You can follow the journey of Robert and Barney Swan, Kyle O’Donoghue, and Martin Barnett on the 2041 Website: CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THE SPEC TEAM
•November 9, 2017 Robert, Barney, Kyle and Martin are presently in Punta Arenas, Chile. They are preparing their sledges and packing up all of the gear in preparation for the flight to Union Glacier.
Check Out This Video on Instagram from Barney Swan in Punta Arenas! https://www.instagram.com/p/BbQZ26YDg4G/?taken-by=2041climateforce
•November 13, 2017 The team are still in Punta Arenas and are awaiting some of the last pieces of equipment to arrive. The weather is quite cold at Union Glacier at the moment, with clouds and a low of -23°c.
•November 15, 2017 Today, if all is go, the team will fly 4 1/2 hours to Union Glacier, Antarctica! UPDATE- THE TEAM HAS FLOWN TO UNION GLACIER!!
CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO HEAR A VOICE MESSAGE FROM ROB FROM UNION GLACIER. It will download, and then open it to play (it plays in iTunes).
Barney’s Blog 1- From Union Glacier.
We embrace the last moments of darkness before the sun erupts from the “land of fire” to the East.
Our dear friend Alejo, bids us farewell between street dogs, and blooming lupins.
Others from around the world, share excitement as we embark onto the mighty Ilyushsin aircraft.
Bound between cargo, hanging cords, and a seasoned Ukrainian crew, we say goodbye to green hills.
Roaring off into a thick rainstorm, Patagonia disappears quickly behind us in a flash of grey.
4 and half hours later, the door opens to reveal a land not of concrete and buildings.
Rather a world governed by ice, wind, and rock confronts us in a moody state.
My breath turning to ice on my beard reminds me of the cold and rawness to come.
As the weather starts to lift, uplifting news arrives from basecamp in Punta.
Our NASA icemelters and solar sleds will be arriving much earlier then expected after a brutal customs battle.
Skis crossed in a line, food accounted for, and solar panels already charging are various devices.
Day 1 of a jounrey into the heart of this great contient that know holds our every moment.
I am beyond greatful to everyone who has believd in us.
Thank you from the Down Down under.
·November 21, 2017 Update: Today at 15:30 GMT, The SPEC Expedition departed from Union Glacier by ski equipped aircraft and landed at their start point on the coast of Antarctica. The message from Robert Swan is that there was a break in the weather and they decided to take advantage of it. They will ski for a few hours today, then set up camp. All are well and excited to truly get the journey started.
Barney’s Blog 2- November 20th
The past two days have been a full attack.
From finalizing our food into 60 separate bundles, packing our sleds, and testing as much tech as possible, time seems to be slipping past very quickly.
Twenty-four hour daylight definitely helps to confuse the linear perspective of viewing time.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner have been opportunities to take a step back from our busy schedule of planning.
Getting to know all of the fellow expeditioners at base-camp has been centered on these meal times.
Alpine skiers from Austria, Climbers from New Zealand, kiters, and soloists alike stuffed around crammed tables.
Whether a seasoned legend, or simply a curious mind driven south, it’s remarkable to see the diversity of humans around us.
So many people have shared advice regarding solar panels, connectors, electricity flow, and battery capacity.
Without these small bits of guidance, our challenge would be much harder.
Good news, we saw steam rise from our ice melters today for the first time.
Moment by moment we are getting closer to departing into the white with nothing but our sleds and each other.
Additionally, it is cold.
SPEC UPDATE- November 21, 2017
SPEC Expedition Update
We heard from Rob and Barney just now and all is well. They sounded tired but happy. Today after being dropped off, they skied 4km today under wonderful blue skies, with the sun not able to warm the temperatures above minus 15 Celsius! Rob apparently was out front and they had to ask him to slow down! Setting up camp takes a little longer in the beginning with a total of approx. 2 hours before getting something hot to eat. Barney ate Patagonia Lentils with salmon and Rob had Mac and Cheese.
SPEC Expedition Update – Message from Robert Swan-November 22, 2017
Day 2 on this long Antarctica journey and we are slowly….very slowly settling into our daily routine. We covered 6km today and it was tough. The weather Gods were not as favorable as yesterday and we awoke to overcast skies and temperatures warming up to only minus 16 °C.
Without the sun snow travel and skiing is extremely difficult. Better known as whiteout conditions; when visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow and the horizon disappears completely. There are no reference points and this totally distorts your orientation.
The snow on today’s path was deeper than we experienced yesterday and therefore made travel arduous and slow but we stopped a couple of times for tea and had a good laugh about our day.
I am delighted to say that the technology we brought with us is working well. Barney and I were able to have all our drinking water today from the NASA snow melters, so no need to use fuel to melt additional snow. The passive snow melters, as may be expected, were struggling to keep up today with the lack of sun.
We are safely now in camp with the wind picking up and expecting some poor weather to come through. Hopefully it will have passed by the morning. Looking forward to a hot meal and a warm sleeping bag.
Wishing all our US friends and partners a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.
Voice message 2 from Robert Swan- November 22, 2017
Click the link below-Storytelling
SPEC Expedition Update: A Message From Robert Swan-
November 23, 2017
The sun was visible a few times today to remind us that Mother Nature is in control. No wind but still the thick, soft snow that slows the sled and makes pulling so much harder on the body was our path South. We covered 8km and it took almost 8 hours skiing.
Today was hard on me, I have to be honest… I think of 61 years young and it never concerned me before. Here I am, skiing uphill from 8,000ft with a temperature of -16°C pulling 90 kg behind me.
When I dreamt of this journey over the last 5 years, I worried about my knees, hips and even my stamina. Today it’s more psychological for me. I have been here before….pulling the same weight, in the same snow and heading south. I stop for tea and think…..nothing is different yet so much has changed. 30 years on from my first Antarctic Expedition, we are using a technology that I would not have believed would have been available to anyone except perhaps in a sci-fi movie. Shell researchers and scientists created a fuel from wood chips that functions as well as and take the place in our Expedition for the fossil fuel we used all those years ago. Amazing…companies do care, they do listen and hopefully thru this Expedition we can encourage more change, more bio fuels, more technology because we MUST…
Barney’s Blog 3- November 23, 2017
Today was something special.
We loaded our sleds and marched onto the glacier for the first time, as a team.
It was a gripping reality to feel the weight on our bodies, the harness digging into our skin.
Being next to Kyle, Martin, and Papa in a line was very inspiring.
I am curious to witness the collective experience, and humor grow between us as time unfurls.
This rapport and shared respect will get us through the hard times which lay ahead.
Whilst the weather today was perfect- blue bird skies and a whisper of wind.
It is intimidating to think how exposed we will be out there to the wind and elements.
Away from ALE’s basecamp hidden over a rise within the glacier.
Especially on the plateau, the good, the bad, and the damn right insane will be awaiting us.
It was fascinating to share Dads reflections being back here with a fully loaded sled.
The crunching of the snow, the sliding of ice, desolation, and daily systems are ingrained in him.
All of these moments he has experienced sledding have come full circle.
We are making the most of cooked meals, pitched tents, and diversity of humans.
Soon it will be just the four of us, and ice.
23 November- Day 3 on SPEC
The sun was visible a few times today to remind us that the Mather Nature is in control. No wind but still the thick, soft snow that slows the sled and makes pulling so much harder on the body was our path south. We covered 8km and it took almost 8 hours skiing.
Barney’s Voice Message- Day 3 November 23, 2017
SPEC Expedition Team Update – Day 4 November 24, 2017
I hope all our friends and partners in the USA had a fun Thanksgiving yesterday and were able to spend quality time with their families and friends. I did the same… spending the day with Barney though the evening meal was not quite as grand as I imagine that enjoyed by friends back home. However, I must say that the dehydrated food provide by Patagonia is so much better than we ate 30 years ago. Today we ate Wild Pink Salmon with rice. Excellent. We chose Patagonia because they believe that food can and should be a part of the solution to the environmental crisis – grown, harvested and produced in ways that restore our land, water and wildlife.
We skied an incredible and enthusiastic 9.1 nautical miles today. The snow is still heavy but not as much as the previous days. Now that the wind picked up a little the temperature with wind chill dropped to -20° C, so walking into a permanent head wind. I feel much more comfortable with the clothing now and have a system in place to get dressed and undressed quickly when we stop at the end of the day or start in the morning. Layers, layers layers my old friend Jumper would say!
Stay with us throughout this journey…thankfully our data partner and friends at Commvault are ensuring all the images and messages from the SPEC team in Antarctica are safe and then shared with all on our website and social media.
Have a great evening….stay warm!
Voice Message from Robert- Day 4 November 24, 2017
SPEC Expedition Update – Day 5 November 25, 2017
The team skied 9.86 nautical miles today and are camping at 82° 51’ S, 67° 35W. Temperature is a little warmer at -14°C with wind dropping it to -19°C. Today they changed tents. Rob will bunk with Martin and Barney moved in with Kyle! Rob is still slow, but steady. He gets into camp about 30 minutes after the team. Though he believes they have done great mileage to date and is proud of the team.
The team is having trouble with atmospherics today. So they will send a voicemail and picture as soon as possible.
We will post once we receive.
SPEC Expedition Update – Day 6- November 26, 2017
We woke this morning with a storm brewing to the south. When I opened the tent flap to look outside the Western Mountaineering sleeping bag beckons me …stay, but we need to keep the pace up if we want to reach the South Pole. Also, the less cooperative the weather, the more testing of our technology we can achieve. The day is ‘white’ and the storm moves in quickly leaving just a thin blue line on the horizon to remind us there are other colours out there.
So I grab the bio fuel provided by Shell and start the stove, get the water to boiling then decide where to begin…tea?, coffee or maybe oatmeal. This precious liquid made from wood chips will warm our bodies, feed our stomachs and our souls.
I take a moment and recall my visit to the Shell research plant in Bangalore India; there I felt the enthusiasm and hope for the future. These incredible scientists and researchers working so hard, believing so unconditionally, that what they were doing would be part of the solution in reducing the amount of fossil fuel we use each year.
I have to say that the reality is, we won’t/can’t change from fossil fuels to renewable energy overnight. Just not possible with the needs and wants of humanity. I anticipate it will be a 50 year shift at least, but we have to get this transition started, working with individuals, industry and governments to increase the flow of change. And so, there on the faces and in the laboratories of this incredible Shell plant in Bangalore was change….now my tea tastes so much better.
It is taking us about 2 hrs. from waking to departure in the morning so I move a little faster. We skied over 8 hours today and covered 9.91 nautical miles. Almost at 10 nautical miles a day. That is our current goal. We are all well, eternally grateful to our supporters and partners and will check back in tomorrow.
Voice Message from Barney Swan- Day 6- November 26, 2017
SPEC Expedition Update – End of Day 7 by Ourselves- November 27, 2017
Has it only been one week? This morning we woke to white out conditions. Navigating was a challenge but the horizon still had some blue that showed the way south. Without that blue, up, down, sideways all looked the same.
It has been a challenge to get 10 nautical miles average. The past three days have been all bouncing around 9 nautical miles each day. We have had a lot of time in our own worlds over these miles. A bubble of white and blur in all directions. Nothing but ice, shadow, and clouds for reference. The tempo of skis, breath, and music can make the time go quickly… or sometimes very slowly!
Lots of great humour bouncing between the team. Laughter for sure lights up everyone’s day when it bursts through the crispy air. Thank the ALE base camp at Union Glacier, they are always making sure we are healthy and have not fallen into any icy tombs. The daily check in with them does wonders for dad’s sanity.
Still cannot believe what it would have been like to embark on the Footsteps of Scott with no radio or “connection” to anyone. Only now, being out here for meager week do I somewhat know what that means.
November 27th, 2017
Robert Swan has answered a question asked by Theo, from TASIS England American School. Theo is 10 years old, and he is a member of the school’s Roots & Shoots Club. His father will be joining Robert Swan on the last degree of this expedition, which is the last 60 miles to the South Pole. Theo’s question was, “How hard was it to train for this life threatening experience?” Click on the link below to hear the answer!
SPEC Expedition Update – Day 8, November 28th, 2017
I have come to realize that I don’t miss all the “noise” from the outside world. I am slower than the others, which is not a bad thing, if I am 30 minutes behind the others, then then camp is set up and the hot water ready for tea…sssh…don’t tell anyone!. The incredible thing about being alone here is the silence….unbelievable silence. When I stop for some water while skiing I can hear a snowflake hit the ground. Is that madness? Antarctica is truly the most majestic place on earth. This is absolutely Mother Nature at her finest.
32 years ago, on day 8, I skied only 3.01 nautical miles. It was a blizzard that day, could not see anything, but we were young and fit enough to take advantage of the whiteout conditions and stay in our sleeping bags. This time, I need all the miles I can make in a day if we want to reach the South Pole in a timely manner. Today, with another overcast day, and the wind stronger than before I managed to travel 9.88 nautical miles in just under 9 hours. It gets a little faster each day but it is all uphill all the way to the Geographic South Pole.
I need to remember, this is not a race, there is nothing to prove. I am here on a mission to test technology and bio fuels that are currently available. If they can work here, in this inhospitable and remote land, then surely they will work at home; in your home.
The advanced bio fuels we have with us, were produced by the Shell technology center in Bangalore India. We are relying on them to melt snow, heat water and dry clothes in the tents. It has proven to be much more efficient than I first anticipated. They were developed solely for this Expedition using a technology that turns solid waste into a biofuel. So they turned wood chips into this biofuel. Could this be another step in the energy –mix as we transition away from fossil fuels and into clean energy? I hope so….every effort counts. Thanks to Shell and all those determined souls who made this happen.
Journey on…..Robert Swan
SPEC Team Expedition Update – Day 9- November 29th, 2017
Another overcast day with walloping winds, knocking over the sleds and us, as we try to force our way forward. The sastrugi is higher now and without contrast you can fall over or trip before you have time to notice. We were tired when we returned to the tent and as you can see from the picture….a shower is already long overdue!
It is uphill and into wind to the South Pole, but I am not sure I fully comprehended that before now. This might be the hardest thing I have ever done. Not just the skiing, cold and wind, but no distractions. No phone, social media, TV, friends. I can’t jump in the car and go for a drive. These days make me think a lot about “my world” and how I live in it. Both environmentally and psychologically. I am out front leading the way and I have 9 hours just to think….can you imagine that? Just thinking for 9 hours solid. About everything and anything.
Today, I was thinking about our friends in South Korea. We have partners with Hooxi Water and the W Foundation. When I first met Chairman Wook Lee and President Kyung Keun Hong, I was so impressed at all the incredible initiatives they were working on to engage and inspire the younger generation in Korea about conservation. They have celebration and rallies. They work in school and universities. They engage with the government and industry, knowing that as a team they can create an incredible wave of change and that is what is happening in South Korea. Sadly, I don’t speak the language but I have on my playlist a copy of a song they created called Beautiful World…. enjoy
So if we can do our part by raising awareness about the use of more clean energy on this Expedition, and work with the W Foundation and all our partners as a team then maybe we can keep our….Beautiful World….
SPEC Expedition Team Update – Day 10 November 30th, 2017
Truly knackered after a long day of wind. Coldest day 100%. Serious climb over glacier buckle, provided some solid hold ups with the sleds. Powder and snow mix made for hard skiing. Everyone is well fed and ready for an early night.
Disconnect to reconnect has always seemed such a clichéd statement. However recently it seems, without access to either fresh information or sensory contrast outside of our white bubble- we are slowly feeling more at home out here. Disconnecting more day by day from the fact paced ‘real world’.
The news, geopolitics, and social media are growing increasingly distant. With that distance, comes a peace. The internet holds such weight over my day to day life. Emails, phone calls, and the occasional Cat video compile to a fairly large mental weight.
The potential conflict with North Korea, issues of racism, global refugees- so many of these large scale problems have lost their reference.
The longer I spend out here it is teaching me not to get caught up with the bigger picture. Focus on what you can control. Put your energy towards optimistic solutions. While ignorance is not an option, our hyper connected world of information and instant access can draw us, subtly, away from the important things right in front us.
Use technology, do not be used by it.
VOICE MESSAGE Day 10 Robert- December 1, 2017
SPEC Team Expedition Update – Day 11
I am sure we are skiing backwards! Today the sun was out but the wind blew at 35 knots with gusts up to 45 knots. In 9 hours we covered 8nm. It was slow but the biggest problem was the sastrugi. Heading into the blizzard we can’t see clearly where we are going. If there is sastrugi and it is higher than your knee, then you either trip and fall over, or safely get thru it then the sled comes rollicking from behind and hits you in the leg. I think my sled caught me at least 20 times today. The language from the team was not pretty, but we did laugh. What else is there to do?
We have what is called 6 “marches a day”. Each “march” is about 75 minutes. Then we stop for a break. The break is about 15 minutes, then march 2 begins. I can tell you how much I think about the breaks (when my sled is not knocking me down).
My favourite chocolate bars were sent from CSM bakery solutions. I have worked closed with them in the past but the effort and love that they put into these incredible tasting bars, makes it the thing I look most forward to each day. In keeping with our thesis of using renewable energy, CSM bakery produced the bars using an ingredient that before 2015 was a waste stream of coffee. This material was dumped in rivers or left to rot on the land near growers. Thankfully this food worthy plant material is now being processed to create economic value for farmers and food producers and the excellent nutritional value once wasted is now part of our food supply. Michael Hesler’s team at CSM worked tirelessly to get the ingredients, the calorific value and the taste perfect….and that they did. Thanks to them I am not losing any weight on this expedition! Is it snack time?
SPEC Expedition Team Update – Day 12
Today we had a later start…this was incredible. Today the skies were blue again, but Mother Nature continues to test us. The wind was blowing at about 15 knots but the gusts were measured as high as 45 knts. With temperatures already at minus 20°C, the gusts drop the temperature down to minus 30° C. It is hard to predict when those gusts will strike but they were on our faces all day and blowing snow around to ensure travel was a difficult as possible. We measure our travel distance today to be 9nm. We cannot seem to complete the magical 10 nm yet. But we are pushing to do so,.
I thought a lot today about our mission and why we are here. I am so impressed and delighted that the technology we chose to bring on this expedition has proved invaluable. The snow melter designed by NASA and then adapted by the Checkerspot team, Kurt and Charlie are powered by the solar “tent” on each of the sleds. The solar panels work all day to generate the energy and though a series of cables they warm 4 thermos flasks and met the snow to a liquid by the time we reach our evening camp.
We then use the advanced bio fuels created by the Shell laboratories to take the temp of the water to boiling for food and drinks. The heat from the stove additionally warms the tent and dries any clothes from the trekking day. Where I am now. Tucked up in my sleeping bag and writing to you about our day…..tomorrow is almost here.
Barney’s Voice Message- Click below- Day 12
Day 13 – SPEC Expedition Team Update
These past three days have challenged all of us. At its worst 40 knot gusts blew straight into our faces. Ice coating everything our breath comes in contact with. Having bare skin exposed even for a few minutes brings numbing and pain. Layers Layer Layers…
The gear is holding up strong against the challenge. The icemelter is still working well in overcast conditions despite slightly down in efficiency today. Biofuels are bringing a warm comfort to an ice soaked tent in the mornings. Finished another CSM 1000 calorie bar in our 10 minute break today- eating far more than I had expected which is a good sign. Put on weight instead of losing- it will be useful for the many miles ahead.
Although every part of me was aching and stiff, it was a delight to hear Martin saying we covered 10.11 Nautical miles today. A hooray was shared between the tents as the wind howled on.
Robert’s Voice Message- Day 13
Kyle Here – Day 14 of SPEC
Kyle Here…….Today you get to hear a little from me. What an experience to be on this expedition. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world as a videographer and settled with my wife in Norway. However, Antarctica has a magnetic quality that pulls me back time and time again. So, when Robert asked me to join him and Barney on this epic journey, several years ago, it was an instant “YES”.
However, now as a married man, I have to say I am eternally grateful to my beautiful and supportive wife Marthe who encouraged me to participate.
Following our impressive day of 10.1nm yesterday we exceeded our expectations and travelled 10.3nm today! It is amazing how in this quiet wonderland these small feats are perceived as enormous. We still had the wind in our faces this morning but by the afternoon it had dropped to about 10knts which was well received by all of us. The temperature is still bearable at minus 17 °C and we have to thank the Patagonia clothing for keeping us warm and dry.
After 14 days seeing nothing but the vast whiteness of Antarctica, today we saw far in the distance mountains. It is extraordinary to see something in the distance and very exciting. It was the topic of conversation all day. As we have exhausted, family, politics and life! We are about 23 nm from our first cache and it is helpful to have these distance goals.
Otherwise we are all well, enjoying the food and thankful to all those that have supported us. I personally, am extremely thankful to Commvault for being our data safety and security support. As a videographer it is crucially important to know that all the work you have done to create images and videos will be safe and secure. You should see the relief on my face each evening, when I see the message “your data has been sent” on my computer. On these cold, windy and exhausting days with enormous effort to capture the footage I would not be confident it will be safe in the temperatures, on my computer for the entire journey. So after “sending” it to Commvault via satellite, I sleep soooo much better.
Speaking of which….. goodnight all and thanks for following us…
Kyle’s Voice Message- Day 14. Click the link below.
06 Dec On Another Planet – Day 15 of SPEC
Today started off well with little wind…though it started picking up before our first break. By the time we reached lunch it was back to 35 knots on the nose. Our speed drops and we covered only 9.6nm today.
I think back to my Footsteps of Scott Expedition and don’t remember there to be such a focus on how many miles we covered each day. I suppose more than 30 years ago my memory is a little clouded and as we were the first to complete such a journey in Antarctica there were no milestones in place. We were I suppose the “pioneers” of modern Antarctic Expeditions.
We are having technical problems with the phone today so no voice message I am afraid but hopefully we will get it up and running before tomorrow. I miss making the calls. It sometimes feels as though we are on another planet…so far away, so remote and sometimes so hostile. This is why we chose Antarctica for the South Pole Energy Challenge. If the technology can work here….then why not anywhere else in the world.
07 Dec Almost Friendly Weather – Day 16 of SPEC
With no wind today, this icy continent appeared almost friendly. The Team were jolly, making jokes and acting as though Christmas had come early.
The snow conditions are still rough though with patches of high sastrugi slowing us down and yes….that sled still hitting me from behind several times a day! Still we covered 9.1nm today. I am still well behind but proud of my progress.
To our left, we could see the Pensacola Mountains – which were originally connected to the Ventana Mountains near Bahía Blanca in Argentina, Cape Fold Belt in South Africa, the Ellsworth Mountains (West Antarctica) and the Hunter-Bowen orogeny in eastern Australia. Yes, once this land was all connected. Seeing the mountains as we passed felt like a mirage. Every day has just been white and flat. We had the drone out today and captured the attached image. What an incredibly different perspective a drone can provide.
I think of Antarctica and how much we don’t always remember about this incredible continent;
- It is 1.5 times the size of the USA
- 90% of Antarctica is covered in ice
- The ice is one mile thick in places – (at the South Pole)
- 70% of the earth’s fresh water is in Antarctica
- If we melt all of the ice in Antarctica the oceans would rise by about 60 meters.
- But not all of it is wet – The Dry Valleys, Antarctica is the driest place on earth.
So why save it…. Take a look at my TEDX talk from 2014 and hopefully you will support what we are trying to achieve… (You can view this on the Preservation page of this website)
More tomorrow, Rob-
Voice Message from Rob- Day 16
08 Dec A Later Start Today – Day 17 of SPEC
We took a shorter day today… thought we might deserve a little later start and sometime to talk as a group, repair equipment, refine some of the technology and discuss the next week or so oftravel. It was wonderful…..
Yesterday was the first night in over a week that it has not been windy. The option to sit outside after dinner was a delight tonight. We have been seeing mountains to the west, The Pensacola’s, for the past couple of days. They are a reminder of Our half way point- Theil Mountains. About 8 days or so away at our current pace.
Learning endless amounts from the team. There has not been a single moment of tension between us- super grateful to be surrounded by such fine gentleman. Many lessons of patience have already been learnt by me.
Helping Dad with yoga a lot recently- he is having a harder time recovering then in his whippersnapper days. Stretching twice daily has become vital. Many golden moments shared between us in flapping tents, and jacket hoods. We are keeping up maintenance on both ourselves and equipment. This place finds weakness. Lots of modifications have kept us busy between routines. Some minor blisters, and wind/sun damage have been a reminder to keep 100% protected in heavy winds.
Funny to think of Christmas decorations going up around the world. Whilst the days grow shorter up North and the festive season glows, the never setting sun slowly drifts higher down here.
Thinking a lot about the body of Ocean that circles us. The hundreds of kilometers of Ice we have covered is slowly on its way to that 71% of our planet. This ice cube we are currently sleeping on has the potential to change so much. Extremely motivated to continue in our mission to protect our climate from going south… excuse the pun.
Our mission to keep the ice IN Antarctica was further supported by the W–Foundation and HOOXI water from Korea. HOOXI Water which supports W-Foundation, continually, funds nature conservation projects all over the world. Hooxi water is gathered from an artesian source, hidden deep in the rainforest of Viti Levu Island. It is considered, the purest water on earth, HOOXI water is nature’s greatest gift from the pristine island of Fiji. All profit from HOOXI Water is re invested into HOOXI campaign projects.
Wook Lee the Chairman and Mr. Hung, the President are great friends of Dad and I. We were aware of their incredible efforts over the last few years to preserve and restore the natural environment and ecosystems (by constructing forests, restoring coral reefs, supporting endangered animals, etc.) around the world, not just in Korea, through W-Foundation. After a short meeting it was clear that we should be working together as a team to engage and inspire more people to support conservation at home, within organizations and in the countries. Thankfully they agreed and as part of this South Pole Energy Challenge Expedition, HOOXI Water and 2041 Foundation are partners. We are honored…..
In an effort to reach young people they create music videos each year, about the environment. See a few below;
Thank you for reading. Make the most of the rest of the day!!! And your shower….
VOICE MESSAGE- A Later Start Today- From Barney, Day 17, Click the link below.
09 Dec Martin’s Birthday – Day 18 of SPEC
The sun was out today for Martin’s birthday. He is such an incredible human being. He is originally from North Wales, in the UK but moved with his family to Colorado. He leaves a little 3 month old son Elliot at home, to come here for 60 days and support Dad and I. Truly impressive. Over the past 16 years, he has been leading expeditions all over the world and a side bar (ha-ha) …has climbed all 7 summits (the highest peak on each of the seven continents)
When home, he is usually found rock or ice climbing at weekends or enjoying time on a mountain bike. He currently teaches courses in rope Access, Tower Climbing/Fall Protection, PPE and several other types of rescue techniques. During his time in the USA, he has volunteered as a firefighter for 3 years and spent the last 4 years volunteering in SAR Alpine Rescue Team. Safety is very important to Martin and he has a passion for protecting the landscapes he continues to share and explore.
Today, the snow is soft and powdery due to the high temperature of -15° C. We were slower today. I think the later start, shorter day and a lot more food yesterday was the culprit.
Dad, in particular was lagging behind. I am so proud of him taking on this expedition at 61 years of age!! I know the stress and effort on my young 23 year old body. So while you are sitting down to a hot meal and relaxing in front of the TV…. He has another 350nm to ski to the South Pole. He is young at heart and fit but there comes a time (I imagine) when your body just takes longer to get things done. He is sleeping here in the tent now. Though I am not sure how as he snores like a freight train! He is trying hard to keep up with us during the day, but we must keep moving or frostbite will set in.
Our water and food breaks are about 15 mins each and very quickly I start to get cold, then freeze before even 10 minutes of stopping. So Dad understands we are must keep going. We continually check on him and he does have the luxury of arriving into camp about 30 minutes behind us and everything is set up and the water boiling and ready to add to the dehydrated food. Mmmm maybe there is a pattern here…ha-ha
In the western hemisphere, you will be enjoying shorter days. When dusk starts around 6pm. We have the luxury of 24 hours of daylight which confuses the body clock as to when we sleep and when we rise. At the South Pole they have 6 months of 24 hours daylight. Then one day to the next they have 6 months of 24 hours of darkness…wow that has to be seen.
Well, I will climb into my sleeping bag and eat some hot food and get my body some down time until tomorrow.
Voice Message from Martin- Day 18 SPEC, Martin’s Birthday. Click link below:
10 Dec Marching Nonstop – Day 19 of SPECWe have been marching daily for almost three weeks straight. Aside from a two hour sleep in and a couple of extra hours a few afternoons ago- it has been nonstop.
Celebrating Martin’s birthday yesterday marked a day to remember! Aside from that and a few other specific moments- referencing time seems to be getting harder as the journey thickens. A one hour march can sometimes feel like half a day, then a week just compounded out of nowhere. Paying attention to the weather has been a way to maintain lineage- embracing storm and cloud as they pass between a clear blue sky.
Pressure spots in boots, wind blisters, and general aching has been wearing us in. Stretching, eating, rest, and being proactive has been key to keep on top of everything.
The longer we are out here, the more grateful I feel for all the support that has made this journey possible. Specifically excited to be working with the W-Foundation in South Korea. All their impact concerning conservation, water projects, and climate change is super inspiring. Thank you for believing in us. Both dad and I are motivated to work together within these coming years to invoke action and responsibly for our fragile planet.
So many people have made this dream a reality I could keep writing all day to thank you all- please know you everyone is following us over this rather large chunk of Ice. The amount of time to think whilst marching insures no one has been forgotten!!!
Not sure what day it is…
Better get to sleep!
Voice Message, Rob- Marching Nonstop- Day 19 SPEC Click the link below to hear the message:
11 Dec Crevasses in the Distance – Day 20 of SPEC
Today we floated yet again through this crazy landscape of ice and sky which now seems so familiar. We’ve all become snow and ice experts and have learned to read which textures glide well and where you are likely to break through the surface stopping both you and the sled.
We are in a crevasse area at the moment so more conscious of where we are and our bearing of 170° has to be very accurate.. We can see enormous crevasses in the distance. They are about 20m wide. In the area we are walking you can feel the soft ice move under your feet then a huge whooshing sound. Very intimidating and then there are a few steps which are solid, then out of the blue….whoosh.
Due to this terrain, we slowed the pace to ensure safety and walked in tandem. With the wind still and frankly un-Antarctic day with a max temp of only -11° C . Still we were able to travel 9.66nm today. In about 6 days we will be alongside the Theil Mountains. With a height of 9,200 ft. and the range being 45 miles long, I am sure we will see them well in advance of our arrival.
With no wind and full sun today, we took off our masks at lunch to soak up some rays and decided a selfie was a good idea. Hope you enjoy it. We know however that this weather will not last as wind is the norm here. We hope you all also had a lazy Sunday. Best wishes from the Spec team.
Voice Message from Rob- Day 20 SPEC. Click below to listen:
12 Dec Learning from Dad – Day 21 of SPEC
10:47 miles felt like a long way today. High winds and lenticular clouds came out of nowhere in the early afternoon. Blasting straight down our jackets and into our faces.
Making snippets of conversation between skiing and snack breaks livens up the mood. Kyle and Martin have great humor, which always warm up a cold moment. I am truly grateful to be sharing the journey with such incredible people.
It is odd in one way to be here with my Dad. I have to say I did not know what to expect. We get along well in normal living conditions but one of us is always on the move. Sleeping in a tent 5ft x 8ft though is a very different animal. We have our moments when something bothers one of us or it has been a long day and someone is restless at night while you try to sleep.
But taking all that into consideration I feel I have been learning so much from Dad recently. In our busy life there never seems to be those quiet moments where we justkick off our shoes and have a long conversation. The phone rings, the email buzzes or there is much to do. Now, I am learning in depth about his past, his ideas on leadership, and epic polar tales from the beginning of last century. How can I have shared so much space with this human being for the last 23 years and not know all this?? Time to put the devices down people and talk to your parents. Maybe they will be cooler than you thought!
These past few days have been no easy task for Dad to keep up the pace. He is tough as nails though- hands feel like sandpaper, stubborn as a mule to always keep going. Come from the old British stock of “stiff upper lip”…just grin and bear it with no complaining. But I can tell, this place is wearing him in, as it is all of us. But with one foot in front of another- tomorrow we march once more.
Respect from way down south……….
Voice Message-Learning From Dad- Day 21 Spec. Click below to listen:
13 Dec Nearing the Thiel Mountains – Day 22 of SPEC
We are nearing Thiel Mountains and can see them far in the distance on our right side. Today we skied 10.3nm. An epic day for all of us but for Dad in particular. He really dug deep into his being to make this distance and not complain. I could tell it was hard, but he said nothing. Little wind and almost perfect weather for skiing today. And looking forward to a rest day when we reach Thiel Mountains in a few days.
When I think about it, it is bizarre. 22 days of nothing….just white, no trees, no animals, no color, no sound and no distractions.
We start the morning quiet and slowly get ready for the day ahead. A large assortment of clothing to put on, gear to prepare and the entre camp to pack up and secure tightly on the sled. It is much of a routine now this many days along and we all finish it in good time.
Then as we get moving we start to chat, share stories, discuss issues. Almost like an orchestra leading up to a crescendo and then slowly we organically forms a line and then ski settling back into silence, until our first break about 2 hours into the journey.
The ski interval is my thinking time. How can I have this much to think about? Where was all this thinking when I was home with my friends, devices, life and the chaos it all brings to me? I really wonder. The weird part is I really enjoy this time, look forward to it and ponder where my mind will go today? Will I solve all the world’s problems, invent a new technology to support the energy mix for the future or try and figure out who I am and what is my life’s purpose. I challenge everyone to try this thinking thing….
No matter, I am happy. Here with a wonderful group of people, learning so many things about my father that I probably would never have asked or known had we not taken this crazy adventure. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…
Voice Message- Nearing the Thiel Mountains- Day 22 SPEC. Click below to listen:
14 Dec Half Way – Day 23 of SPEC
We have reached Thiel Mountains late this evening. We are half way to the South Pole. It is a great feeling, to know that we have reached this milestone. We travelled 8.8 nm today with some additional stops to test and record some of the information on the technical equipment we are proving along the way. The weather Gods have been on our side these last 2 days and we are eternally grateful. Another day with little wind and blue skies. This is the Antarctic I love. We are still in an area with crevasses so moving slower than normal, just in case.
The Shell bio fuel has been very successful. There were concerns that it might block the fuel lines to the stove, or parts of the cooking stove itself. Neither has been true. It burns clean, not as warm as fossil fuels but the trade is more than worth it. We are using the same amount that we had calculated if we were using white gas. Therefore the burn rate is about the same. I think of a day in the not too distant future when we can use water products for our energy. Is it really so far away?
The snow melters have really changed polar travel. On previous journeys it would take a while to get into the tent, get all the sleds unpacked, then start melting snow for dinner and drinks. Being able to melt the snow in the melters powered by the solar panels as we travel, is an enormous step forward. I am so excited by this product. We are able to eat sooner and save much fuel by only having to heat the water and not melt the snow first.
Change is coming and hopefully we are doing our small part to expedite that change. Now to dinner….
15 Dec The First “Down Day” – Day 24 of SPEC
The intention was to edit, categorize and upload all images and videos of the trek so far. Technology was not on our side and neither were the atmospherics. We were not able to make it happen today. With the help of Ross however, back in the UK we persevered and hopefully when the system reboots overnight we will be able to complete the task tomorrow.
We spent the day unpacking and repacking the sleds. Repairing equipment, clothing and tech gear. Looking at methods to make some of it more efficient and effective. Eating and relaxing in the tent and discussing the journey ahead and how our days will look as we complete he final 300 nm. Blister were treated as was some minor frost nip and some cuts and bruises….remember the sled hitting exercises we were working a few days ago??
With a little more time available we had a group dinner and ate probably more than our rations would allow! It was like Christmas in the tent….
As family and friend at home prepare for the festive season we will miss you, but think of you all, and are eternally grateful for the support we have had on this journey.
Rest Day- Voice Message from Kyle- Day 24 Spec. Click the link below to listen:
16 Dec Somewhere in Antarctica – Day 25 Of SPEC
This way point represents close to halfway. The team was far more tired than we thought after the past non-stop 25 days. There is nothing here but a small ice runway with some flags, buried resupply deposits, barrels of fuel, weather equipment, a snow cat, and a blue box.
After a well-deserved sleep in, we spent the day reviewing our logistics, sending out video and images, and equipment adjustments. Kyle has been working like a madman to organize the content we have captured over these past weeks. A big thanks sent to him because dealing with folders and files is not easy going when there are a million other things to do- at subzero temperatures.
It is a hard conversation to consider, but we are determining if it is possible to make the deadline for getting to the South Pole. Whilst Papa has put up sterling effort over the past 300 nautical miles, the remaining journey is going to require a strike average mileage. We only have so much food, and recovery days will not be possible at our current pace.
Lots of conversations and options to consider. Our plan is to spend tomorrow finalizing all of these details before moving up the hill towards the plateau. A cozy sleeping bag, no skiing, lots of stretching, and the world’s most isolated toilet (The blue box!!) are all welcome. This place saps ones energy so quickly whilst marching! It is relieving to feel some vigor drip back into our bones.
Voice Message, Rob- Somewhere in Antarctica. SPEC Day 25. Click the link below to listen:
17 Dec Barney Selfie-Day 26 of SPEC
Lots of long discussions today about logistics, distance and the time we have remaining. We must increase our the number of nautical miles we travel each day, starting tomorrow in order to reach the South Pole before the close of the Antarctic season. With just over 300nm to go it is a daunting task ahead. I am slow, I recognize that and still fatigued from the travel already completed. My body has not recovered as well as I had hoped but my only concern is that I don’t slow the others down. This weighs heavy with me tonight. We must make good time and I hope I can keep pace. Off now for an early start tomorrow early.
Voice Message- Day 26 SPEC. Click on the link below to listen:
Latest developments for the South Pole Energy Challenge
The South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC) team has achieved a major milestone in their expedition. Despite grueling conditions, including extreme winds and freezing temperatures they’ve reached the half way point. After Wednesday, December 20th – the longest day of the year – the team will begin to lose sunlight leading to extreme cold. However, the team’s pace of just less than 10 nautical miles per day is behind the needed pace to remain on schedule.
Under these circumstances, world renowned explorer Robert Swan has decided to return to Base Camp at Union Glacier to allow the team to move along at a faster pace and reach the South Pole before the season closes and conditions deteriorate further. He will however meet back up with the SPEC team at the 89th parallel to complete the last 60 miles of the expedition to arrive at the Geographic South Pole
Robert is in good health and has shown incredible mental and physical fitness to reach the halfway point. He is proud of what the group has achieved together but is ever-focused that this expedition is not about him or any one man – it is about the overall mission. Robert will continue to play a lead role in the expedition and is determined to ensure that the rest of the team, together with his son Barney, complete this historic challenge. They’re doing it to raise awareness of the need for more and cleaner energy, and continue the legacy set by Robert.
SPEC- Day 29 Kyle, Barney, and Martin
Travelled 10.75 nm today/ It may not seem too much but it was a really strenuous day. It’s all uphill now and dragging this heavy sled behind really take a toll on the muscles. . We will continue to climb uphill another 1500 meters as we rise to reach the Polar Plateau. Then it will be more of an incline, but we will be dealing with altitude then as well. Thankfully it was a beautiful sunny day with a 10knot wind blowing down from the plateau so not too bad a day.
We are eating well, sleeping well and excited for the remaining 300nm that we will cover to the South Pole. We are missing Robert but now we have a little more space…sorry Rob. To date we have shared 2 x 2-man tents. Revolving every few days but always sharing. Now with one more space available it’s a treat. We are calling the tent with only one person “the Batchelor tent” and we draw straws to see who gets it. It’s amazing that in our small world inside this enormous continent the little things that make you happy…like 2 more feet of space in a tent, less snow to melt and perhaps more food per day!!…again we miss you Rob!
We are reducing the sleds by about 1.5kg/day. This is the food that we consume over 2/3 meals. You can feel the difference the next day…or maybe it’s psychosomatic. It will make a big difference in these coming days as we climb and drag the sleds behind us.
Rob and Barney made some great choices with the technology. I have been really impressed by how much fuel we have saved using the bio fuel and how much less we are using with the solar panels connected to the sleds. This will make future travel so much more efficient and with less impact. Which is always about for guides.
That’s why I am so proud to be the navigator on this Expedition. They are really working hard to make a difference and I hope all their efforts will impact so many more lives for a bigger shift in how we are working in unison with this planet.
Voice Message- Day 29 SPEC, Martin and Barney Heading into the Upward Slope. Click below to listen:
Day 30- SPEC
An incredible 14.4 nm covered today. We are all tired but feeling really proud of the journey so far. We have now been skiing for 30 days. It is hard to believe. Some of us have lost a little weight and some gain as well. We are all however, much stronger in mind and body.
Once camp is set up, dinner consumed there is not much energy left for anything. We miss having news of home and what is happening in the outside world. We could easily be on another planet. We are working well as a team and sharing the responsibilities of Polar Travel. Where possible I am taking images and video so that we are recording the journey to share with sponsors.
We plan to take December 25th as a day of rest. We will need it by then, but in the meantime….we march onward and upward.
Voice Message from Barney- SPEC Day 30. Hauling uphill. Click below to listen:
SPEC- Day 31 In the Middle of Somewhere.
Whilst technology, communication, and content creation are key parts of this journey, it feels like this expedition is becoming more of a mind/body challenge. All other priorities are fading by the wayside. One step in front of another is all we can focus on during the 9 hours of marching.
Something memorable happened today during our second last march whilst leading. I was focusing on a faint cloud formation on the horizon- trying to keep our bearing straight as possible. No music . A light wind. Overcast conditions cut out any shadows or contours in the ice. It was like moving on a tread mill inside a giant cloud.
It felt like I disappeared for 10 seconds or so. All thoughts, pains, efforts to ski, even my focused breath dropped out. Eyes wide open, skiing in tempo focusing on that one point. It was one of the most stilling moments I have experienced out here. There was a subtle humming that continued for 15 minutes after. My blisters and aching body soon returned to full sensations too!
We ended up covering 12.6 NM today.
14.4 NM yesterday.
This place connects leaves your raw and vulnerable- not always in such calming ways as mentioned above. With no option for anything else but ice, wind, sky, and yourself it leaves a lot of room to think. Without the Welshman and South African for a reference it would be a whole other level. Much respect for the soloists who face this place on their own.
Song of the day on repeat in my head
“I’m not worried at All”
Sending everyone some festive vibes from the middle of somewhere.
Voice Message Day 31 SPEC- Kyle speaking. Click the link below to listen:
23 Dec Ice Selfie – Day 32 Of SPEC
- There are mountains under the ice – In 1958, scientists made a startling discovery under the ice in Antarctica: mountains! The Gamburstev Mountains were discovered when scientists trekking across ice two miles thick suddenly found themselves on thin ice. Beneath the ice they found a mountain range with peaks 9,000 feet high,stretching for 750 miles.
There are 2 ATM’s in Antarctica – Believe it or not, if you need some quick cash at the McMurdo Station – the largest scientific research station on the continent – you’re in luck because Wells Fargo installed two ATMs there in 1998. McMurdo is essentially a small town, with coffee shops, a general store, a post office, etc. This closed micro-economy needs cold hard cash to function properly. Only one of the two machines is operable at any given time, and the trustworthy crew at McMurdo has been trained to repair the machines – swapping parts back and forth if need be.
There is only one insect in Antarctica – Insect lovers living in Antarctica only have one species to observe: Belgica antarctica. This wingless fly is also the continent’s largest terrestrial animal at just 2-6 millimeters long. It’s also quite a trooper: as a larva, it survives the total freezing of its bodily fluids.
Some parts of Antarctica have not seen snow or rain for almost 2 million years! – Talk about a dry spell: there are dry valleys in Antarctica that haven’t experienced precipitation for 2 million years! Sure, 98% of the continent is covered in ice, but this is the driest place on the planet after all. Antarctica is still intensely cold despite the low precipitation, with howling winds contributing to the overall discomfort.
Robert Swan is in the Guinness book of world records as the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. He led a 3 man Expedition to the South Pole arriving on January 11 1986 and 3 years later led an eight man expedition arriving at the North Pole on May 14 1989. So cooool
Day 32 SPEC- Voice Message, Ice Selfie. Click below to listen:
Day 33 SPEC- A Message from Rob at Base Camp!
I am now in base camp and monitioring the SPEC Expedition Team closely. I thought we would take break from the boys today and share some weird information about renewable energy that you may now know. While we are using solar and bio fuels on the South Pole Energy Challenge there are many other interesting ways of creating energy. Here are some from our friends at Green Future……
DAY 33 Voice Message From Rob at Base Camp! Click below to listen to the update on Barney, Kyle, and Martin!
DAY 33 Voice Message from Martin from the Middle of Antarctica! Click below to listen to this SPEC update!
Day 34 SPEC- Message from Anne Kershaw HQ Support
Tonight I thought we would take a moment to remind ourselves WHY…the SPEC Team are skiing across Antarctica. It’s the highest, driest, coldest and windiest place on earth…east of the sun, west of the moon and south of everything else.
Our mission is that we can make a journey, 600 miles, 65 days on skis using only renewable energy. Not just to show the technology but to remind ourselves that renewable energy can save lives, eliminate poverty and create water where there may be none available.
One-third of the food we currently produce in the world is wasted and food insecurity remains a pressing challenge. Surely, it is a paradox that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet 12% of the world population is estimated to be malnourished? Or that sub-Saharan Africa, which experiences food insecurity, could actually meet the minimum annual food requirements of at least 48 million people if after harvest grain losses could be avoided ?
So please know that Team SPEC are fully aware that sustainable energy can greatly help reduce loss and feed the starving around the world. We know that the UN is an old hand when it comes to sustainable energy initiatives and we have taken that initiative to Antarctica. With the support of our incredible sponsors and in particular Shell, Commvault, Judith Neilson and Hooxi Water we have been able to amplify this message and hopefully gain more awareness for the technology that is already available and what can be done to help others in need.
UNEP’s for example invited partners and industry to work together to work to find a better refrigeration solution in 2001. The project partners gave themselves the sole mandate to develop a technology that would serve the purpose, make it freely available to interested manufacturers worldwide, and promote its uptake internationally. They were able to develop a prototype unit utilizing solar chill technology A unique feature of the technology was that the energy of the sun is stored in the ice instead of in batteries. The equipment is powered by renewable energy from the sun collected via photovoltaic solar panels.
There are so many people working to find solutions and at this festive time of year take a moment to think of those we might help and thank those who never give up trying. Thank you….Team SPEC…
Anne K – HQ support
Voice Message Day 34. HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Click below to listen:
Voice Message from Rob. Answering a question from Schwinn at NIST International School Bangkok. Click the link below to listen:
Voice Message from Rob answering a question from Kira, Sayler, and Lacy. Whitehall Middle School, Whitehall, Michigan, Click the link below to listen:
Day 36 SPEC
Hoping everyone is recovering from too much fun and lots of jovial time with family and friends. We send big love to all of our families who afforded us the time to ski to the South Pole, but understand it is for a greater good and for the children we have and those in our future.
We thank all of our supporters big and small for believing in us and the South Pole Energy Challenge mission. We thank all of our followers for sending us your thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement. You have no idea how much they inspire us.
We thank all the schools that are on this journey with us and look forward to speaking to many of you on our return. And to teacher Wendy Gediman without whom our education platform would never have existed.
We thank our core team back at home – Jeff, Shevy, Divya, Trent and Brian. They are working hard on the next expedition for Rob and I, which is CF 2018, departing in February 2018. Check the website for details as there are only a few places remaining http://www.2041.com/cfa18/
This journey has been more difficult than I thought in many different way, but with the support of such an incredible Team….we are strong
Voice Message Day 36 From Barney. In the Middle of This Incredible Continent. Click the link below to listen:
You might find it interesting to read a message from Ben Saunders, who is currently walking across Antarctica solo and unassisted. He is a day away from the Pole and is not sure if he should then continue to complete his expedition to the Ross Ice Shelf and risk his safety. To read all about this, go to the article just posted on the Blog area of my website, as I posted a copy of his blog. I wish him all the best in making a very difficult decision, but he must stay safe. Robert Swan was Ben’s Patron when he and Tarka walked across Antarctica and made history in 2013/14.
Day 37 SPEC- Barney here
We are gaining altitude with each passing day. However it is not a straight up hill. We are crawling are way across giant waves in the glacier. It is always daunting to see a big rise growing on the horizon, knowing that we have to go down before rising up once more.
All three of us are having issues with our boots and feet, constant repair is needed to ensure nothing gets too bad. The humor remains strong as ever.
The giant wind carved sastrugi make for interesting viewing, some of the formations are truly out of this world. They also can be super painful to fall into….
We have around 180 NM to go before reaching the pole, as the bird flies! Passing 87 degrees marks this.
Some words from my diary-
Fast from thoughts
Let the spin drift take them
Shadows curl around
Bearing remaining true
We borrow everything
Until we turn white
The void less blue
Manage the moment
Black and white
All the grey between
Incapacity is a chain laid
Open your eyes
To the one who lays the chain
Leave the thoughts
To ice and sky
For a heavy load can seem light
It is just a frame
Body and mind
Goodnight from another sunny evening
Voice Message Day 37 from Martin. Click below to listen:
https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/375622637&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true“>Message from Martin Day 37 SPEC. Click here to listen
Day 38 SPEC- Message from Barney
A rough one today with the sastrugi getting the better of us. The mileage is dropping but the effort is full on. It takes all our energy to get through these days. The journey is all uphill and we were walking into a head wind as it blows down from the Polar Plateau creating a resistance that one might find in the NASA astronaut training center!
The pulks feel heavier and every muscle is working overtime. The smallest blisters and bumps are engaging in this trauma and when we reached the tentstonight, I am not sure any of us spoke much. Just eat….then sleep.
We still were able to cover 10.2 nm which was a miracle in itself. The sastrugi is the highest we have seen to date and I hope it will be for the remainder of this Expedition. Though something tells me….perhaps not. The break stops were shorter as now with temperature at -22° C you get cold quickly. Although nothing stops me from my CSM Bars……..not even Antarctica!!
Which reminds me of the little note I found inside one of the bars…..from Michael Hesler “Speaking on behalf of the CSM team it has been an honor to serve you Robert and Barney and a genuine pleasure to solve the technical challenges associated with the product development. I should mention a non-CSM gentleman whose research provided us with an insight leading to our eventual success. Dr. Michael A. Berthaume’s numerous publications regarding tooth geometry and diet prompted us to think about the problem of eating a frozen bar differently. Michael was kind enough to correspond with me and I hope our collective thought processes have led to a food product that is practical and enjoyable even if eaten frozen.”
Maybe I will have just a little more now……until tomorrow
Voice Message from Rob for Kayden at Tea Area Legacy Elementary, South Dakota. Click below to listen:
Voice Message- Day 38 SPEC from Barney. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message #2- DAY 38 SPEC from Martin. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message for Ella, Age 11 TASIS England American School. Click below to listen to the answer to Ella’s question read by Rob.
30 Dec Barney And Martin Pose For A Quick Shot Before Starting March – Day 39 Of SPEC
All’s well here in camp.
Another long day but no wind….which makes us extremely happy and we did our second longest day of the trek so far.
The cloud cover is causing the light to be flat so we stumble and fall on several occasion. But we are still moving and moving well. We welcome our Last Degree Team, David, Chris, Ghazala, Daniel, Tem and Keith, who have started to arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile for their departure to Antarctica next week. They are joining us from around the world and will meet Robert at Union Glacier, Antarctic then fly to meet us at 89°S in a short while. We promise we will wash for your arrival!!
Sleep is calling. Have a great evening everyone………………..
Voice Message Day 39 SPEC from Kyle. Click the link below to listen:
Voice Message Day 39 SPEC from Rob at Base Camp, Union Glacier. Click the link below to listen:
Voice Message Question answered for Spencer, Age 13, El Portal School in Yosemite, Ca. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message Question answered for Kyle, Age 15, Douglas County High School, Castle Rock, Colorado. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message Question answered for Nolan, Age 14, Seacoast Collegiate High School, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message Question answered for Avery, Age 11, Washington Elementary School, Washington State. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message from Rob- Day 40 SPEC. Whiteout! Click below to listen:
31 Dec A Parhelion, Also known As A Sun Dog, Shines Over Our Camp – Day 40 Of SPEC
We skied 9.6nm today and today was another tough day. No contrast, lots of wind and everything directly into our faces. We are stronger with the amount of exercise we do every day but Antarctica continues to test us beyond anything we thought possible.
Trying to fashion your thoughts so that you can think of something more than “how will I get thru today”…is difficult. I was told by Dad and others that this section would be the test of my endurance. How right they were. All the training, all the endurance does not truly prepare you for Antarctica. When she decided your day will be tough…there is no hiding.
Now back in the tent and ready for some warm food, warm sleeping back….little talk and a solid 9 hours sleep before we do the same again tomorrow….
Day 41 SPEC-
Well, as you might imagine, we are getting fairly tired of our standard rations. But tonight for Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve for all those that don’t have Scottish descendants!). It’s been another long day but tonight we’re looking forward to enjoying a small dram of whisky – provided by friends of ours at the Ardgowan Distillery. They’re the people who designed and built the solar snow-melters we’ve been using on expedition, and we’ll be adding a wee drop of the water they’ve melted to our Ardgowan Expedition malt whisky to bring in the New Year.
We’re certainly not the first explorers to have drunk whisky in Antarctica – it was definitely enjoyed at field base in early expeditions – but there’s no record of anyone ever having taken any to the South Pole. A few early adventurers tried to make some kind spirit to drink – on Mawson’s 1912 expedition they made a (literally) poisonous concoction called ‘Tanglefoot’ by ‘boiling raisins in primus methylated spirit’ which, not surprisingly, tasted awful. Definitely don’t try that at home!
Thankfully, we have two small flasks of malt whisky – one which we plan to drink tonight, and another we’re taking all the way to the South Pole, and then back to Scotland – where it will then become part of some very exclusive Ardgowan Expedition malt whisky. I think we can safely say this will be the most southerly dram in the world!
But wherever you are, we wish all of our family, friends, sponsors and supporters lots of love, laughter and new adventures in 2018.
Barney, Kyle, Martin…..and Robert
Voice Message Day 41 SPEC. Happy New Year 2018! Click below to listen:
Day 42 SPEC
As we continue to climb up to the Polar Plateau we want to highlight the incredible support we have from our partners and without whom we would never have been able to make this journey a reality. Each supporter was handpicked by Robert to ensure his vision was in line with their companies mission. We asked Commvault for a few words about the partnership and they offered the following;
At Commvault, we are especially proud to join this #EverydayRemarkable journey with Robert and Barney as the official Data Partner, assuring that the images, videos, audio and data from Antarctica are protected and distributed. We do this via the Commvault Data Platform, the world’s leading data protection software. For this assignment, the Commvault platform is running on the Microsoft Azure cloud, with data being funneled through an Azure data center in South America. We are leveraging Commvault Edge — sync and file share software — that allows the team to upload data and then share it with all partners globally. Our Commvault Managed Services team make it all possible. Commvault’ s CMO Chris Powell will join the expedition shortly for the final push to the South Pole. Every day, around the world, Commvault software and services protect the remarkable journeys of companies and organizations of all sizes.
Thank you in particular to Chris Powell and Bill Wohl who have been with us every step of this Expedition.
Voice Message on Day 42 SPEC. Click on the link below to listen:
Voice Message from Rob on Day 42- About Feet! Click on the link below to listen:
Voice Message from Martin Discussing Radiation. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message from Martin Discussing Navigation. Click link below to listen:
Day 43 SPEC- 60° Team Joining- Flight to Union Glacier.
Today a flight left Punta Arenas, Chile bound for Union Glacier, Antarctica. Aboard the flight are 6 intrepid explorers who will join Robert and the SPEC Team to ski the Last Degree with them to the Geographic South Pole. Tonight I would like to introduce you to two of them….Chris Powel and Daniel D’Hotman. Over the next 2 weeks we will follow their journey with Robert and they will meet up with the SPEC Team.
When Rob came to speak earlier this year at Commvault, employees were inspired by his message and we saw a clear link between his mission and Commvault – both what we do, and how we work. Commvault helps our customers on the path to achieving remarkable things through managing and protecting data, and internally – our promise to our people is that they have the freedom to make an impact, together. So when Rob first approached us to partner with him on the South Pole Energy Challenge – we jumped at the opportunity. We’re honored to be the official data partner of the 2041 Foundation to help protect the data surrounding their efforts of conservation. For me personally, joining the expedition was a matter of “walking the walk” to underscore our commitment to enabling the remarkable, to sustainability, and to the freedom for our employees to make an impact.
My name is Daniel D’Hotman, and I recently finished my final medical exams in Australia. I’m currently training in British Columbia, Canada, for the Last Degree, where I will join the final 60 miles of the South Pole Energy Challenge with five others. Barney Swan and I met 13 years ago, in Far North Queensland, Australia. Since then we have remained best friends. When the opportunity arose to join Barney on SPEC, the ultimate adventure, and work towards improving renewable energy technologies, a cause we are both passionate about, I did not hesitate. Upon returning to Australia, I want to maximize the impact of 2041’s education program to bring SPEC’s message to 20,000 Australian children and a variety of businesses and corporates. Australia is a small country, but we have one of the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita globally. This must change. We want SPECs education program to empower the students of today to make better decisions – for their children’s sake. I want to be part of the solution to changing the fossil fuel paradigm. SPEC is an important step on this journey.
Last Night in Antarctica- A Post from Ben Saunders with Robert Swan
I’ve just heard a rumour that the Ilyushin aircraft that will take me from Antarctica back to Punta Arenas in Chile might be arriving in the early hours of the morning (2am) so I’m on tenterhooks waiting to see if the weather window holds, as it’s forecast to get a lot worse until the next window on Friday.
Most of today had been spent resting, drinking tea and chatting with my fellow inhabitants of this little campsite on the edge of Antarctica. As someone said at lunchtime (I think it was the mountaineering guide Scott Woolums, who has climbed the Seven Summits – the highest peak on each continent – seven times) ‘Unique places attract unique people’. I had the privilege this afternoon of sitting down for a long, frank conversation with Robert Swan. Robert has had a huge influence on the course of my life: reading his book In the Footsteps of Scott as a teenager was one of the things that set me off on this path, he was a patron of my last expedition, and he has become a friend whose wisdom I value enormously.
Some of the wonderful staff and pupils I’ve met from Stowe school might recognise the bobble hat I’m wearing in this photo of Robert and me at Union Glacier, and I hope the picture of me with my hero (Robert was the first in history to walk to both the North and South Poles) and my friend might have special meaning at the start of a new year. It’s no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be here in Antarctica if it wasn’t for the example that Robert set, and through the story he told. We must never forget that we are each writing our own stories – hour by hour, day by day, year by year – and as tempting as it is to feel at times that we are too small or too young or too inexperienced, or that what we are doing is insignificant or imperfect or incomplete or irrelevant – we must never forget that our story will one day be an example to others when they in turn are seeking guidance and wisdom and inspiration.
Day 44 SPEC. Final cache.
Today we made the final few miles to our final cache. We are at 88.13s. Tonight I get the special treatment and spend the night in the bachelor tent. A little more space is such an indulgence on this Expedition. It is still blowing 20knots outside and it seems a long way to the other tent. Wind chill currently registers -37°C. We travelled 4nm to our final cache today and the contents of this depot will take us all the way to the South Pole. Just when you are getting used to the lighter pulks…up comes the cache and we load it all up again.
Everyone is good… some minor niggles although Barney is struggling with a painful toe and a little chaffing. Not really much to report aside from the fact that we are looking forward to meeting up with the last degree team in a few days. It will seem really bizarre for there to be other human beings with us. I suppose they will have news and information, there will be noise and smell like we haven’t seen in a while and yes…they will agree there will be “smell”. It’s been 45 days since a shower and that’s a lot even for me!!. Thankfully we are through the sastrugi. Tough pulling conditions are heavy as the cold temperatures makes the snow more sticky! So off to bed and we will try to make tomorrow a long day and get prepared for our new friends…..
Voice Message from Rob SPEC Day 44. Click on the link below to listen:
Voice Message from Martin Regarding Degrees SPEC Day 44. Click on the link below to listen:
Day 45 SPEC- Message from Barney
We skied 10nm today in very sticky conditions. When the snow is sticky due to the lower temperatures it makes skiing more difficult as it feel as though your skis are picking up all the snow on the bottom of them. It is a great feeling to know that we are now less than 100nm from the Geographic South Pole and also very exciting is that we are roughly 5 days from meeting the Last Degree Team. We will connect with them closer to the end of this week and then ski the remaining miles together to the Geographic South Pole. It will be odd to have additional people in the Team but so good to hear a few other voices, get news from home and hear some new jokes!!
Temp today was -30°C with the wind-chill factor. We are at 88.24S and the pulks are heavy after resupply but we now have enough supplies to get to all the way to the Pole. Health is good but we have all lost weight and are a little tired. Strange to think of where we are on the globe.
Thinking now about what I will do when I get home, what will I eat and how will I feel when I return to Chile. It has been 50 days now on the ice with just this small army of friends. And although everything is white and flat it is amazing how many shade of white there actually are in the world. I have learned a lot about weather, clouds, good and bad weather signs and I think how little I contemplate weather at home. There is always a safe haven…under a tree, inside a building. But here we are vulnerable, at the mercy of Mother Nature and she rules supreme. Drop a glove, forget your sunglasses, don’t stay hydrated and she will be brutal. My senses are much more astute in this quiet, lonely wilderness. How can that be?
Already I have a love/hate relationship with Antarctica…but the utmost respect…
Voice Message Day 45 SPEC Barney Speaking. Click below to listen:
Voice Message Day 45 SPEC from Martin Speaking Toilets! Click below to listen:
Day 3 of The SPEC Last Degree Expedition Team
Today is Day 3 of The SPEC Last Degree Expedition. We are comprised of folks from across the globe – eager to join Barney, Kyle, and Martin – for the last 60 nautical miles (starting at the 89th parallel) as they end their historic journey at the Geographic South Pole.
We have been at Union Glacier base camp, about 600 miles from the South Pole, for two days finalizing the last elements before we get started. Today has been full of many activities as you can see from the photos. First we had our medical briefing from Dr. Hans Christian. That was very well received, with everyone understanding the seriousness and need to maintain a careful eye on ourselves and each other.
Then a little bit later in the day we did some of the food prep work. We all had to go into an area to select our breakfasts and dinners. As well as finding the snacks we will rely on during the day. You may be wondering why no lunches, that’s because we will be only stopping for quick breaks each hour – where we will be relying upon nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, and for many of us – we will also bring what we have come to call “Barney Bars” – a unique combination of high calorie ingredients packed into a 1,000+ calorie bar.
After this we took a short trek (about 1.5 miles) to try and familiarize ourselves with the equipment we will be using. In particular the sleds, the harnesses and the skis. All very different than anything we have used in the past while skiing either downhill or cross country. We must also try and coordinate skiing together. While we will move at the pace of our slowest member, we want to work and travel as a team. I think we did just fine, and even decided to practice setting up tents at the end. It was a windy, but a successful endeavor.
At the beginning of each day we meet in the dome tent that we’ve been calling our little community center to have some sewing classes. It seems we all needed to do a little bit of work on our facemasks to make sure that we’re all safe in the high winds that we’re going to be heading into in a couple of days. We had everything from a skilled surgeon (shout out to Ghazala!) to some of us who were not so skilled with the needles. But we all managed to get our facemasks modified…. needless to say, some look better than others.
Tomorrow we will take the training to a higher level and attempt a 10km trek starting at 8:45am sharp after breakfast. Full sleds… wandering rather far from base camp for the first time. Rob says he will leave without us if we are late – and I believe him. So end of this incredible day and ready for the next one… Goodnight people.
Voice Message From Rob- Union Glacier Planning. Click below to listen:
07 Jan What Animal Is This : Day 47 Of SPEC
Today we got buzzed by the Basler BT-67 aircraft as it flew overhead to drop the Last Degree Team at 89° S.
This conversion from the older DC3 model to an updated system, is actually a remanufacturing process. The whole process takes roughly 6 months and requires 35,000 to 45,000 man hours to complete, depending on configuration The Basler BT-67 is a utility aircraft produced by Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It is a remanufactured and modified Douglas DC-3; the modifications designed to significantly extend the DC-3’s serviceable lifetime. The conversion includes fitting the airframe with new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprop engines, lengthening the fuselage, strengthening the airframe, upgrading the avionics, and making modifications to the wings’ leading edges and wing tips. This aircraft is a workhorse for Antarctica as it is one of very few aircraft that have the ability to attach skis.
Once the Last Degree Team arrive they will start skiing slowly, without us. We will meet up with them in a couple of days, weather and equipment permitting!!
Today we are approximately 15nm from 89°S. All feeling tired but spirits are high. The altitude is now starting to affect us and slowing our travel, thoughts and sleep more each day. In addition to the altitude, the sleds which didn’t feel so heavy a few weeks ago now drag at our every step.
As we get closer to the South Pole thoughts of home ring loud in our minds and hearts. It feels longer than 47 days on this expedition and almost 52 days in Antarctica so far. Lots of great experiences but we are struggling a little now with bumps, bruises and blisters. Every step is harder and there are mornings, I would just like to leave the sled behind…but it holds our world at the moment and we depend on everything it carries to survive.
We travel longer days but the miles are stagnant, we sleep longer hours but the time passes quickly. We are excited for the new faces and sounds… but conscious our habitual days will be changing…..
Voice Message on Day 47 SPEC- Barney speaking. Click the link below to listen:
Voice Message from Martin on Day 47 SPEC Discussing Nautical Miles and Sastrugi. Click on the link below to listen:
Here we are on Day #6 of our Last Degree Expedition with Robert Swan. We had a leisurely start to the day. Breakfast at 8:30: eggs and bacon… awesome. Who would believe breakfast was more than a granola bar at this latitude?
Once we packed up the tents, dressed for the day, hydrated and made sure we had pliantly liquid for the journey we started skiing at 10:30am local Antarctic time.
On just our 6th day on this ski journey we were blessed with seeing the incredible 22 ° ice halo effect of the sun on the ice crystals. . This halo is formed by light deflecting through the hexagonal face of any ice crystals in thin cirrus clouds or icy fog. No light is deflected less than 22°, setting the minimum diameter of the arc and the hole in the center of the halo. Most light is deflected to approximately 22°, creating a bright inner edge. The vision is truly amazing to see.
Altitude sickness is still affecting some of us but we were warned and all prepared. With that said, we made good progress today at 6.28 nm. Our routine is that we ski for 1 hour… then take a 10 min break, normally for hydration, then repeat this throughout the day. Today we did so 4 times. The we were finished foe the day.
The visibility was very low, making it difficult to see any horizon for much of the day. This also makes skiing harder as the light is flat and you are unable to see any undulations in the snow. Fortunately, the snow conditions Robert said were the best he had seen this year.
Here beyond 89 °S is known as The Crystal Desert – and today we learned why it was given that name. The temperatures are so low, that any precipitation immediately freezes creating what looks like ice crystals or “diamond dust”. Diamond dust is a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. This meteorological phenomenon is also referred to simply as ice crystals. It generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies, so it is sometimes referred to as clear-sky precipitation. In polar regions diamond dust may continue for several days without interruption, and today we enjoyed watching these crystals fall and blow all around us, the ground was shimmering. Very cool.
Now in a routine, we are able to get the tent set up in a short period. Which is great due to the low, low temperatures. Daniel and I have the swing of it. Not the fastest… but okay. We’ve somehow also been designated the “Thrown” builders for the past two nights. I must say the design tonight was awesome. We need to order cabinets and floor, but other than that, it’s a thing of beauty.
Our guides, Devon and Johanna are world class. Johanna holds the record for fastest walk to the South Pole. 39 days, 700 nm and Devon has skied to the South Pole over a dozen times now.
Dinner was excellent and warm and now all of us are tired and camp is now very quiet. 7:30am wake up tomorrow. Hoping to cover 8+ miles on 6 pulls. We will need a Barney Bar or two for sure as we will be on skis for 7 hours. Loving this journey and glad you are along with us….enjoy some images I took today…………
Voice Message from the Last Degree Team on Their Day 6. Click Link Below to Listen:
Day 48 SPEC
We had a good day today 12.2nm. We are getting closer to the South Pole and to the Last Degree Team, who we should meet up with in the next couple of days.
My feet are still giving me trouble and I hope the LD Team have a few items that will make skiing a little easier for those last few miles. I have my own space again tonight in the Batchelor Pad… I can stretch a little further and work on my feet without disturbing the others. I am sure things will change when we meet up with Dad and the group.
We are completely in our routine now, I can almost do this in my sleep. It reminds me of driving to places and then not thinking about how I got there. That is a good thing as I need a little help for these last miles. The snow conditions have changed drastically and are smooth with little if no sastrugi. It’s amazing as we have been battling for what seems like a long time through the cluster of ice and snow to get here. The weather also is in our favor. A great day with little wind, even if the temperatures are now down to -30° C and will continue to drop as we climb higher and closer to the South Pole.
We have so many stories to tell I can’t wait to reach the Pole and share with everyone…for now though I will eat, work on my feet and sleep…..soundly
Voice Message from Day 48 SPEC. Click link below to listen:
Voice Message from Martin on Daily Routine. Day 48 SPEC. Click link below to listen:
DAY 7 Last Degree Team on SPEC
Today was the 7th day of the Last Degree Expedition. Our journey began when we flew from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier in Antarctica. It has been 3 days since we started skiing from 89° South to the Geographic South Pole. Our team of 7 has been gradually increasing mileage; we travelled 8.8 miles today (7.5 nautical miles) with temperatures around -20°C. A warm day in Antarctica I am told!
As we walked across the great white plain of the Polar Plateau, I find myself reflecting on the inherent difficulties associated with Polar travel. Whether it be getting dressed, going to the bathroom, or even getting a drink of water, Antarctica makes everything a mighty challenge. What Barney, Kyle and Martin have gone through in travelling more than 50 days and 500 nm to date, across this desolate landscape is truly remarkable. I’m looking forward to meeting up with my close friend Barney soon, and celebrating with him as he completes this historic feat.
We must also remember that this mission does not end when we reach the South Pole. All of us have a role to play in translating Barney and the SPEC team’s bravery into tangible change through the upcoming ClimateForce campaign. If you would like to help clean up 326 million tonnes of carbon, please visit www.2041.com for real solutions that can be implemented in your life. All the best and talk soon.
Daniel D’Hotman, Australia
Last Degree Blog: Walking in a White Out by Chris Powell, CMO Commvault
We started our day on January 8 with an 8:00 am breakfast of bacon and eggs…fuel for our five and a half sled pulls that covered 8.88 nm. We started our trek with cloudy skies, no wind, and fairly mild temperatures. In fact, Rob said it was the best condition he had seen so far, including his time earlier with Barney and the team.
That soon changed, as we encountered white out conditions later in the day. Our guides, Devon and Johanna, were awesome, as they kept us going in a straight line. No easy feat when you can’t see more than ten feet in front of you. They preserved, walking a few feet ahead, checking the compass, and moving us all to the next spot.
The team is settling in to a good rhythm. Our tents are going up faster and at the end of the day, there is time for some of us to listen to music or an audio book. One of our team members, Ghazala, continues to struggle with cold feet, as her boots are constricting. However, she is fighting the good fight and is determined to reach the pole with us. Listen to her voice message on this blog
Rob (pictured here on one of our breaks) has taken it upon himself to keep our spirits up. He is always the first to provide words of encouragement or a well-timed joke to keep us moving. If I didn’t know better, I would think he came from central casting – the man wears the part of an Arctic explorer like no one else.
Our day ended with dinner and an early bed time. Up tomorrow to do it again…hopefully with better conditions and some sun.
Voice Message on Day 7 of The Last Degree- Ghazala speaking. Click the link below to listen:
Day 49 SPEC
Every day and every step we are closer to the South Pole. We skied 10.45nm today and are now only 8 nm away from meeting up with the Last Degree Team. We are now really looking forward to seeing them and it should be any day.
We have been fortunate also, with the weather, which has been kind to us the last few days. Temperatures have risen a little, to about -25°C and no wind. This may be the best weather we have seen on the journey so far. Perhaps also, as the sastrugi no longer haunts us, we are basking in this terrain and these improved conditions!
I picked up some other boots today from an airdrop. My feet are a bit of a mess and I can’t wait to see if some of the pain and discomfort will be alleviated by the change of footwear. I think the pair I have been wearing, were a little small and didn’t allow enough movement. It will be amazing if the new boots help.
Today we crossed the 89°S parallel and now only have 60nm until we reach the Geographic Pole. It seems surreal now that we have been on the ice for 55 days and that the Expedition is almost complete. Lots of work still to be done but hopefully we have raised some attention and eyebrows to the cause of utilizing more renewable energy into our daily lives. You will be hearing much more from me about it in the future.
I am now thinking about the next journey – No skiing – in February 2018. Dad and I will join an incredible and diverse group of people as we sail to the Antarctic Peninsula and continue this discussion and mission for changing our lifestyles. Due to the interest and demand, I understand we have opened up a few more places on the ship. So come and join us, join the conversation…. http://www.2041.com/cfa18/
Until tomorrow…. Barney
Voice Message from SPEC Day 49. Click the link below to listen:
Video Update from David Bunch. Click the link below:
Day 50 SPEC
Can it be 50 days since we started? I think Barney’s feet would feel like to was 50 or more days…. Though now with his new boots he is making much better progress and he says the difference is amazing. So in celebration of the new boots, we skied 11.4nm today and are at 89°.17S. We are just 44 nm from the Geographical South Pole.
We saw the tracks of Robert and the Last Degree Team today. See the attached image. It was strange to know that we will meet up with them in the next day or so. More people, noise and stories. We are only 8 miles now behind them. It is unbelievable to think that on 11 January it will have been 32 years since Robert Swan first reached the Geographical South Pole on his Footsteps of Scott Antarctic Expedition. Now 32 years later he will arrive at the South Pole with his son Barney Swan, 23 years old and Roger Mear’s (who was on Footsteps of Scott with him) wife Ghazala as she skies with the SPEC Last Degree Team to the pole.
Back in 1984, Southern Quest, which was ship that Robert had purchased to get them to Antarctica, set sail on 3 November to travel the 14,842 nautical miles (27,487 km) to Antarctica. The expedition stopped over in Lyttelton, New Zealand to meet Bill Burton, who at 96 years old was the last surviving member of Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition in 1912. After that meeting, Robert’s Antarctic expedition was given the official name of “In the Footsteps of Scott”. Upon arrival on the frozen continent, Robert and the team spent the Antarctic winter at the ‘Jack Hayward’ base with colleagues John Tolson and Dr. Michael Stroud. When the winter had passed, Robert, Roger Mear and Gareth Wood set out to walk 900 miles (1,400 km) to the Geographical South Pole. They arrived at the South Pole on 11 January 1986, after 70 days without the aid of any radio communications or back-up support and having hauled 350 lbs. (160 kg) sledges. This 3 man team had achieved the longest unassisted march ever made in history. Once at the pole, they received the horrible news that their ship, Southern Quest, had been crushed by pack ice and had sunk in Antarctica, just minutes before they arrived at the South Pole. However, Robert returned to Antarctica in 1987 with a ship to collect the rest of the team and to remove all traces of his expedition.
I can’t comprehend how Robert must be feeling. So many years working for the preservation and protection of Antarctic. A continent so close to his heart and a place where he lost so many of his friends. I look forward to hearing more stories from Robert when we meet up….perhaps tomorrow!
Voice Message Day 50 SPEC. Click on the link below to listen:
Message from Last Degree Team.
From Keith Sauls
Failed Coups and Successful Takeovers;
We awoke to a full scale rebellion by three of four stoves refusing to boil water. Ultimately the stoves list, and tents went down for a (near) on time departure.
A more friendly takeover was wildly successful when David, our Shell Biofuel teammate took over to lead “Pulls” three and six from Johanna and Devon, and contributed to a net 8.4 nautical (6,000 ft.) miles and approximately 10.5 statute miles (5280 ft.) with a bit (but very little) navigational “wiggle.”
Today was a great reminder of the importance of systems – which we talk about a lot here; and the critical need to have back-up systems.
Update from the Ice
Today, January 9, we woke up at 7:00 AM and were treated to our first dehydrated breakfast of the trip. Hot water was passed around and we poured it into our packets of mystery breakfast. Quite a change from the delicious meals Devon and Johanna have cooked for us so far, but no complaining here. It was warm and filling and we were ready for the day.
We planned for tents down at 10:00 AM, but a small storm delayed us. We were on skis by 11:15 AM. It was a beautiful, sunny day with not too much wind. But it was very cold – the opposite of the previous day. Despite the cold, we moved 8.4 nautical miles (9.6 miles). It was a grueling day…the sled felt heavier, which could be attributed to the long day on skis or the consistency of the snow. Or, as Rob calls it, sand.
On a bright note, Ghazala’s feet seem to be improving. She changed boots and she seems better. Her issues aren’t totally resolved, but she is definitely better.
If you don’t believe how cold it was, check out this picture of me at the end of our day. Look closely, you will see lots of ice on my face mask. The pole is getting closer…the journey continues.’
Voice Message from Last Degree Team. Click link below to listen:
Last Degree Team Post from David Bunch- provided by his wife, Traci Bunch.
Heard from David briefly just now – they could see Barney, Kyle, and Martin on the horizon and were getting ready to welcome them (the SPEC team who have already walked approx 550 miles since setting off from Union Glacier in November) as they join David, Robert Swan, and the rest of the 89th degree team, to finish the final 35-40 miles together to the South Pole (if my calculations are correct!) Super proud of David who has also been given the honour of leading the team on 2 “pulls” yesterday and 1 today (each “pull” is approximately 1 hour in length, and then they take a short hydration break.)
Check out these photos that the team were able to send through!
Message from Jeff Bonaldi- January 10, 2018
Rob and Barney saw each other for the first time since Rob had to pull out a few weeks ago. Here is the picture from today.
I was told that it was a very special moment.
January 10, 2018 SPEC and Last Degree Teams Unite!
Today we rendezvoused with the SPEC Team – what a blast to see Rob and Barney reunited! It was a great father-son reunion. I am in awe of how quickly the SPEC Team can get their tents up – I guess there is something to the old adage, “practice makes perfect.”
Everyone is in great spirits, and we are all delighted to see each other. It was a strange experience to ski up to an established camp after so many miles. Needless to say, great company and conversation were enjoyed tonight.
The cold is overwhelming at this point. The temperature is now -20° Celsius with a wind chill of -35° Celsius. I definitely need work on my face mask skills.
After meeting up with SPEC team, we were able to catch up on photos, blogs, emails and REST! More miles to go tomorrow as we strive to make the South Pole by the weekend. Looking forward to concluding this adventure with the entire team.
Chris Powell CMO, Commvault
Voice Message with SPEC and The Last Degree Meeting Up! Click link below to listen:
Day 52 SPEC and Last Degree Teams
We moved slower this morning. Taking in these last few days of the Expedition. It is so wonderful to be with Robert Swan on this day. 32 years ago he was standing at the Geographic South Pole after their 70 day ski journey from the edge of the Antarctic continent. He is happy and jolly telling stories of long ago….or just 32 years ago! He is happy Barney is back safely with him.
He talked a lot today about how things were different back then, equipment, clothing food, navigation. Their pulks weighed 320lbs…I can’t even fathom pulling such a sled. I wonder how they even reached the South Pole. They used just a sun compass, a watch and the sun. If we, the Last Degree Team, had been equipped with such navigational tools….we would be lost by now! We do rely so heavily on our technology to navigate us though daily tasks and through life. We have had many discussions as a group around what is possible and where the line is between dependency and addiction, between improving life and skills and losing touch with other human beings. We haven’t found the answer yet…. But there is always tomorrow!
We skied 3nm today, sort of a rest day but not quite. We are still climbing but the weather gods have been kind to us. Little wind, lots of sun and clear blue skies. We will ski a longer day tomorrow and anticipate reaching the South Pole on Sunday or Monday…I am enjoying every day, every moment as I know I may never return to this incredible place….
JANUARY 11, 2018 Perspective
Congratulation Robert Swan O.B.E.
On Saturday January 11 1986 at 14.03pm Robert Swan, Roger Mear and Gareth Woods, arrived at the South Geographic Pole. They had skied for 70 days and a total of 872.99nm. No one had heard anything from them since the day they left their small base on the Ross Ice Shelf…..but they made it.
When Robert departed Antarctica back in 1986 he wanted to protect and preserve this icy continent. “Let’s show that it can be the best of man and not the worst of man”. He was aware that he had a platform and could make a difference, people would listen….and so it began…
Today, 32 years later Robert Swan is back in Antarctica, though he has never truly left. If someone asked you what you had done or were planning to do for the next 32 years….what would you say? Robert would tell you “We are saving Antarctica”
He has been working with students and educators, presenting at many of the Fortune 500 companies around the globe, talking to World Leaders about how Antarctica might be relevant to their causes and missions and how to connect the dots on climate change, community outreach, renewable energy and education.
If you were fortunate enough to be in his path then you were swept up by his enthusiasm, inspiration and “never say no” attitude. Robert has truly changed so many lives, encouraged multinational organizations to change their philosophies on energy and leadership, emboldened woman in Asia and Africa to join his Leadership and Sustainability Expeditions to Antarctica and always been relevant to the issues communities around the world are facing.
For more than 5 years he has been planning this South Pole Energy Challenge Expedition. He would ski with a small team to the Geographic South Pole using only renewable energy. If he could show this was possible in the highest driest and windiest place on earth then it would be possible anywhere in the world. His only non-negotiable requirement….that his 23 year old son Barney join him and that on reaching the Pole he would “pass the baton” to Barney and the younger generation.
Now at 61 years of age, he said he couldn’t keep up. No aches, pain or equipment issues. He could ski 10nm each day but not the 12 -14nm needed to reach the South Pole and test all the technology before the Antarctic winter began. He made it clear HE was not the Expedition, he was just the catalyst to make it happen.
So Barney and the team proceeded without him. An incredible feat for a young man. Two days ago Robert met up with the SPEC Team again, as they near the South Pole. He WILL ski to the Pole with them. The distance isn’t relevant but the Expedition was a success and Father and Son will join hands and complete a journey started 23 years ago when Barney was born. Maybe Robert truly didn’t think he could ski 14nm/day, or……….. maybe he is not quite ready to “pass the baton”. Time will tell….let’s talk again in 32 years!!
An old friend…………..
Voice Message……32 Years Ago. Click on the link below to listen:
Day 53 SPEC and The Last Degree Teams
A great day today covering over 10 miles in 6 ‘pulls’. We had the steepest inclines that we’ve had to deal with so far but everyone did really well although there was a bit more huffing and puffing and the breaks were much appreciated. Barney led 2 pulls and the pace of the bigger group – now that we are effectively moving as one expedition- was good.
The weather was mixed, cloudy with a white out in the morning where it can be quite disorienting but not quite as cold and then the sun came out later. Although it tends to be colder when the sky is clear it makes it easier to navigate as you can reference the angle of your shadow to maintain a steady course in addition to using the compass.
With one more big day tomorrow we will be well on course to arrive at the Pole midday Monday.
David Bunch Global Vice President Retail Marketing Shell
Voice Message Day 53 SPEC and The Last Degree. Click the link below to listen:
DAY 54 SPEC and The Last Degree. Nearing the South Pole!
Hello, this is Tem Doran, from the Last Degree Team, writing the daily blog for the first time – and we are excitingly camped just 11 nautical miles from the Pole.
Today has been a series of 6 hour long pulls in our coldest day so far: -35° C. Throughout the day I’ve been trying to film as much as possible, but also keep my fingers from being exposed – they’ve already had a bit of frost nip from earlier in the week.
This morning I set up the drone with little success, it was just too windy. But my camera and batteries have been surviving well, and I feel very fortunate to be working in such an incredible landscape.
The day ended with a glimpse of the buildings at the South Pole on the distant horizon. Well probably lose sight of them as we skitomorrow, going down into dips in the landscape, only to catch sight of them again when we gain some height. But each time they’ll be getting closer, as we close in on journey’s end.
Today we completed another 9.1 nautical miles today and find ourselves 12 nm from the pole. Plan is to do 6 each of the next two days. Everyone did well today. The winds picked up and it was a very cold and tough pull for parts of the day – with the surface beginning to take on the sand-like appearance we have heard about. A couple team members have had altitude sickness signs today, which could be due to changes in weather that has caused the altitude to feel higher.
Everyone’s facemasks took a lot on today. Kyle went through three. We got into camp and set up the tents for another dehydrated meal. We are all getting sick of them… but hard to imagine how hard it’s been for the SPEC group. Regardless, we all look forward to arriving at the Pole where we will be ready for a fully cooked dinner.
Speaking of the pole – the SPEC team was especially moved and excited to see the Building of the South Pole Station peeking out over the horizon. Big hugs all around. Windy night. Wind-chill is likely to approach -40°C. But sunny, so the tents should be warm. Happy Saturday all….
Chris Powell, CMO Commvault
Let’s go back….105 years ago when Sir Robert Falcon Scott and his team were also headed to the South Pole. Here is an excerpt from their diaries….
“The support team who had left Sir Robert Falcon Scott, to continue to the South Pole had made it back to camp, but they too had a difficult return journey. On 13 January 1912, they reached the Shackleton falls where they had a choice. They could take a three-day detour to get to the bottom or they could rush the falls on their sledge. Lieutenant Evans who was the most senior man present, asked the others what they would like to do, their reply being that as he was the officer he should decide. The glacier was rushed, thus saving a three-day trek, and whilst they were battered and bruised no bones were broken. Exhausted on the return journey, Lieutenant Evans broke down with a severe attack of scurvy. On the 13 February 1912, he asked to be left behind but against his protests the rest of the team bound him to a sledge in his sleeping bag and dragged him for over 100 miles. When they could go no further they made camp. Evans was to stay in the camp with Lashly remaining behind to look after him. His other companion Crean would make a desperate attempt to reach base; if he failed all three would perish. They were almost out of food and so Crean took only a few biscuits and a little chocolate with him. After a continuous eighteen-hour march Crean made it to Hut Point and raised the alarm. Evans and Lashly were rescued and sledged back to camp.
Day 55 SPEC and The Last Degree- Almost there!
Today was a great day to lead. The weather was cold but sunny with lots of shadows and bright spots to help keep us moving straight. We did four pulls, six nautical miles. I had the good fortune of being the lead for the third pole. One of today’s pictures is the compass which is strapped to the person leading the group. I am happy to report we went straight.
Our break times during the pulls are some of the best times to be able to laugh and joke about all of the remarkable experiences here this week. It’s also the critical time for calorie consumption. We figure we are burning 8,000 cal on a big day. And probably running about a 2000 cal deficit. There’s another picture with me eating my last bag of precious M&Ms. A staple food for me this week. Upon finishing for the day we noticed our facemasks were especially icy. But given it was early, Daniel and I had some fun with perspective pictures.
Another phenomena that occurred today – that lent an air of initial fear – was the ice crystals settling under her feet. As we were passing over certain areas the ice would settle and air pockets would come out of it with a loud “Woosh” sound. The first couple of times it happened a loud noise came seemingly out of nowhere and caught a few of us by surprise. After we realized what it was – it added an interesting and fun part to what can be monotonous at times.
The South Pole Base has gone out of sight, because of poor visibility compared to yesterday. We also think that perhaps we were camping on high-ground last night which allowed us to see the station. So tomorrow is the big day, six more nautical miles to go until the remarkable SPEC team completes their 600 mile journey – over 55 days on the ice.
Love to everyone back home.
Chris Powell CMO Commvault
Let’s look back 106 years ago as Scott nears the South Pole…..
Sunday, 14 January 1912 (From Sir Robert Falcons Scott’s expedition in 1912)
Robert Falcon Scott
“Again we noticed the cold,” Scott wrote, “at lunch to-day (Obs.: Lat. 89° 20′ 53” S.) all our feet were cold, but this was mainly due to the bald state of our finnesko…. Oates seems to be feeling the cold and fatigue more than the rest of us, but we are all very fit. It is a critical time, but we ought to pull through. The barometer has fallen very considerably and we cannot tell whether due to ascent of plateau or change of weather. Oh! for a few fine days! So close it seems and only the weather to baulk us.”
Lt. Evans, Crean, and Lashly arrived at the Upper Glacier depot at the top of the Beardmore. “We had just enough now for our meal; this is cutting it a bit fine,” wrote Lashly. “We have now taken our 3 1/2 days’ allowance, which has got to take us another 57 miles to the Cloudmaker [Middle Glacier] Depôt. This we shall do if we all keep as fit as we seem just now. We left a note at the depôt to inform the Captain of our safe arrival, wishing them the best of a journey home. We are quite cheerful here to-night, after having put things right at the depôt, where we found the sugar exposed to the sun; it had commenced to melt, but we put everything alright before we left, and picked up our crampons and got away as soon as we could. We know there is not much time to spare.”
Amundsen (who had reached the South Pole on 14 December 1911, was now heading back north)
“82° [45′] -10 -11 SW wind,” noted Bjaaland tersely. “Thick weather, bloody horrible light. Are on the line of cairns. Saw dog tracks at 46′ mile cairn, they were heading north. Skiing good.”
DETAILS SOON- BUT THEY MADE IT SAFELY TO THE SOUTH POLE!! January 15, 2018! So proud of both the SPEC and The Last Degree Team! XXX
SPEC DAY 56 THEY MADE IT TO THE SOUTH POLE!!!
They’ve done it! Today after 56 days of skiing, the South Pole Energy Challenge team has completed the first ever trek to the south geographic pole using only renewable resources! Congratulations to the entire team & especially Robert and Barney Swan who have spearheaded this expedition.
Today, on 15 January 2018, Robert and Barney Swan reached the South Pole. For Barney the journey took 56 days, 600nm and as much courage as he could muster. At just 23 years old, this was an epic journey for a young man with little polar experience but so much knowledge from his 61 years old father Robert Swan O.B.E. Who is the first person in history to ski to both the North and South Poles. Barney had the support and guidance of two incredible human beings; Kyle O’Donoghue and Martin Barnett. Without them Barney doubts he would have completed the journey.
For Robert Swan the journey started back in 1986 on his first expedition to the South Pole – in the Footsteps of Scott. Now 32 years later this may have in fact been the longest ever Expedition to the Geographic South Pole. A successful journey completed using only renewable energy to demonstrate how, even in the most harsh environment on earth, we can survive on alternative fuels.
We thank all of our kind and generous sponsors and supporters for giving us the opportunity to inspire and engage so many people in this mission.
106 years ago today…
Amundsen’s team became the first to ever reach the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911. Scott and his team neared the pole about a month later. On Jan. 16, 1912, they found a flag in the snow from Amundsen’s expedition. Scott and four other men reached the pole the following day, greatly disappointed to have been beaten. Scott wrote in his diary, “Great God! This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority.”
Our arrival at the South Pole;
The day was an absolute crazy one from the start and ended with such a great celebration. We started in the morning at our normal time: 7 AM wake up, 7:30breakfast, 9:00 tent down, and then 9:30 set off on our journey with temperatures around -28°C and -38°C with the wind chill.
The morning was very windy and a complete white out. It was a big challenge to navigate and our overall trip ended up probably lasting about 45 minutes to an hour longer for the day because of the white out conditions. It was a slow slog… the Pole was not going to make it easy on us. Visibility was so poor, we were within a mile and could not see our destination. Kudos to our guides. (BTW: The guys who traveled 600 miles over 56 days said that the day that we skied into the pole was one of the top 10 worst days in terms of weather.)
Good news was that the sun did finally break, and we were able to ski to the pole in a little bit better weather. But it was still very cold. We arrived and celebrated with many pictures.
What an incredible accomplishment for the three explorers who completed the 600 mile journey. They definitely earned their place in history books as the first expedition to rely completely on renewable energy. And what an honor for our Last Degree group to join them as they skied to the pole. It was quite a moment.
We had a wonderful meal prepared by Michele here at the South Pole ALE camp. Food, drink, and great conversation late into the evening.
Chris Powell CMO Commvault
Voice Message from Barney at the South Pole. Click below to listen:
Voice Message from Rob at the South Pole. Click below to listen:
18 Jan Final SPEC Message from the Antarctic
FINAL Voice Message From Antarctica- SPEC. Click on the link below to listen:
Thank you to all our sponsors, supporters, family and friends who have made this South Pole Energy Challenge such a great success.