First night in Antarctica

Yesterday’s flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, in a big Russian Ilyushin IL-76 transport aircraft, half full of cargo and half full humans – took just over four hours. Tarka and I flew here in a smaller aeroplane – a Basler – in 2013, and while it’s hard to say which journey had the greater sense of occasion, I can’t imagine a flight to Antarctica ever being unexciting.

The passengers on the flight – the first to Union Glacier this year – were mostly ALE staff, apart from the Ice Maidens and a Norwegian pair, Astrid Furholt and Jan Sverre Sivertsen who are planning to travel from Ross Island to the South Pole via the Axel Heiberg Glacier, following Roald Amundsen’s route.

While the weather doesn’t look great for the teams starting from the Ross Ice Shelf, it currently looks like there are multiple windows for me to be dropped at Berkner Island in the next few days, so I’m optimistic I’ll be dropped with a decent time window to get across the continent.

It was surreal being back in my sleeping bag last night, in Antarctica’s 24-hour daylight, almost as if I was last here a few weeks ago, and the months and years at home in between were all compressed.

Life here is still surprisingly civilised; I slept in my tent at -22 degrees centigrade last night, but I had bacon and eggs and fresh coffee for breakfast, sat at a table and eating with a knife and fork. Things will be a little more basic when I’m dropped off soon…

Ben Saunders (@polarben)
05/11/17
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Comments

Douglas and Gillian lusty

07/11/2017

Ben good luck on your adventure and best wishes, will be following your progress.

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Gavin Jackman

07/11/2017

Also nice to read messages from some of the posters on the Scott Expedition blog from 4 years ago.
Feels like an old band getting back together for a reunion tour!

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Gavin Jackman

07/11/2017

Godspeed and Tally Ho fella!
Gavin

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Ludivine

07/11/2017

All the best Ben!
Stay safe and warm.

Ludivine.
New Zealand.

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Jonathon

06/11/2017

Good luck Ben.

Can I ask a few geek Qs. Why start at Berkner and not Hercules Inlet? are you actually starting at waters edge? Or is it something like where land meets sea ice, but does Hercules not qualify for this. Also why did you choose Leverett Glacier as the end point? Is this because it was Worsleys route? Is Berkner to Leverett the shortest route for a transcontinent? Also I read somewhere that there is a Polar Road up/down one of the glaciers to the Ross iceshelf will you be ‘riding’ that road? Thanks JB

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Erin B.

06/11/2017

Glad you made it down there safe. Godspeed!

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James Whaley

06/11/2017

Good luck my friend, God is with you.

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Mark Elders

06/11/2017

Hi Ben. Mark from the old days of Legend Internet here. Will you be looking at the possible effects of global warming along your journey? I would be very interested to hear about an observations you come across. Have a safe journey, good luck, and feel the comfort that we are all here following you every day.

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Rosie Vidovix

05/11/2017

Woohoo Ben.
Looking forward to reading about your adventures 😊

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