WE MADE IT - having met up with the main Ice Team as planned (and by the skin of our teeth due to weather delays) on 9th January 2009 (22.30 GMT), we covered the 97 nautical miles and reached the South Pole on 19th January (19.00 GMT, 08.00 on 20th January South Pole - New Zealand - time).
A huge thank you to everyone for all of your support and generosity !!
Following recent training within the Arctic Circle, I have been chosen to take part in a centenary expedition to the South Pole (http://www.shackletoncentenary.org/about/).
The expedition is being organised by descendants of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 'Nimrod' expedition of 1908/09. The Expedition's patrons are Princess Anne and Robert Swan OBE (a famous present-day polar explorer).
On 9th January 1909, the 'Nimrod' expedition team turned back some 97 nautical miles (c120 statute miles) from the South Pole – when Shackleton decided to save his team from certain starvation. Shackleton subsequently held the record for the 'Farthest South' until Dec 1911, when Amundsen reached the South Pole.
The first expeditionary team of 3 (completely insane) people (lead by Lt. Col. Henry Worsley) set-off in November 2008 to cover the entire c900 mile Shackleton route to the Pole !
I am part of a second (4 person) team that will meet Henry Worsley's team at the spot that Shackleton turned back (exactly one hundred years to the day) - and then go on to finish the task !
Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest place on Earth.
It is extremely cold (January average -35C, winter temperatures down to -80C), has strong katabatic headwinds (up to 120mph) and high altitudes (the South Pole is c9,300 feet above sea level, but the rotation of the earth makes the air so thin it is like being at 11,000 feet above sea level).
In addition, the nature of the snow makes hauling the sledges (up to 150 lbs – and almost entirely ‘up hill’ over a distance equivalent to London-to-Birmingham) feel like they are being dragged through sand !
Fewer people have trekked to the South Pole than have scaled Everest !
The primary purpose of the expedition is to raise money for a charitable foundation, The Shackleton Foundation. The Shackleton Foundation is creating an endowment of £10 million over the next five years to support individuals of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds who exemplify the spirit of Sir Ernest Shackleton: inspirational leaders wishing to 'make a difference'. The Foundation helps individual leaders cross their own 'Antarcticas', in whatever field, especially where the project benefits the 'less advantaged'. For more information, please visit www.shackletonfoundation.org. For example, the Foundation has recently provided funding for http://www.envision.org.uk/.
Please help in any way that you can.
Thank you very much,
Richard / Ronnie
*** DRAW WINNER ***
The winner of the unique draw is Bertie Aspinall, aged 9 months, from London. I will be taking one of Bertie's favourite soft toys in my sledge to the South Pole, where it will be photographed to certify it as a polar explorer !
Who knows, given that the expedition will also be the subject of a full special edition Timewatch BBC program next year – Bertie's toy may become famous !
Donating through Justgiving is quick, easy and totally secure. It’s also the most efficient way to sponsor me: The Shackleton Foundation gets your money faster and, if you’re a UK taxpayer, Justgiving makes sure 25% in Gift Aid, plus a 3% supplement, are added to your donation.
So please sponsor me now!