From my diary this Wednesday:
21st-century air travel is an astonishing thing. I went to sleep somewhere over the Atlantic, and woke up south of the equator, where it is no longer autumn but spring.
When I think of the privation and suffering that Shackleton and Scott and Amundsen and Mawson’s men endured to travel to Antarctica not much more than a century ago, I find it hard to imagine what the travellers of 2117 will look back on and find unimaginable. This near-fifteen-hour flight from London direct to Santiago?
I’m currently in Punta Arenas, a small town of some 130,000 people in the southern tip of Chile, where I’ll be based until at least Friday 3rd November, the date of my logistics provider, ALE’s first flight to Antarctica of this year. My nine days here is a chance to pack my daily food bags, fine-tune and test expedition clothing, tech and gear, and to take a vital few days of space and relative quiet after the pre-expedition mayhem of my last few weeks in London to decompress and to focus on the task that is about to start…