Happy birthday Waleed

Tuesday Dec 7th, (Dad’s 60th birthday and our initial target date for the pole)

The weather report came in at 8am this morning saying that the wind will persist for another 24 to 36 hours, I was so frustrated I did scream this time. We’ve been pinned down by the weather at 41km from the pole for the last 36 hours and now we may have to wait another 36 hours before we can move again, the news couldn’t have been worse. Here’s where we stand, if the wind dies down by 8 am tomorrow morning and we punch out two 20km days back to back which is very doable we can catch a flight out of the pole the evening of the 9th arriving in Union Glacier in time to catch the scheduled Ilyushion flight out of Antarctica to Punta Arenas Chile on the 10th. If the wind takes 36 hours to subside, and we choose to go for the pole on foot we won’t get to Union Glacier on time to make the Ilyushion flight and the next flight out of there is on the 14th, so it really is decision time.

At breakfast this morning the decision had to be made…

Waleed: “The forecast says that the wind will persist for another 24 to 36 hours, and the way I see it we have one of three options. I am a great believer in the democratic process… as long as it doesn’t interfere with my plans so here are our options:

1. Abort the pole and get the Basler to pick us up and take us to Union Glacier in time to make our flight off the continent.

2. Get the Basler to pick us up, fly us to the pole then on to Union Glacier again in time to leave Antarctica on the 10th.

3. Wait for the weather to subside, do the last 41km on foot, assume we will not make the flight on the 10th and leave Antarctica on 14th, in which case all other flights and connections need to be adjusted.

Those are your options gentlemen, I vote for holding out till the weather clears and going for it, I’ll be damned if I’ve come this far not to finish it”.

The vote was unanimous, everyone voted to wait for the weather to clear and go for the pole.

Being out here definitely has its effect on you though, at the beginning of the trip I inventoried all my clothes to determine how often I could change certain items of clothing, from socks to underwear, to thermal pants and tops etc… I remember when I first got out here I couldn’t wait till the next day to put on a fresh set of under garments. Now I’ve simply resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be filthy regardless of what I do, and considering the fact that warmth is at a premium and is our most precious resource out here, I would rather keep on the set of warm clothes that I’ve been wearing for the last five days than pull out a set of frosty clean ones from my frozen duffel bag that would only serve to send me into a violent fit of shivering and serve no other real purpose. I just hope that when I get back to the real world I manage to regain that touch of civilization which I seem to have lost out here.

The wind really does make it a miserable existence out here though, last night I slept with my thick thermal socks covered by my down booties, thermal pants under my fleece pants, thermal top under my thick fleece top, woolly hat, neck gaiter and gloves, all of this inside my down sleeping bag that is rated to -40 degrees C, and I still had a chill in my bones, it was miserable. And if that wasn’t enough it started snowing in the inside of our tent if you can believe that, not because there was a rip in our tent or a zipper was left open, but because we’ve spent so much time in here that our breath condenses and freezes on the inside of our tent and over the 36 hours that we have been here it has built up, then the wind blows hard, shakes the tent and in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping I get very fine ice particles falling on my face, wonderful, really I highly recommend for everyone to visit the polar plateau.

But when all is said and done, with all the complaining set aside, I really am fortunate to be down here with the group that I’m with, they really are a great group of guys and even my brother who in the past no two consecutive days could go by without us having a fight, we haven’t argued once since we’ve been on the polar plateau, we’ve been on the plateau for seven nights now and in fact it’s been nothing but team work at the highest level for that duration.

It really has been amazing being out here though, I’ve gotten closer to Baba and Mohamed than ever before and that within itself has made it all more than worthwhile.

Let’s pray we can start moving tomorrow morning.

Current position, still, 70km traveled, 41km to our destination.

Haytham.

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10 Responses to Happy birthday Waleed

  1. shakeel Ur Rahman says:

    Dear Sir,
    Belated birthday to you.
    Cannot stop you & your brave sons on congratulating! your adventurous journey to the south pole. was very happy to read this on the front page of National News Paper…….Its a great achievement to the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia and Zahid Group of Companies
    Regs
    Shakeel

  2. Azher H Siddiqui says:

    A very joyful moment for me to see the Photograph of great Adventure Trip on Arab News.
    Salute to Sheikh Waleed, Hytem & Mohammed’s courage.

    Best Regards,
    Azher H. Siddiqui
    Villa # 3
    Agriculture Department
    Head Office

  3. Maroun Helou says:

    Dear Sh. Waleed,

    The 60th at the 90th Degree; what a “blistering” achievement.
    I would like to know where will you be celebrating the 90th.

    Happy Belated Birthday.

    Maroun Helou.

  4. Raad Sabounchi says:

    Amm Waleed, Haytham, Mo, and the team… Blessings and power to you all on your journey! I am confident that the collective wisdom, focus, team-spirit, and single-minded determination of your outstanding team will make this a truly wonderful and humbling experience… I always thought that as one sets off on a journey, the road changes both the traveller and the destination.. the journey is both within and without, and the paths that are forged and covered are those invisible one that link us with one another. Best of luck with the weather and rest of the trip !! Raad Sabounchi

  5. Marwan Alfadl says:

    I tracked this journey from the start. If, for just a fleeting moment, I thought this was something I would like to do, by the second dispatch from Antartica I realized that the extent of my comfort zone is Alpine cold at around 4-5,000 meters, with the proviso of a good apres-ski place being within sight…
    I second Amr’s note that Haytham’s dispatches brought the trek alive to us city dwellers reading them behind our desks, or on a couch, perhaps complaining that the air-conditioning is a couple of degrees off…
    Some of the descriptions of coughing had me worried about our 60-year young adventurer leader down there in the ‘white Empty Quarter’. However, the picture of the celebration with cake (was that baked fresh, or carried ready-made?) put me at ease. Birthday wishes were thought on the 7th, but I understood wouldn’t be read until after leaving, so waited to closer when it would be.
    The shot at the pole is fab and makes for a great display.
    I probably don’t need to ask if anyone would repeat the trip, but it will be great story
    telling for decades to come.

    Meanwhwile, I’m all out of ice here! Can I ask for a couple of cubes from down there? I figure it won’t cost much…

    Bon voyage back, and de-icing limbs and joints on the way.

    Marwan

  6. Alain Sykora says:

    Dear Shk Waleed,

    I have just happened upon your adventure and must say that you really know how to enjoy retirement in style.

    Best wishes from the Sykora family (all four of us now), and we wish you a safe and successful return.

    Alain

  7. Suresh Haridas says:

    I can still see your sense of humour in the notes.That should easily see you all through to the Pole.
    Cheers !

  8. Mimo Khashoggi says:

    Team Zahid,

    Well done so far chaps. Although it seemsyou guys are at times going through some pretty tough moments (quite the understatement I know!), your perceverance and attitude is admirable and inspiring.

    Mo – As the heart of the team, keep them pushing their limits
    Haytham – The literary genius finally puts his writings to some good use!

    and finally

    Ammu Waleed – Happy Birthday!! Wishing you a success and happiness on a wonderful (minus the weather) day. Hope to see you soon, so we can have our joint 30th birthday party!!

    Safe travels to all and can’t wait to hear your personal stories/adventures first hand.

  9. Dear Mr. Waleed Zahid:

    Many, many happy return of the day..

    We are praying for your succcessul and safe return.

    Best wishes to Haytham, Hamza & the team.

    Kind regards,
    Ghazanfar

  10. Amr says:

    Dear Waleed, my buddy, Happy 60th Birthday. I know you did not celebrate it at the South Pole, but celebrating the bonding and camarderie with your boys and friends is a wonderful feat in itself.

    Haytham, you have floored me with your expert writing that has succeeded in bringing images of Antarctica alive and gave us an opportunity to share the frustrations as well as the joyous moments experienced in this God foresaken place. I think you should seriously think about writing a book about the expedition, being the first Saudi pioneers to get there.

    May the wind subside and you be on your way soon.

    Love and prayers from all of us back here, 75 degrees warmer.

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