The Finish (Part Two - Log #56)

L O U ' S   D I A R Y  

Day 58 in Antarctica. At 5pm local time the ALE plane lands at Colin and Lou's camp on the Ross Ice Shelf. Both men load their pulks and settle in for the flight back to basecamp at Union Glacier. Once there they'll take on as much food as they can, soak up the relative comfort and make final preparations before flying onward to South America. This is the end of their journey across the frozen continent - their long-awaited return to civilisation. Lou wraps up with a few more thank yous and acknowledgements...


Dec 30 2018 - 

[I also want to take this opportunity to thank] the British Army, the Commandant up at the School of Infantry in Catterick – Colonel Stitt, again huge thanks to him for his support, particularly from the point of view of his budget! Hopefully we can recover most of the money, so not too big a dent in your budget Sir…. And also his budget manager up there Jo Henson, who just navigated the financial minefield – sorting out the contract, which was just beyond me. Without her help and support, it would not have been possible to arrange the contract between ourselves and ALE. So huge thanks for that.

My direct boss down at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon – Lt Col Shaun Chandler. Again, huge thanks to him, totally believing in me right from the beginning. Without his support and allowing me the time and space to prepare, and taking the hit with me being away for three months on the expedition as well. Huge thanks from me and to all the rest of the team at the Infantry Battle School who were involved in different ways. It all means a huge amount.

Army Adventure Training Group – an incredible organisation which facilitates this wonderful adventure training scheme for soldiers throughout the Army. The team down there – Col Neil Wilson, Col Chris Coates, Maj Graham Cooke and Cliff Pearn and all the rest of the team there, helped out massively with support in so many different ways. Col Chris Coates came along to the launch event as well, a great evening. Huge thanks from me for everything you guys have done – believing in me and in this expedition – it means an awful lot. 

On the civilian commercial sponsorship side; my key partners The Shackleton Company – they’ve been absolutely incredible. Steve Jones from ALE summarised it as ‘a complete masterclass in partnership between adventurer and commercial sponsor. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Ian Holdcroft and Martin Brooks and the rest of the team there. It’s been a partnership made in heaven and it’s worked so well and you guys have done so much beyond standard commercial support. With the website, the publicity, the displays in Harvey Nicks. I’ve been using quite a bit of gear and clothing from the Shackleton Company on this expedition and it’s performed to the highest standards. It really is superb quality. I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s stuff I’ll be looking forward to using, hopefully, on future trips. It’s been a match made in heaven, so thank you very much. And their support team; Dirt and Glory – Nige and the gang there – again huge thanks with everything you’ve done publicising the expedition. It has been a thoroughly professional job and I’ve really enjoyed working with you guys.

A late entry for shout outs too – to the passengers and crew of the Seabourn Quest, who have been to South Georgia and Elephant Island and have just arrived in Antarctica itself. I know you’ve been following the journey – so a shout out to you from across the continent!

Another key sponsor – Level Peaks Associates in Hereford – Kev Mann, Pete Ditchfield, Abbie Smithers and all the team there – huge thanks for your support and I look forward to popping in, as you’re local, and telling you all about the expedition. I don’t know if you still smoke cigars Kev, but I’ve got you some anyway from Chile, some of their finest, so I’ll be popping those in when I get back.

Also local to me in Hereford, Skinzophrenic Tattoos, run by Pete Masters and his son George. Pete is Hereford’s biggest gangsta ‘Mom’s spaghetti’ as Pete always says. Thanks for all your support. I may well be getting Spirit of Endurance tattoo done when I get back, so I look forward to coming in mate and catching up, that’ll be brilliant. Thanks for everything you’ve done.

Also, I’d like to say a huge thanks to Rhodri Lewis from Nordic Life, for the sponsorship of the Alfa boots – they’re absolutely brilliant Rhodri and performed faultlessly. A couple of minor blisters but they were absolutely brilliant so huge thanks for that. 

Steve Collins and Gus Magee. Gus, thanks for coming along to the launch event, it was great to meet you. Huge thanks to both you guys for your incredible financial support towards the trip. It means a lot.

Team Army – Lamont Kirkland and the team there – huge thanks to them and I look forward to the Army Navy game when I return.

To Richard Crook, from Airbus, for all the communications package support. Again, it meant a huge amount. He did it for me on SPEAR and again delivered in spades on this expedition. Everything I’ve been sending back has all been using the equipment that you guys supplied, so it means a huge amount.

To Expedition Foods, for all my freeze-dried meals, they’ve been absolutely delicious and has given me the fuel to complete the journey. To Mary and team there – huge thanks to them for their support. 

To Greg Hill, for his financial support and for the Union Jack that I’ve been carrying on the expedition. I’ve got some great shots with that Greg, so I look forward to handing that over on my return back.

To my little brother, Nick Rudd, also to my father, and my Grandad and my Auntie Christine and all the gang there, the family that have been following and supporting, and for their charity donations, huge thanks for that, really appreciated.

SSVC – Services Sound and Vision Corporation – thanks very much for their financial support, hugely appreciated as well as charity donations from The Shackleton Foundation, and to the Alex Fairley Memorial Fund and Colonel David Parker, who again got involved really early on, so huge thanks for that.

Newall Hunter for the carbon fibre cooker board. It’s been absolutely brilliant mate, it’s performed perfectly throughout, and I look forward to a beer when I get back.

I’d like to thank ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, which I’m an ambassador for, and I’ve been fundraising for on this expedition, it’s been great working with you guys, and the team up there and I look forward hopefully to doing much more in the future. The fundraising’s still going on, so hopefully we can make some good progress on that and I’ve got some plans for when I get back. 

Also thanks to John Jones, for his support and for coming to the launch event – for making it with you and your wife, and I hope you’ve enjoyed following the expedition. I look forward to coming in for a return full English, like the one you made for me before I departed. I’ve been dreaming about that most days as I’ve been skiing across the continent. Huge thanks.

Huge thanks to Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, for all their support. They’re a highly professional company. They got me into Antarctica, and hopefully out again tomorrow. For their full coverage throughout the trip, and obviously without whose support this wouldn’t have been possible. And in particular to their UK-based expeditions and operations manager Steve Jones, who was heavily involved in all the planning throughout this year to put this all together. Huge thanks from me and hopefully catch you out here soon Steve – I believe you’ve coming out to guide a last degree.

Big shout out to the Forces Wives Challenge, run by Heather Sharp. I’ve been involved with those – I helped them with a bit of build-up training – I did a Three Peaks session with them back in the UK, and they’re coming out to Chile fairly soon to do their own expedition, to climb the world’s highest volcano. Best of luck ladies, I look forward to following you expedition next. That’ll be great. And to Heather and her husband Langley, thanks very much for your wonderful messages of support that I’ve been receiving throughout the trip, and absolutely look forward coming down and giving you guys a heads up on the trip – I really look forward to that.

And really finally, a general thank you to all who have been commenting on Facebook, and all of the social media platforms, the Shackleton site, that have been following the trip from all around the world – quite a lot of Amercians as well, due to the New York Times coverage. Thank you. Obviously I’ve not been able to view social media and see the Facebook page and all the comments on there, but rest assured when I get back to the UK I will sit down and go through every single one, and I’ll read everything that’s been put on there.

I’ve had some general feedback via Wendy, the expedition manager, so thank you very much for that, and to everyone who’s donated towards the charity as well, it’s an incredible cause The Soldiers’ Charity, so thank you very much for all your support. It means a lot. Everybody involved – without them this trip would not have been possible. 

There are many many more people – apologies if I’ve missed anybody off – please rest assured I will catch up with everybody on my return to the UK. Just a general thank you to everyone, it means a lot and I really look forward to catching most of you and giving you a heads up face to face on everything!

That’s all for now.