South Pole things

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Hoping everyone has come out of their Christmas feast food comas. I’m still here at the South Pole, waiting for the weather to cooperate both at Union Glacier and here at the same time so I can get picked up. Thankfully ALE have the most absurdly lovely guides camped here at the Pole who have been helping me regain the 10kg I lost over the last 5 weeks. It’s a tough job but one I am very willing to cooperate with. My stomach didn’t really know what had hit it when I arrived as I started pouring plates worth of food in my mouth, it completely rejected the quantity and I actually ended up being sick! Moderation has never been my strong point. The second phase has seen bacon become a major player in my life right now, thankfully I’ve regained some self control now and no longer use a funnel to feed myself and downsized to a fork.

The best thing about the ALE camp has to be the warm semi permanent tent that has a solar powered screen and movie filled hard drive. I’ve not been sleeping too well since I got here so between the hours of 1am and 7am this morning watched American Sniper, Lone Survivor and then Bridesmaids. Three very similar movies.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, if the weather goes perfectly there is a chance I could be on a flight out of Antarctica on the 29th, then onwards to the UK back in time for New Years Eve in London. I think we can all agree I owe Liv a nice evening out before this year is up!

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South Pole Arrival

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE SOUTH POLE! Absolutely chuffed to pieces. After 38 days, Bessie and I have made it the pole and officially broken the world record as the youngest person ever to have reached the south pole solo, unsupported and unassisted. “Solo” is incredibly misleading in regards to the people behind this expedition. Absolutely could not have done this without the help of my co presenting sponsors The Shackleton Company and Juice Plus. Both have been instrumental in equipping and preparing me for this expedition.


A huge thank you also goes to everyone at A1 pharmaceuticals, @ETI, @progresif, @scottdunn and @chime.

A very special thanks goes to everyone at the Brigade of Gurkhas who supported and allowed me to undertake this expedition. A huge thanks to my CO - Lt Col Crowe, my OC - Maj Nick Lloyd and my Adjutant - Capt Lou Connolly, who all had to deal with extra work because of my plans! It is much appreciated. I’m very proud of what has been achieved over the last 38 days but serving alongside the Gurkhas will always be my proudest achievement. Jai 1RGR!

Thank you to my friends and family who have supported me through this expedition. It’s always a lot harder to watch someone you care about do something dangerous than actually do it yourself, I appreciate how difficult it must have been, especially for my family, so thank you for understanding (eventually!). Liv will be getting her own thank you post, no words for what she has done for me.

Thanks to Ant @zerosixzero maps for providing all the tracking. Very kind of him to take time away from being a CIA operative of some kind.

Food has obviously become an obsession for me on this trip and I genuinely could not have asked for better help than the guys @basecampfood. I was a customer before and will be again. All that grub was cooked in probably my most prized pieces of kit - my @GSI pot and cup.

The Susmans family business in Sussex also provided me with 8 kg worth of the most delicious droewors and biltong known to man. Thank you!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the the blogs and pictures from the trip, I wouldn’t have been able to upload them without @nsslglobal’s help. The pictures also never would have been taken without help from @olympusuk and @gopro. None of that would have been charged without the awesome kit from @powertraveller either.

I’ve managed to fall asleep within about 2 minutes of my head hitting the mat for 38 days, that’s all thanks to @multimat. Huge fan of their products.

All 10 little piggies that went to the market will be coming back thanks to @intuitionliners and Baffin boots.

I managed to stay attached to my skis thanks to @voile bindings, as a person who can’t ski the chances of me destroying a set were high, they didn’t fail once. Thanks to @Fischer for their help as well, I battered those skis and they’ve survived!

I’ve gone snow blind in the past, it’s horrible, thanks to @julbo for keeping my eyes alive for the entire trip!

I wouldn’t have been able to find my way to the pole without my @suunto compasses from @aboveandbeyond or @garmin gps from @projectxadventure.

I’ve always dreamed of having a @bremont watch, I didn’t realise the lengths I was willing to go to get one! Thanks to everyone there who has helped with the Gurkha watch. My watch was vital to my navigation during this trip and it never failed, even in hideous weather. A truly wonderful piece of engineering.

A big thanks to Steve Jones and everyone at ALE. The help and kindness I have received from you all has meant the world and I wouldn’t have been able to make it without your guidance.

Last but not least - thank you to all of you! I never could have expected the support and engagement we received on this trip. It really has meant the world and some of the messages that have come through have been deeply inspiring. Thanks also to every single one of you that donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust, if you'd still like to donate please visit justgiving.com/scottsears

 

Christmas Eve

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Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a great day. It’s still Christmas Eve here, makeshift stockings are out but judging by the state and stench of them I wouldn’t be surprised if Santa gives those ones a miss.

You’d think being 63km from the pole would be enough morale to make the penultimate day nice and easy. I couldn’t have asked for better weather but well and truly hit a wall midway through the day. I wanted to make sure I was under 30km from the pole for a good finish tomorrow. At 38km left to go I hit the wall, I’ve never experienced anything like it, I would take a couple of steps and just stop, everything was just saying “no more, not one more step”. It was bizarre as I’ve genuinely been feeling pretty good. I pulled out my snack bag and necked half a litre of my @juiceplusuk shake, I was hoping I was just having a sugar crash than mental breakdown. I threw some biltong and chocolate down my neck, begged the IPod poltergeist to randomly select a good pump up tune and got back in the harness. Thankfully the dark iPod lord cooperated and I got a good run of tunes and the calories kicked in, I was able to squeeze 11 more kilometres out, putting me just 27km short. Hoping to arrive at the Pole by around 9pm UK time on Christmas Day so be sure to keep your phone handy when you are in your food comas!

I’m not sure what is more surreal, the fact I’m so close to finally reaching the pole or that the shortbread and pepperamis I bought from Asda in Shoreditch are still acceptable to eat after opening them at the start of November!

Merry Christmas!

Day 37

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Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a great day. It’s still Christmas Eve here, makeshift stockings are out but judging by the state and stench of them I wouldn’t be surprised if Santa gives those ones a miss.

You’d think being 63km from the pole would be enough morale to make the penultimate day nice and easy. I couldn’t have asked for better weather but well and truly hit a wall midway through the day. I wanted to make sure I was under 30km from the pole for a good finish tomorrow. At 38km left to go I hit the wall, I’ve never experienced anything like it, I would take a couple of steps and just stop, everything was just saying “no more, not one more step”. It was bizarre as I’ve genuinely been feeling pretty good. I pulled out my snack bag and necked half a litre of my @juiceplusuk shake, I was hoping I was just having a sugar crash than mental breakdown. I threw some biltong and chocolate down my neck, begged the IPod poltergeist to randomly select a good pump up tune and got back in the harness. Thankfully the dark iPod lord cooperated and I got a good run of tunes and the calories kicked in, I was able to squeeze 11 more kilometres out, putting me just 27km short. Hoping to arrive at the Pole by around 9pm UK time on Christmas Day so be sure to keep your phone handy when you are in your food comas!

I’m not sure what is more surreal, the fact I’m so close to finally reaching the pole or that the shortbread and pepperamis I bought from Asda in Shoreditch are still acceptable to eat after opening them at the start of November!

Merry Christmas!

Day 37

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Needed a big day after last nights set back, thankfully Bessie provided and we are now within 63km of the pole! It was a whiteout all day which wasn’t ideal, but the wind kept at a very sociable level all day which made going good. I’ve learnt that walking with your eyes open or closed in a whiteout makes absolutely no difference to being able to keep in a straight line, so whilst trudging along with my eyes shut I suddenly jerked upwards as I nodded off. How is that possible?! To fall asleep whilst moving?!

The lack of sun did make it very cold today though, I have very cold hands and am having to stop every couple of meters to swing them round to force blood into them. I skied most of the day with my enormous Shackleton down jacket on as well as my wind proof, I usually save that for when I’m stationary!

Snow is now falling lightly on my tent, this would usually be cause for great excitement on Christmas Eve eve, but I’m confident the two miles of snow and ice below are going to hold 48 hours to give me a white Christmas.

A huge thanks to everyone who entered the beanie competition and donated the cost of a pint in memory of Sudan . Entries are still open - just text “ANTG90 £3” to 70070 and then tag a mate below to be entered into the draw.

Day 36

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No points for guessing what word is about to be screamed. To cut a long story short regarding longitude and latitude, here is the simple version. Imagine a clock face, the South Pole is in the middle (obviously), I’m at the 5 o’clock position, at one point today is was just 89km to the middle from where I was. However, the only way you can get to the pole is from the 9 o’clock position because there is an exclusion zone of sciencey stuff going on between the 6 o clock position and the pole. This means I have to walk round and approach from the 9 o clock, putting me 103km in total. Does that make sense? I should still make it on Christmas Day, it just means I’ll be there late in the evening and have to beast myself the next 3 days to make it in time!

The news of the detour wasn’t even the worst part of today! I’ve consumed a lot more of my coffee than I had planned per day, meaning I’ve run out in my hour of need! I need to put in 3 epic days without a single bit of Caffeine, not something I’m looking forward to.

Question:

How have you avoided any injuries or repetitive strain problems on the expedition?

I’ve been very lucky that muscle/tendon/bone wise I haven’t have any injuries yet. I’ve stretched in the evening when I feel the need to but I’d like to think the reason for no injuries is down to solid preparation (and a lot of luck!)

Have you had any injuries?

I’ve had a bit of swelling around my eyes from the cold and some sores across my chest but otherwise I’ve been very lucky so far. The ALE doctors are fantastic and always available on the sat phone to ask any questions.

What’s your next adventure?

In the interest of my own safety (as Liv would kill me). I’ll have to say there are none planned at the moment.

Day 35

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I woke up at 0330am and couldn’t fall back asleep in the slightest (I find the tent comfortable but the subconscious might finally be getting sick of living in something the same width as me!). I thought there was no point just lying there so packed up and got on the way before 0600am. Rather ridiculously I had the same feeling as being out and about in London before the city wakes up, like I had the whole of Antarctica to myself, it’s hardly like I’ve been battling morning rush hour! We covered 35km which brings me to exactly 120km from the pole. You may have heard me say this journey is the same as walking from the Czech Republic to London, if we are still using that analogy then I would have just made it back onto home soil in Dover. If I keep up this pace I’ll be at the pole in three and a half days, which coincidentally is how long it takes to get from Dover to London on Southeastern rail.

I hope you are all out enjoying Christmas drinks over the next couple of days. Gutted to be missing out on all the festive fun. Delighted to hear we have crossed the £30,000 mark for the Gurkha Welfare Trust, a huge thank you to everyone who has donated. If you’re at the pub over the next couple of days you can donate the cost of a Christmas pint in memory of Suraj, by texting ANTG90 £3 to 70070 (where can you find a £3 pint these days?!) Tag a mate below once you’ve donated and you’ll be entered to win a Shackleton beanie (like I’m wearing in the pic).

Questions:

As per desert island disks - what would be your luxury item? Easy - A bottle of sauce that never runs out and a bottle of Pizza Express house dressing that never runs out. The two most versatile sauces on the planet.

What song would you listen to over and over again? Ed Sheeran - Castle on the Hill.

Day 34

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After a very good run of blue skies we were due a white out. I had a couple of patches of blue join me for a few minutes throughout the day but otherwise it was head down staring at the compass for 12 hours. I’m just grateful I managed to get away from the sastrugi before it closed in, otherwise I would have struggled to make any progress at all. The 88th degree has come good on the promise of no sastrugi and we blasted out 35km today. The cloud is likely to stick around for a couple of days, hopefully we won’t have a blog black out like last time, that would be horrible timing! The wind picked up nicely in time for tent pitching, mid struggle can be witnessed above, in about 30 seconds I walk towards the camera unaware I have a guy rope around my ankle and end up face first in the snow.

I received some nice messages of “support” from nameless Officers at the RGR via satphone today, “stop moaning about the cold, it’s cold in Val D’Isere too but we don’t feel the need to blog about it!” My thoughts are with them!

Spoke to my Dad on the satphone this evening, it was truly remarkable as by the time I called it was midnight in the UK and he’d managed to stay awake, the first time he’s made it past 830pm since 94’. Strong work Nige!

Day 33

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I made the mistake today of for some reason thinking sastrugi doesn’t exist outside of the 87th degree. So when after 2 hours of relatively good going I found myself back in the middle of ridges of ice as high as my waist, I threw what I believe is referred to as a wobbly. I was a bit tired and frustrated with the last three days and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to just set up the tent there and then, and call it a day at 11am. Unfortunately, the sastrugi would have still been there tomorrow and the only way I was going to get rid of it was to push on. The voice constantly muttering 38 days....38 days...38 days.... wasn’t having it when I begged for an early finish either. We pushed on and after just shy of 12 hours made 33.36km. This also brought me under 200km to the pole - we’re looking good for a Christmas Day finish.

Despite being very excited to finish and get back to London and everything they flew with it, I’m doing my best to really soak up and enjoy the last few days of this very special experience. I’m extremely fortunate to have experienced Antarctica, let alone in this way. I have no doubt I’ll be missing my tent and Bessie in no time at all, sneaking down to the garage to check on her every now and again.

I’ve also officially run out of slack to tighten on my harness. The buckles are now tightened to the maximum and it’s just a full circle of foam around my waist. When I started off i had a pretty healthy gap at the front. I’m having to  put Bessie a good 15 metres away from the tent with the food sealed inside. I bring in my breakfast for the next morning and that’s it, nothing is safe at this point.

Day 32

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I need to stop looking like such a miserable bugger in my pictures, I think it’s because 90% of the time I’m squinting to see if it’s recording and not actually trying to take a picture. On the plus side - beard watch is back! As you can see it is now at the rather uncomfortable length where it freezes to my buff, requiring me to essentially wax my chin every time I wish to remove it.

I’ve set up camp just a few hundred metres short of the 88th degree. Which will hopefully bring the end of the sastrugi. It also marks the point of where I have to start carrying all my human waste with me, so a very tactical camp
position allowing me free reign for one more night. We managed to get 31km in the bag today, sastrugi was a continued pain in the arse but I hope by tomorrow evening it will have started to flatten out.

The iPod poltergeist is still coming and going, I’m almost certain it’s because of the cold as when things warm up it leaves me alone for a bit. It seems to have a pretty decent sense of humour though as it has switched from just reading out the songs to fast forwarding through them now. I banged out Ed Sheerans album in 2 mins 30 seconds today.

I’m allowing myself the mini fantasy tonight that this time next week I’ll be tucking into Christmas dinner at the South Pole, and then this time in two weeks I’ll be back in London Town - no doubt having already put back on all the weight I lost!

Question:

When you get to the pole will you sleep inside or outside in your tent?

ALE have a small camp at the Pole where I’ll be able to get some food but I’ll still sleep in my tent until the plane comes to pick me up. Don’t think I can legally share a building with anyone given my current body odour situation!