Union Glacier, Dec 12th 2010.
It has been 3 days since our safe return from the South Pole, waiting for good weather in Union Glacier to allow the Ilyushin to pick us up for the return flight back to Punta Arenas and the longed for journey home.
Now in retrospect sitting in the relative comfort of ALE’s UG camp, the past two weeks seem like a dream but the reality of the experience is far from that and is one that will be embedded in my memory for a long time to come.
When Mohamed and Haytham first suggested we undertake this expedition I was thrilled at the prospect of sharing in such an adventure with them, and whilst I expected it to be hard, I had no idea how hard it would actually turn out to be – physically, psychologically, emotionally and hygienically. This was by far the most demanding and challenging two weeks of my past 60 years.
Two weeks that would normally flash by unnoticed in our everyday life, crawled excruciatingly slowly here on the ice. Every kilometer gained and every hour clocked felt like a lifetime. But in all those kilometers and hours, it was the last two, when the pole was so close that it seemed so unattainably far.
But alhamdulillah we made it, by Allah’s grace and mercy, all in one piece and none worse for wear other than the brutally blistered feet and marginally frost bitten noses and hands.
Of all the memories that I will have of this trip, the one that I will never forget is the incident that took place around kilometer 54, the last 6 kilometers of our first 20 kilometer days. I was spent, totally drained didn’t have enough energy to take another step, but knew that we had a good 2 hours of hard going to go, all of a sudden, noticing my desperation, Haytham and Mohamed materialized on either side of me, no words were exchanged, but they knew that I knew why they were there, and their sheer proximity, energy and determination gave me the heart to find a reserve that was not there and kept me going for those two more hours.
Any such endeavor is team dependent, and what a team it was. Duncan and Jeff, Guy and Sean, Rob, Ronny and Tim a bunch of truly great guys with whom we had the pleasure of sharing a unique experience.
An amazing trip under any and every circumstance, one that I will never attempt again, but one that I am truly blessed and privileged not to have missed!