica does not belong to any one country or even to a group of countries
  • It’s lands (and ice and snow) have no nationality in the way that we understand it in the rest of the world.
  • There is no “Government of Antarctica” in the way that we understand it in the rest of the world. This is largely as there are no indigenous peoples and no-one lives there permanently, the only habitations are scientific stations that people visit for short time periods, usually from a couple of months to just over a year.

How did this come about?  Representatives of the 12 nations met in Washington, D.C. in 1959 to draft and sign the Antarctic Treaty. This agreement dedicated the entire continent to peaceful scientific investigation. It came into effect in 1961 and all historical territorial claims were suspended. In 1991, 24 nations approved a protocol (addition) to the treaty that would ban oil and other mineral exploration for at least 50 years, this is up for negotiation in 2041.

The key objectives of the Antarctic Treaty are:

  • To keep Antarctica demilitarized, to establish it as a nuclear-free zone, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only.
  • To promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica.
  • To set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.

The result is that Antarctica is one of the few places in the world which has never been affected by war, where the environment is fully protected and where the priority is scientific research. What a unique arrangement which shows Man has it within him to put something about his own selfish desire.

So with a clear goal I set about researching the kit I would need while Dawn, best described as superwoman, worked on the almost insurmountable problem of getting Dave, my travel partner, and myself to Argentina with similarly short notice.  There aren’t enough superlatives to describe someone, like Dawn, who works so hard and so selflessly on your behalf to help you take the first steps on your journey safely.

As for procuring the equipment required… I think I am ready with 36 hours to go to check and re-check…  The most frightening thing is that I don’t know what I might be missing and I will only find out when I am there.  I get the feeling this won’t be the only time that the test will come first, and the lesson afterwards…

So… Challenge 1 accepted Kevin… I’m looking forward to the next obstacles on the road to Ushuaia and beyond the fringe of the inhabited world.


Kit Laid Out for Inventory and Packing