The Big Guns (Log #15)

L O U ' S   D I A R Y  

Day 15 in Antarctica. Brutal headwinds drive temperatures down to around -30C as strong gusts tumble down from the Polar plateau. Lou pulls out the big guns: face masks, goggles, gloves and pogies... He makes 12 nautical miles in 10 hours of hauling and hits an altitude of 4117ft - 5000ft below the pole. For inspiration, Lou recalls a happy memory of he and his daughter waking early and watching a live rocket launch in Cape Canaveral... 


Nov 17 2018 - 

Good evening everyone… 

Reporting in now from day 15 of the expedition. A complete contrast in weather today to yesterday. Yesterday there was hardly a breath of wind and I spent most of the day actually skiing along in my thermal top. Today, quite a brutal headwind which really drove the temperatures down. I estimate, with the windchill, it must have been well into -30 today. Unfortunately when you are skiing to the Pole, it is generally a head wind; a katabatic wind tumbles down from the Polar plateau higher up, and accelerates as it runs down hill. It was right in my face, so it was pulling out all the big guns today with face masks, goggles and everything on and then gloves and pogies as well, which are sort of a cover that goes on top of the ski stick. You put your gloved hand into there and it provides a bit of wind protection. So I had those as well, and the fur ruff on my hood up, forming a tunnel – enough to see out through the goggles – and head down and lean into it and chip away at it. Despite a stiff head wind, I still managed to get in 12 nautical miles in my ten hours of hauling, so I’m really pleased with that. I’m now over 4,000ft, I’m at 4,117ft, when I stopped this evening. So it’s great that I’m really gaining altitude now. The Pole is around 9,300ft, so I’ve got another about 5,000ft of climbing.

I’m now a couple of days away from a bit of a milestone called Thiels Corner. The expedition company ALE have got a runway there, a small building and a couple of other bits and pieces, so it’s a bit of a milestone to hit Thiels, and that’ll be 85 degrees South. That’ll put me five degrees from the Pole.

I mentioned yesterday I’ve got lots of coping strategies and I’ll share them throughout this blog as I go through the expedition. One that I was using today is reliving happy moments, and I used a memory of our holiday in Florida this year. Me and my daughter Amy got up at 3 o’clock in the morning and drove out to Cape Canaveral to watch a live rocket launch. I’m reliving that moment of me and her stood on the shoreline, looking across the water, watching the rocket go up – the sensation, the noise, it was such a special moment, me and her. That really helped today in the cold temperatures, to relive those moments. Happy memories are a great coping strategy and I’ve got a few of them that I’ll share.

Little Sastrugi

Before I finish off, a quick shout out to Baz Gray – a friend of mine; ex-Royal Marine mountain leader – he is, I believe it’s tomorrow, heading out from the UK to Chile to do his own Antarctic journey. He’s doing solo, unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, that’s his first Polar journey. Best of luck Baz and I look forward to seeing you soon.

That’s all for tonight.