Getting to the South Pole – 2005

Day 1, 2 – 2004-12-31 / 2005-01-01

I caught the 09:25 from Cardiff Central to London Padington. We had an interesting diversion into Bristol (Patchway). At Heathrow I had a smooth passage through check-in. My neighbour on the first plane was a 3-year-old girl, who ended up tipping her glass of lemonade in my lap; so a change of trousers was in order once at LAX.

Paddington Station
Paddington Station, Heathrow Express – Click to enlarge

Coming into the US was easy for once. They didn't seem too bothered about the hexapod.

Day 3 – 2005-01-02

The Qantas flight was better than the Air New Zealand, but they messed up my meals (had hot breakfast for dinner!). Getting into New Zealand was not so easy. They took exception to a couple of grass seeds (or seed husks) on my boots, and insisted on making me wait about 20 minutes while they cleaned them. Once I got them back they hadn't much improved on my own scrubbing.

We stopped at the CDC so that I could drop off the hexapod. Then on to the Heritage. Top floor this time – another massive room. Here's a panorama I've stitched together – it nearly works.

Christchurch Panorama
Christchurch Panorama – Click to enlarge

Day 4 – 2005-01-03

After a full breakfast in the OGB restaurant, I headed off to the CDC for my clothing issue. This went smoothly, and this time I have some better-fitting trousers (not so long in the leg).

When I got back to the hotel I called a local riding stables, to find they were just about to pick up from nearby. So I grabbed my boots and headed off to Orton Bradley for a 1-hour ride. Here's a picture of my horse, Sam.

Simon on Sam Sam
Simon on Sam – Click to enlarge Sam – Click to enlarge

Day 5 – 2005-01-04

I got up at the crack of dawn, ready for my flight. But before I got out of the room a call came through to say that we'd been bumped back by 24 hours. So it's another day roughing it on the 11th floor!

On Sam again
On Sam again – Click to enlarge View over the bay – Click to enlarge

After spending the morning working on the documentation for Isgoch and Drych I decided to put my riding skills to the test again. This time I rode for 2½ hours, again on Sam. We got up much higher, opening up some very good views across the bay.

Day 6 – 2005-01-05 – Wednesday

This is it, we're off…

C141 Transport – Click to enlarge
In the C141 In the C141
In the C141 – Click to enlarge In the C141 – Click to enlarge

But then, after three hours in the air, “Sorry guys. Bad news… We've got to go back”.

So, it was back to the Heritage, minus my bags, and now plus a cold. This time I had a room on the 7th floor, inferior to any of the rooms I'd had before.

Day 7 – 2005-01-06 – Thursday

Got up early. Flight cancelled. Back to bed. Pretty much stayed there, with my cold.

Day 8 – 2005-01-07 – Friday

Ditto Thursday.

Day 9 – 2005-01-08 – Saturday

Again I got up early and the flight was cancelled. But the Heritage was full, so I had to move over the road to Warner's. This is very nice, on a much smaller scale.

My suite at Warner's
My “suite” at Warner's – Click to enlarge

My cold was on the way out, so I thought I'd take a walk around the town. But it rained very heavily. Since I had no spare trousers I took myself back to the hotel before I got soaked.

Day 10 – 2005-01-09 – Sunday

Same story – got up early, but flight was cancelled. So after a bit more sleep I took myself down to the restaurant for a big breakfast. The cathedral bells were making a good noise. I went along to the 10 a.m. service, which was very nice.

After lunching on a pasty from “Ma and Pa's” I went to a different horse trek centre. Unfortunately the scenerey was quite dull, but worse than that, my horse, Bill, threw me off! I think he took a dislike to me straight away. He scraped me off against a gatepost – I was a bit slow pulling him away from it. Having lost the stirrup and my balance he then jived about a bit and dumped me on the ground. I survived, pretty winded and bruised. Amazingly the camera seems Ok (I landed on it), just with a scrape on the bottom of the carry case.

I didn't fancy trying Bill again, so they brought up Wally. He wasn't a lot better, and played up the whole time. It didn't help that we were sharing the tracks with boys on motorcycles. But I managed to stay on.

Bill, who dumped me Wally, who played up
Bill, who dumped me – Click to enlarge Wally, who played up – Click to enlarge

Day 11 – 2005-01-10 – Monday

Usual story – got up, only to find that the flight was cancelled. My aches from the fall stopped me getting back to sleep. I had pancakes for breakfast, like you've never seen!

Clem called. He said Oli was having trouble with the SSMS calculations. Apparently I can get my checked bags back from the CDC. I was going to call them anyway – sure enough, I just have to pick them up. So I took a taxi there and back.

Unfortunately the room ethernet doesn't work. But I can use their computer in reception. At least I can read my email.

In the evening I met up with Clem and Erik. I limped after them to a French restaurant for a nice meal.

Day 12 – 2005-01-11 – Tuesday

We got a call to report to the CDC at 12:30. We took off at about 14:45, but because of head-winds the flight took nearly 6 hours. When we finally arrived at Pegasus there weren't enough large transports for us, so half of the passengers, myself included, went to McMurdo by Häglunds. That took another 1½ hours, so it was quite late when we got there.

Coming off the flight Häglunds
Coming off the flight – Click to enlarge Häglunds, waiting to pick us up – Click to enlarge

Day 13 – 2005-01-12 – Wednesday

It was another early start, with a reporting time of 07:00. But we were fogged in, causing a two-hour delay. I went to Discovery Hut again. This time I didn't seen any wildlife, except a Skua.

At 09:00 we took the transport up to Williams Field. After a bit of a wait we were loaded onto our LC130. We arrived at South Pole Station at 14:00.

Hut Point in the Fog
Hut Point in the Fog – Click to enlarge
On the flight LC130, unloading PAX
On the flight – Click to enlarge LC130, unloading PAX at Pole – Click to enlarge

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