South Pole Solo - 2003/04 Expedition Log

Tuesday 3rd February 2004
Mary:  To end on a humerous note - here is the link showing two of Fiona's friends at the Base, 'The Sirens' - Suzie and Amanda. Photographer Scot Jackson says "Amanda is a Cargo Coordinator here in the cargo department and Suzie is a Senior Cargo Person. Suzie will be spending the winter here at the South Pole along with about 75 other researchers and support personnel."
Fiona: After Feb. 15 when we leave there are no flights in or out of Amundsen-Scott Base until Oct. 25th.

Check this link:
Friday 30th January 2004

Mary & Roger: With the roar of Jets in the background, Mike phoned us at 10.00 this morning to say they were all in Punta Arenas. They were going to sort out the flight home, and then to bed!

Arrangements at present are: Leave Punta 13.40 local time Tuesday, flying via Santiago and Madrid.  We hope the connections go smoothly.
Join us in welcoming the Solo Together Team, and the new 'Ice Queen.'
Thursday 29th January 2004
Mike called at 20.00 GMT (Just out of bed)  As the Team were about to board the Twin Otter, they saw Pen Hadow and Simon Murray coming in, so all ran to the Pole to give them a noisy welcome. (See/hear Mark's video clip )  Solo Together - became 'meeters and greeters'.
" It was just fantastic to be there to see the two great men complete their un-supported epic treck.  In addition, Fiona has been able to welcome all this season's treckers in - and that must also be a record first. What a season!"
"Many Base staff came out to wish Fiona goodbye - she has made many friends during her 17 days there - not least because of her two talks at the Base. So - after an emotional farewell to the South Pole, our Team took off for PH. The flight was awesome. We touched down at the Thiel Mountain cache for fuel and I managed to perch on an oil drum alone for a few minutes - a last look at the beauty of the Antarctic desert wastelands.
At present the team are basking in the sunshine in 'thermals', as temp. is a comfortable -10C. Pen and Simon flew in 2 hours after us, and now everyone is awaiting the return of the Ilyushin from Punta, after a tech. snag is fixed."
Mike says " the Team are all well and happy and not surprisingly, nobody seems really interested in going home!"
Wednesday 28th January 2004
Team at the South PoleMike:" We were pleased our photos were sent to you today, so here are the Rendezvous Team and Fiona finally united at the Pole. We all miss Steve, and acknowledge the contribution he made, and the way he must feel being at home when we're here.  Join us when we arrive at Heathrow Steve."
Yorks TV put out an interview this afternoon with photos, and tonight further interviews with BBC, Carlton TV, and Radio 4 were planned before the Team's scheduled take off at 23.30 GMT for Patriot Hills.
Mike is still living to Punta time (GMT minus 3 hours) - poor old Fiona is already into tomorrow, and will have to re-live 16 hours to catch up, .......or is it back, with Mike and the Team!  Jetlag is BIG in Antarctica!

Tuesday 27th January 2004

Lytham St. Annes High Tech. School

What better way to start the day than by receiving a satellite call from Fiona Thornwill in her tent at the South Pole.  All the students involved were at Lytham St. Annes High Tech. School bright and early, at 8.00 in the morning, excited and ready to fire questions at Fiona about her epic journey.


Soon the entrance hall, where this historic event took place, filled up with other pupils and staff, at first just curious then turning into a keen, attentive audience.


The thrill continues for pupils who now bask in reflected glory as they hear of their exploits on the radio, read about themselves in the press and see their pictures linked with hers.


Thanks to teacher (and cousin) Anne-Marie for making this an experience for our pupils to remember and, of course, to Fiona for giving us some of her valuable time.  We wish her and her husband well.

Mary: After Fiona spoke to the school above, Yorks TV called her for a 15 minute conversation.  This was on regional TV this afternoon, with back drop of various photos.

The rest of the day was spent in anticipation - Fi. calling us twice to check on the Argos reading.  Waiting - waiting!

Monday 26th January 2004

Mary & Roger: Fiona is getting excited now, as it seems certain that Mike and the Team could be at the Pole late tomorrow.  She sent Birthday Greetings to Rosie, 44yrs old yesterday, but was saddened to hear that Rosie's son has chicken pox, so cannot see her just yet. As a result of her journey, her immune system may not be able to cope with a virol infection.
The live link with Wye Valley School Bourne End was a huge success. We have a photograph here of the Media students listening to Fiona's answers as they interviewed her for the school magazine, 'Snippets'.
A similar link tomorrow with Lytham St. Annes High Technology College where Fiona's cousin is a teacher. This is followed by a live link with Yorks TV, who forecast lots of show in UK, so want to talk to the 'Snow Queen'.
Sunday 25th January 2004
Mary & Roger: Fiona called to check on the Rendezvous team's progress - just 31 miles to go this morning. She's now been waiting for 'her man' for 15 days, and just like 'buses, a group will come together! Two or three days to go now - dependant on the sastrugi.
Tomorrow and Tuesday Fiona will be doing live links to two schools - Wye Valley School, Bourne End, Bucks., and Lytham St. Annes High Technology College, Lancs. Both will have eager questioners ready at 08.30 for the telephone to ring.  After Friday's success with WBJS Nottingham, we expect these pupils to have an exciting start to their week. Fingers crossed the charges up OK.
Friday 23rd January 2004
Mary: A very happy Fiona this morning - she really sounded like her 'old self'. Yesterday's talk at Amundsen-Scott Base went down so well that she has been asked to do another today. Getting into practice for when she returns to UK, we think. 
The link with the West Bridgford Junior School children went well after a shaky start.  At the time Fiona was due to call, a parent named Fiona also phoned the school, and had been asked several questions by the children before everyone realised it was the 'wrong' Fiona.  Eventually everything connected correctly, and the children enjoyed talking to Fiona at the South Pole. They asked many questions, which Fiona later told us were 'well thought out'. Later an older group, on a world map in the playground, enacted Fiona's journey to Chile, the flight into Patriot Hills ( with lots of arm waving), and then a 'slow trudge' to the Pole. It was great to see the children participating in 'living history'. This was shown at lunchtime on BBC TV East Midlands today. 
For all the Exchange Road Junior School children reading this on the website - VERY WELL DONE everyone.
Thursday 22nd January 2004

Mary: Fiona was invited into the Amundsen-Scott Base today to talk about her journey. She was well received by 50+ US polar personnel, and she was warmly applauded at the end.

Fi. saw matty and her team briefly, and had a big hug. They took off after only a few hours at the Pole, and on their way to Patriot Hills, overflew Mike and the Team.

The Ilyushin has at last flown the completed travellers back to Punta, so Rosie is on her way home at last.

Wednesday 21st January 2004
Mary: Fiona made brief call this morning.  She is fine, and has seen Matty's team arrive. Fiona is doing a live broadcast with Exchange Road Junior School, West Bridgford on Friday morning. A special day for James, who put one of the first messages on this website.
Hopefully, - only six days to wait now for Mike and the Team.
Tuesday 20th January 2004
Mary: Fiona called at 19.30  - she had just woken up. She spoke to Mike last night, so knew they were getting nearer, and the team were in good spirits.
Rosie, Steve, the Koreans, and others still await their flight to Punta. Unfortunately the winds remain too turbulent for the Ilyushin.  It seems that patience is very necessary on this continent: the highest, dryest, windiest and coldest in the world.
Monday 19th January 2004
Mary: Very little to add to Fiona's diary.  She remains well, but feels a bit like a hippie, and wants to be a girl again.  Oh for a bath - oils - perfume -nail varnish, and above all a hair do!
Sunday 18th January 2004
Mary: Fiona surprised the congregation at Holy Trinity Church Southwell today. She telephoned the Vicar, and her voice was relaid through the nave loudspeakers. She thanked everyone for their prayers and support. Although not able to contact anyone on her journey, she said that she never felt alone.
Tonight Fiona phoned PH, and spoke to Steve, who said he was feeling much better. She also spoke to Rosie still waiting for the winds to drop to allow the Ilyushin to come from Punta - she promised to send Fiona a goodie bag!
Weather today - broken cloud with 16kts wind, reducing the temperature from -28C to -52C.  As the barometric pressure fell, the 9301ft asl became the equivalent of 10500 ft. Not quite sunbathing weather!
Hang in there Fi. Mike is on his way.
Saturday 17th January 2004
Mary: Fiona reported that they had a good chat with Mike last night. Needless to say she was most concerned to learn of Steve's illness - she reassured us that Mike had the situation under control, and Steve was comfortable.
Fi. was feeling much better today, having consumed 'real food' from the 'goodie bag', and then slept well. She said she was 'roasty-toasty' in her sleeping bag.
Weather today was sunny at first with no breeze, only -30C, but later cloud came down as did the temperature to -47C as the wind came too!
Fi. is looking forward to Matty arriving with her team in a couple of days - meeting and greeting again.
Friday 16th January 2004

Mary: Fiona touched base this afternoon, and says her emotions are all over the place - affected by an adrenaline rebound. She keeps re-reading messages, and feels weepy when she thinks of Mike. It is now over 8 weeks since she saw him.She said "The teamwork we have shared will move their relationship to a new level".

Physically she is OK excpt for some frostbite on her face - nothing too serious. One sore was infected, but OK now. She also has a lesion onher ches, her side, and on her knees, but nothing as bad as she had on previous expeditions. Sleeping is difficult, and Fi. is spending her time catching up with her diary and read bokks dropped to her. There was a lovely surprise today. Fran, the cook at PH, sent Fi. a 'goody bag' containing fresh bread, a home made cake, a stew and fresh fruit. Rosie had left Fi. some parmesan cheese, so she had her first polar sandwich. Very enjoyable. Love to all friends and family, and thanks for the many messages. Weather - parchy cloud with light breeze, Temp. -47degC.

Thursday 15th January 2004

Mary & Roger: It was good to hear from Fiona today (Pictured here with with Rosie Stancer). She said she felt a bit lonely now her mate Rosie had left for Patriot Hills and home. With wind chill today, the temperature today was -46C, and for the first time her hands almost froze, as she helped Rosie dismantle her tent ready to go. Fiona now awaits the arrival of Matty's group in about four days. Fi really is the permanent 'Meeter and Greeter'.

We have today received some wonderful photos down the wire, which you will see in the press shortly - we hope. Get the Newark Advertiser tomorrow folks. Thanks Jo. (Photos by T.L.Gacke. 2004)

Wednesday 14th January 2004

Mary: Rosie arrived last night, and about an hour later met with Fiona. They had a big hug.Fiona knew the flights were grounded, so helped Rosie to pitch her tent etc. Then they partied and chatted about their various experiences. Fi. said "it was marvellous to have a team mate to talk to." Tomorrow morning they will have breakfast together - very civilised.

Fi. calls every day to check on Mike's group and any other news - including some of the many messages via her website. CBS and Good Morning America have contacted her for interviws, - in fact Fi. is still amazed at the world interest in her achievement.

Fiona and Rosie are superb role models of determination and dedication. They have put the 'Great' back into Great Britain.

Quote today from Stephanie Moore:

"I saw all the coverage on Fiona in the papers yesterday. Congratulations to Fiona. What a remarkable woman she must be."

Regarding the Korean situation - see link below. The recognised distance to the pole from the sea ice at Hercules Inlet is 700 miles. Since the Koreans were in the same plane as Fiona when they landed at Hercules Inlet, we wonder where the Koreans went on the way to make 837miles? We didn't realise that detours counted! 

Tueday 13th January 2004

Roger. We wondered what might go wrong on the 13th, and all was well till 16.00GMT when the bombshell exploded! Explorers web's Tom Sjogren telephoned, asking if we had seen the online Korean Times story which suggested that Fiona had actually started 16 miles inland of Hercules Inlet!  Needless to say we had NOT seen it!

Four hours later, after telephone calls to France, America, and Fiona at the SouthPole we had incontravertible documentary and witness evidence as proof that Fiona started precisely where she should have, and that her satellite track showed her progress at walking speed from that point. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. I'm not sure what that is in Korean.  At the time of writing, we are not aware of any response from the Korean Times, who carried the story under the name of Kim Hyun-cheol, using quotes from Park Young-seok who is currently at the South Pole with the Korean Team. The outcome of our research is shown in the copy email sent to the Editor of The Korean Times, ( we suggest you view the links also)

Dear Sir,

We would like to bring attention to your story of today about Mr. Park reaching the South Pole. The story contains some serious mistakes regarding Mrs. Fiona Thornewills starting point. is the worlds leading website on Polar and Mountaineering news, run by former polar skiers and Himalayan mountaineers. We are in constant contact with all the polar skiers. According to your story Mr. Park stated that Mrs. Fiona Thornewill was airlifted for 30 km inland. This must be a translation mistake or a misconception by Mr. Park. We have today studied the official Argos beacon positions from Mrs. Thornewills first two days on the ice, and they make clear that she started at the “correct” starting point, and was not airlifted inland. Pls check

We will be happy to assist with any questions you have.

Best Regards,

Tom Sjogren

ExplorersWeb Inc.
Monday 12th January 2004
Mary: Long chat with Fi. today, and continue to be amazed how well she seems. However she is quite tired physically and emotionally; also the 10,000ft altitude is affecting her still.
As we spoke the cloud came down and the temperature plummeted to minus 30C, but she assures us she is warm and coping well.
We managed to pass on some of her 'congratulatory' emails (we have stored over 300 now)  Messages today from Liv. Arnesen, Victor Serov (The Russian Bear), Sir Andrew Buchanan, and the Korean team who will reach Fiona in a couple of days - having started on the 30th Nov as well!
Let's hope the Sat phone behaves as Fiona has about 10 media interviews with both UK ( inc. Daily Mirror) and USA channels.  She seem bewildered by the world-wide media interest - she still doesn't realise the magnitude of her achievement.
Sunday 11th January 2004

Mary: It's been an even busier day than usual here. We have acknowledged over a 100 congratulatory messages, answered numerous phonecalls, and entertained the Media in droves. We are now waiting desperately for pictures from the Pole, and trying to make time slots for Fiona to talk to the hungry media. You will be pleased to know she was warmly welcomed at Amundsen-Scott Base. Only minus 28C outside she said.

Fi. sounded in excellent spirits, and said she felt very well, although tired and overwhelmed by her achievement. She described her experience walking towards the Polar Dome in cloud, when she emerged into sunshine for the last few hundred metres to the actual POLE. She told us she called out as she reached the South Pole: " Mike, I don't believe I've done this, - so surreal and very emotional!"

Nice message from Pen Haddow today:

"This is a truly fantastic achievement, not only for you and your adventurer husband Mike, your family, friends and supporters, but wonderful news for Britain. As well as being the queen of Britain s prestigious group of ice maidens, you are now the fastest person to have ever trekked to the South Geographic Pole. To travel unsupported for 700 miles in 42 days is brilliant in the extreme as Fiona has endured many hardships and perilous conditions. It is a truly phenomenal feat!"

Saturday 10th January 2004 - Day 42
Mary & Roger (22:59 GMT) 10/01/2004.
She's there!
Fiona has arrived safe and well at the South Pole in a sensational 42 days.

Roger (12.00 GMT): STOP PRESS Fi. has eaten her penultimate 'Mother's Pudding' STOP PRESS. Watch this space!

Friday 9th January 2004 - Day 41
Mary: Yet another 'scare!' - Fi. programmed the Argos tracker wrongly again, so we had to sweat it out until she cancelled and started moving. We can only think she is getting very tired, or has 'lost' the instructions!  Temperatures have risen to minus 14C today in her 'bumbag' - a relief after the temperatures of yesterday.  This change suggests that the cloud base has lifted. We are aware that our report lacks variety, but with only approximate read-outs to interpret, the figures are much the same - until the SOS!  (We are thinking of renaming our house,'Bletchley Park'. We feel Fiona qualifies as the 'ultimate enigma!' 
All in all, the star that she is, Fiona is keeping right on track, with her eyes focussed and her feet moving unerringly towards her goal. God bless.
Thursday 8th January 2004 - Day 40

Mary: Mike tells us today that there is very little wind over the polar region - this a bad thing for them, since it will not clear the cloud from the higher ground up country.  However for Fiona it is a small blessing, as we believe she is walking in cloud at about 8500 ft so cold as it is (minus 23C says 'bumbag'), -it could be even worse with a windchill factor!  Fiona moves steadily on towards her goal - no doubt buoyed by the thought that Mike is well on the way to meet her.  The realisation that she will soon see and speak to another human, after all these weeks of 'bear-talk', will no doubt stop her thinking of herself as 'Goldilocks!'Dear Fiona, keep going, all will be well.

Finally a message received today from Dermot Fitzpatrick. Regional Chairman. Academy for Chief Executives: 
"I believe that we all have within us a dream to do something daring and courageous, ‘Something Special’ that perhaps we and others didn’t think we could. It inspires me to know that at this moment you are somewhere out there living your dream and doing your ‘Something-Special’ both for yourself and the rest of us. I wish you god-speed and the inner resources to continue with safety on your journey, and I hope to be in the audience when you return to tell the story of your incredible experiences."

Wednesday 7th January 2004 - Day 39
Roger: Anniversary day on Friday for Fi.,  - it will be a month since she could use her!  For someone who is a 'loner' or perhaps a 'nerd', isolation with an inanimate object is a daily occurrence.
For Fiona however, as we all know, the 'laughing, talking ultimate party girl' this experience will be 'utter hell'. 
Poor Fi. So that's the down side.
THE UP SIDE - is the determination and courage she is showing in pushing on relentlessly towards her chosen goal. 
What a truly amazing story her diaries will tell!  What personal motivation she will be able to demonstrate at her lectures via Speakers Corner - to Business and Public alike! 
What inspiration she will give to young and old to 'GO FOR THEIR GOALS', despite everything the world can throw at you - you have to dodge, duck, weave, change direction and above all 'want to succeed' - whatever it takes to reach your goal,  -only then you can you confidently 'Fly with the Eagles!' 
An email from 15yr old Fire Cadet Steven from Thetford yesterday, asking how to get onto expeditions?  He is already doing the Duke of Edinborugh's Silver Award - I have already replied to him that Mike started like that.
Message just in from Monty Halls, a former Royal Marine who is making a name for himself as a pioneering adventurer and expedition leader. 
His message is: “Having seen my fellow Royal Marines struggle through white outs and icy snow drifts during our Arctic training, I am in awe of what you are attempting. We are following you with bated breath, and wish you the very best in your extraordinary journey. Strong heart, straight back, and the best of luck!”
An exceptional day yesterday covering 19 miles.
Hats off to Fiona, and Rosie too, - pray for them as they near the end of their epic struggles against the elements (and technology!)
Tuesday 6th January 2004 - Day 38

Mary: Fiona continues to battle her way to the pole, but we have no idea of the current environment. We read of other expeditions avoiding crevasses and the 'wrong sort of snow', we can only guess that she is experiencing similar conditions - but without the ability to comment! As you see, Mike and the Team are held up in Punta awaiting suitable flying weather. We feel quite frustrated today, since every day's delay for Mike, is an extra day for Fi. to wait to rendezvous. She is in 'blissful ignorance!' Joking apart, we are very concerned that Fi. is getting the rough end of the Antarctic - which has it's own rules. We hope she can sense the many good wishes and loving support that are being sent through cyber-space. God bless Fiona, and keep her safe.

Monday 5th January 2004 - Day 37
Mary & Roger: The climb to the polar plateau continues apace. We cannot be sure of the weather, but yesterday Matty McNair reported that her party dined 'alfresco!
This probably accounted for Fi's fantastic 17 mile day. She must be encouraged to know that Mike should be on the ice by now.  Who knows - she may even hear the plane?
Fi. seems to have had two breaks so far today - lunch at 1pm, and tifiin at 3.30.  Sounds almost civilised - one must keep up the British standards you know!  Temperature in Fi.s bumbag around minus 11C most of the day.
Comment from Mike when he first saw the photos from Hercules Inlet,"Doesn't she look relaxed and happy!"  Perhaps she had already finished the treck in her mind - a positive vision of the days ahead.

Message from Miss Hartley: "Good luck with the expedition. Mike, please give Fiona a big hug when you meet her at the pole. Looking forward to meeting her at the airport after her triumphant return."

Sunday 4th January 2004 - Day 36
Mary: No code scares today, which was quite a relief.  Fiona's journey moves on relentlessly. She seems able now to walk in whatever conditions this remote continent throws at her. No one should underestimate the sheer guts and determination of this remarkable lady.
Prayers have been said in Southwell Trinity Church this morning for both Fiona and Rosie - asking for a safe return to their loved ones. 
Many more messages of goodwill have been received today via the website to spur Fiona on. Another great day.
In Fi's own words: "Go Fi. Go!"
Saturday 3rd January 2004 - Day 35
Mary & Roger: Spare a thought for Fiona in her tent last night at minus 17degC. We think she got up about 03:30 (local time), for a cuppa? The temp. rose a little. She was on her way by 08.00. However, before that, she gave us a scare because she selected the wrong code on the Argos, and sent an emergency message instead of the innocuous code as yesterday.  Thankfully, she deleted it 20 mins later!  When we phoned the Punta Arenas office to clear the emergency, they had already done so, and said it was a good thing, since the weather at Patriot Hills was not flyable! Thanks Rachael.
The early start suggested a good day, the temperature dropping to minus 14degC by 10.00.  Since then has risen steadily to minus 7degC at 5pm local. Bear in mind this tracker is in Fi.s 'bumbag' when walking, so does not register the true outside temperature.
Many e-mails keep arriving from well-wishers.  All are acknowledged and stored for Fi's return. We know she would be delighted with this world-wide support.  Messages arrived from Korea and Belgium today
Keep saying your prayers for her, everyone.
Friday 2nd January 2004 - Day 34
Mary & Roger: Fiona was warmer last night - averaging minus 7deg.C. She "spoke to us" this morning by sending an innocuous signal on the Argos for one satellite pass - at 06.30 her time. The temperature is now firmly below OdegC all day, showing that she is now climbing up to the polar plateau - minus 10degC is the norm.  Despite Mike's comments otherwise on her map reading skills, she is following the pre-agreed line of longitude pretty closely, avoiding known crevase areas.  Only 13 miles today, - so perhaps the lower temperatures indicate also that the weather is not so good.
Thursday 1st January 2004 - Day 33
Mary & Roger: Being unable to talk to Fiona, we have to interpret the figures from the Argos tracker - one of which is the local temperature. This was today:
We were concerned that it was Fiona's coldest sleeping time yet, showing minus 15C in her tent. As the sun rose, it improved to minus 8.5C. Suddenly at 07.30 local time temp. was +3.5C then to +9C by 08.30. (We think she had a Newyear's Morning Party!)
As Fiona struck camp, temp dropped immediately to + 5C and as the day moved on, back to minus by mid day. The temp rose suddenly at 15.00 local as Fiona 'lunched', then varying about minus 2-4C to the end of her travelling day.
It must have been a great party with Pudsey the sledge, and Spencer, Growler and Tiny the three bears, as Fiona achieved a cracking 15 miles today.
Wednesday 31st December 2003 - Day 32
Mary & Roger: In spite of falling temperatures during the climb towards the polar plateau.  Fiona has travelled well today, covering 15.1 miles. It appears to be sunny, but it is difficult to tell because this amazing lady travels in all weather conditions.
Happy New Year greetings to Fiona from all her family and friends, and we know she would have returned these if only she could talk to us. Fiona herself probably celebrated with one of her Mother's 'message' puddings!
Probably the greatest joy at this time for her will be the knowledge that Mike and the Team are on their way to meet and greet her.
Tuesday 30th December 2003 - Day 31

Mike (24:00 GMT): 'Fiona appears to have had poor weather today. I cannot be sure, but the temperature in her bum bag was only -10C this afternoon - which is a definate record low. I expect the real temperature was below - 20C - maybe with a biting wind and no sun. Not fun. In fact from here on, the temperature will continue dropping. It falls for two reasons; one Fiona is past halfway and gaining altitude as she follows the long ascent to the Polar Plateau at nearly 10,000 feet. The other reason; is the Antarctic summer is drawing to an end and each day after 21st December, the temperature falls by an average of a third of a degree.

In two weeks time, on the plateau, Fiona will face temperatures down to -40C (plus windchill). Right now though, Fiona will be more pre-occupied with dragging 73Kg of Pudsey and her three bears up the rolling hills. This punishing climb, at altitude, will test every reserve of Fiona's remaining strength. I cannot help but wonder how she feels - and what she is thinking. It's now over three weeks since she made verbal contact - and still a long way to go. I think Fiona's taking 'solo and unsupported' to a new level!

Anyway, hopefully, I'll soon be finding out first hand about Fiona's secret journey, because tomorrow I fly with my own team to commence the 'Rendezvous expedition' - to bring Fiona home. My bags are packed and I'm ready to take my turn on the other side of this screen...

Updates will continue (shortly) on both 'Fiona's diary pages' and also on the 'Rendezvous team diary pages.' Reports will operate in conjunction with my step father; Roger Allton - who has considerable experience managing expedition comms.

As I finish writing, I believe my data shows Fiona back in the tent - having demolished more miles. Some days, her progress quite amazes me. Hang in there Fi! I'm coming to get you!!!'

Monday 29th December 2003 - Day 30

Mike (24:00 GMT): 'Fiona is having a long day - and as I write - still walking. Today marks her 30th day on the ice - nothing to us back home - but possibly an eternity to Fiona. Antarctica is a place where time slows down. Sometimes it's fantastic - sometimes purgatory. It depends how you feel - each day bringing different emotions. Good thoughts are played over - and bad ones will tear your soul. Antarctica does this. It tells who you really are.'

Mike (15:00 GMT): I'm not exactly getting a lot of sleep these days - certainly not until 0245hrs. Only then, can I be certain Fiona is back in her tent. Anyway, whatever 'technical problems' Fi had yesterday - they didn't show in her mileage. In fact, just now I can see she's on the move again - and showing a rather welcome '00.' - Though not sure if the weather's good as the sensor in her bum's hovering around the zero mark. Another factor I'm now taking into consideration is the altitude. Fiona has climbed to around 5000 feet, which means the temperature is slowly dropping. Presently I'd expect c. -15C/-17C plus wind-chill. Anyway, let's see what today's adventure brings. Come on Fi hang in there! - Milestone Mars bar tonight!'

Sunday 28th December 2003 - Day 29

Mike (15:40 GMT): Fiona is moving south - unknown difficulties at this time.

Mike (14:30 GMT): Fiona is again transmitting 'code 34' - technical difficulties. Still not sure what she means. No progress seen at this time.

Mike (14:00 GMT): 'Fiona is presently transmitting 'code 187' meaning sat. phone problem. This is Fiona's way of telling us, she's up and about - but would like to call in. If we could speak, I'd have some amazing messages to give. Fi has received 'inspired' and 'inspiring' emails from all over. One in particular, a girl age 8, who said: "Dear Fiona, thank you for giving me the courage to say 'no.' My friends wanted me to do something I didn't want - so I thought of you, and said no. I feel happier now." Fiona's had a few more celeb emails too: Pen Haddow, John Regis, Roger Black, Chris Moon, Sally Gunnell, Mike Noel Smith, John McCarthy and Rosie and William Stancer. The pile on the desk grows daily and I thank every one of you out there for sending such kind messages. They bring so much purpose to what Fiona's great journey is all about - that with a little inspiration and courage, we can achieve almost anything we put our mind to. What is your South Pole Solo?'

Saturday 27th December 2003 - Day 28

Mike (24:00 GMT): 'Yesterday was a tad stressful - wondering what Fiona meant by 'code 34' - technical difficulties. I decided it had to be one of four things: Ski and binding problems, compass or GPS problems, sledge problems, or difficult terrain - maybe with poor visibility. Clearly whatever it was, slowed Fiona's progress noticably. I saw tell tale zig zags in her route - which made me wonder about crevassing - but she did not activate the code for crevasses - so I cannot be sure. In any event, once in camp - 'code 00' was transmitted - so allowing us both to sleep!

Today Fi transmitted 'code 00' - to my relief - and is now progressing south at her normal speed - as usual in a really straight line. I find really interesting how Fiona was 'majorly' concerned about navigation before setting off - and how accurately she now holds a heading - in any weather. - Mind you, she still can't read a map.

Friday 26th December 2003 - Day 27

Mike (15:15 GMT): 'Fiona is moving, but has activated 'code 34.' This means technical difficulties. I do not know if this means equipment problems or terrain problems. Fiona, we are watching closely and sending positive thoughts.'

Mike (14:00 GMT): 'The Theil Mountains must be fairly prominent on Fiona's Western horizon this morning. And I bet when Fiona peers out her tent she'll be feeling fairly chuffed with herself and looking forward to the reward of another milestone cake. The Theils represent 'halfway' and are the only significant features of this great southern journey. These 9000 foot mountains also signify the point where old and new Antarctica meet. For this reason, there is an increased risk of crevassing - and so for the next few days I will be watching Fi's reports ever more vigilantly. In 1999 we crossed many narrow and mostly 'closed' crevasses. Let's hope they stay that way for the next few days... Beyond the Theils beckons the ascent to the high Antarctic plateau around 10,000 feet. Here Fiona will face new challenges - altitude and really cold temperatures down to - 35C. In my opinion, this stage is the more exciting - with most of the physically and mentally demanding section past. No place for complacency though - crevasses and storms don't suddenly stop here.'

Thursday 25th December 2003 - Day 26

Mike (22:00 GMT): 'Fiona is flying. She rose earlier today - clearly no presents to open. Perfect weather. Temperature in her bum bag hit +12C just now. Must be no wind - only sun. Strange how Christmas weather is often kind. Fiona appears to be on a mission. No doubt frustrated missing her 15 minute family phone call - the energy's gone straight to her legs - and encouraged by the Theil Mountains - a yardstick with which to measure distance at last. We at home are missing her cheery voice - but are we proud! GO FI GO!'

Wednesday 24th December 2003 - Day 25

Mike (24:00 GMT): The weather appeared somewhat mixed today. I don't think it was windy - too much distance gained for that. I think the morning was cloudy - but certainly the afternoon brought sun as the temperature in Fiona's bum bag soared to +7C. Hey Fi, mind your chocolate doesn't melt... And no worrying codes received today thank goodness. Tonight, Rosie has an open invite to her Christmas Eve drinks party. I can't believe it, an Antarctic Christmas party and we can't get the message through to Fi! She never misses a party...

I know Fiona wanted to call Rosie tonight and send Christmas greetings - so I send them instead. Still, at least Fiona can snuggle up to a hot chocolate with Growler, Spencer and Tiny. I wonder she's remembered to leave a mince pie and carrot in the porch...

Mike: (14:00 GMT): 'Fiona's alarm clock goes off. It's six o'clock - five hours twenty behind GMT. Fiona's private time zone, ensuring her sun shadow faces South at midday. It keeps her true. A glance at her watch, then her shadow - each hour falling fifteen degrees further left. All day, she wills it from right to left. Six o'clock. Stop. And camp. Another day done. Yesterday Fiona continued to demolish the miles. Her status remains: 'All okay.' I so wanted to speak to her and read some of the daily emails - the pile she has is enormous. And thank you for them. Every email received is a kind and thoughtful act by somebody, but sometimes you see one that stands out. I'd like to read a short paragragh sent in a long email to Fiona:

'You are here today and gone tommorrow. One day you are born, the next you're going to die. In between is a dash that will appear on your tombstone. Don't take life too seriously, you are just dust, yet stardust that has a twinkle in your eye. If this task ahead is a part of your self expression, a reflection of your part in the universe, then enjoy the journey so that others can enjoy it with you. See all the ups and downs, twists and turns, as your opportunity to learn from the universe rich tapestry that is life - and Carpe Diem - seize the day - your chance to leave a legacy and embroider for future generations to chart, follow and build upon. Fiona, here is to praying that you make this day your masterpiece.'

Kris Akabusi MBE.

...Powerful words indeed. Come on Fi, the Theils are beckoning you!'

Tuesday 23rd December 2003 - Day 24

Mike (17:00 GMT): 'Another unexpected message received today: 'code 34' This means 'technical difficulties - continuing.' Not quite sure what Fiona means by this - perhaps it's simply her way of talking to me. Anyway whatever, she's up and walking - so that's good. I also received some strange readings from the ARGOS battery state indicator just now, although it seems to have cleared itself again. I do hope it stays that way.

Other news; Like Fiona, both Rosie and Matty reported record mileages yesterday. Matty reported 16.2 nautical and Rosie 17 miles (not sure if that's statute or nautical) - but way either these terrific mileages do suggest Fiona is also enjoying good travel conditions. - And maybe those distant Theil mountains will start growing in Fiona's South Western horizon later today... Fingers crossed!'

Mike: (12:00 GMT): Fiona is up and about weather looks okay. Heard from the Northwinds expedition that yesterday Fiona would have enjoyed perfect weather. Cloudless, no wind and brilliant sunshine. Any time now, Fiona might just be able to see the Theil Mountains on the far horizon. So, the magnet of half way will soon be luring her on...

Monday 22nd December 2003 - Day 23

Mike (24:00 GMT): 'Fiona has just made camp - and my calculations are showing yet another record mileage. Status is '00' at this time. Guess she had perfect conditions today. - Fi, just take care of that ARGOS... you're doing so well. I just wish I could tell you.

Mike (14:00 GMT): Fiona is up and cooking breakfast - the temperture in her tent a pleasant + 4C right now. I guess the wind's gone and sun's out again. No doubt she's relishing this respite from the elements and looking forward to a nicer day. - An extract from Fiona's previous South Pole diary: " My day was good and I felt strong, particularly leading the last hour. Found a hill to really charge up. Loved it! Geoff warned me to watch for crevasses, but I didn't see any. He was so amusing today; at one point when I was pushing hard, my sledge went heavy, I looked behind, there was Geoff lying in the snow, hanging on to the back of it yelling: "Justina! Slow down!" Apparently, Justin had suggested I should be called 'Justina,' because it's normally him who goes too fast. It was a fun day and I'm glad to be here. Tonight we camped in deep snow, which made my feet go cold. It's a great site though and the views fab. Mountains everywhere. Awesome. It's terrific to know we're really going somewhere. We will do this challenge!" - Antarctica can be Heaven and Hell.

Sunday 21st December 2003 - Day 22

Mike (23:00 GMT): 'Over the past few hours Fiona's averaged 41 minutes per nautical mile (1.15 statute miles). Quite often now, I'm detecting subtle variations in her speed owing to prevailing weather or surface conditions. And currently this figure suggests Fiona's up against either a headwind or maybe passing through an area of soft snow. But at least her sledge should be getting lighter now - and by the end of the day it will weigh an almost reasonable 86.5 Kg. - Similar to our starting weight for the South Pole back in 99. Although a reduction of 40 Kg from the starting weight sounds lighter - in reality you hardly ever feel it. Normally you only see improvements in distance travelled for a given period.

Coming up next on Fiona's journey, are some minor course corrections designed to take Fiona gradually over to the West. This avoids an increased crevasse risk on her present heading of 80W. I know Fiona would have appreciated hearing my re-assurances - but soon she'll have to trust her own judgement - whilst I watch. Anyway, lets hope Fiona finds making camp tonight easier than last night - because putting a tent up 'alone' in a Antarctic gale can be a desperate thing. In fact only last year, a strong team of British ladies - spent the night out, having failed to erect their tent in the face of overpowering winds en route to the North Pole - not great news.'

Mike: (13:00 GMT): Last night Fiona activated the code for 'high winds.' This is unusual. I must assume therefore; it is extremely windy out there right now. The temperature inside her tent fell to - 9C during the night. As this is colder than normal, I guess cloudy or whiteout conditions together with the high wind prevailed. However, Fiona deactivated the code in the early hours to '00.' Therefore, either the wind abated or Fiona's concerns were alayed. Right now, Fiona is up having breakfast as the temperature has just risen above zero. Hopefully we will see movement in a couple of hours. Maybe the weather is perfect today. Let's hope it is!

Saturday 20th December 2003 - Day 21

Mike: (20:00 GMT): 'Today, two matters have presented themselves which make grim reading: The first matter concerns correspondance from the ARGOS tracking centre in France: Apparently person/s unknown, on the 18th December managed to re-direct Fiona's tracking data for their own personal benefit. This meant for a period of four hours no information of Fiona's status was possible at a crucial time of day. Not only did this prompt discussions about Fiona's welfare, it caused unnecesary anxiety to those concerned. This deplorable act is now being investigated as a criminal offence. It placed Fiona's welfare and her expedition at risk. Right now, the ARGOS is Fiona's only life-line.

Fiona and I were aware at an early stage of a certain pressure to divulge position information. We agreed if challenged, we would respond with the following statement:

"In England there are some who wish to make a race between Rosie Stancer and Fiona Thornewill. Fiona has absolute respect for Rosie and her ideals. Fiona will not lower herself to become involved in any kind of competition. Fiona has elected not to divulge position information - or for that matter, 'receive' position information relating to Rosie. Fiona does not see Antarctica as a venue for a race - and although there is understandable appeal in reaching to the South Pole first - there are more important reasons for her being there. Fiona's journey is about 'self-discovery' in a unique wilderness. It's about Fiona's genuine love of inspiring people to take bold steps themselves - and setting the example. It is about making her own personal life statement - that she did this without anyone holding her hand. Further, Fiona has concerns that external pressure may create a temptation for either party to push too hard and be endangered. She does not want this on her conscience. Fiona stated in Punta Arenas: Her ideal is to find herself near Rosie in the closing stages - and walk in side by side. Fiona is operating a carefully considered timetable and is adhering to it. I hope that makes the position clear for anyone who feels they need an explantion."

The second matter today: Is that Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodhill (attempting to make a first Polar circumnavigation of the Earth by helicopter) crashed in an area north of Patriot Hills in bad weather. Jennifer is wife of Simon Murray - who at 63, is presently attempting to become the oldest person to walk to the South Pole. He is being guided by Pen Hadow - several miles from Fiona's current position. Thank God - both survived. (Albeit with various injuries). We are again reminded; Antarctica can be a hazardous place for travel - whether on foot or in the air and I would like to commend the professionalism of 'Antarctica Logistics and Expeditions' for their prompt and efficient rescue in the face of apalling weather. The circumstance of Simon Murray right now - tent bound in 50 knot winds - cannot be great knowing his wife and friend Colin have been involved in such a dreadful accident. I am sure he would be delighted to hear a few messages of support at this difficult time. Simon and Pen's website can by accessed via under the section 'The Poles.' No doubt you will see a full update here in due course. - The world of Polar adventurers is a special one - and instances like this remind of the dangers faced and the kindred spirit which links us all. - Remember how only last week, how Jennifer and Colin went to check on Fiona's welfare... On behalf of Fiona and myself we send kind thoughts to all concerned and - and are simply relieved by it not being worse.

I would like to put the above to one side now - and move on: Tracking data is currently showing Fiona travelling south on the correct heading, in what I must assume - are less than ideal conditions. I will update when I know more.'

Friday 19th December 2003 - Day 20
Mike: 'Fiona's progress slowed a little today and I couldn't be sure why. The temperature in her bum bag remained below zero all morning and so I assumed she had either a cloudy day or was travelling in white out. Anyway, I later learned I wasn't far off the mark because Matty McNare reported a day of difficult travel - poor visibility and deep powder snow that saw her team 'tripping over sastrugi.' All things considered Fiona walked a really tight line and pushed out a respectable mileage. - And thankfully no more ARGOS scares today.'
Thursday 18th December 2003 - Day 19
Mike (21:00 GMT): 'Today's update is a little late coming because for some reason the ARGOS positions did not arrive in my e-mail. This caused another few hours of anxiety trying to puzzle out if Fiona's beacon had failed - or if she'd turned it off. Eventually I have everything back on line and can confirm Fiona is moving south at a brisk rate of knots – status 'All okay.' Update to follow later. I hope we get no more of these ARGOS scares!
Wednesday 17th December 2003 - Day 18

Mike (23:00 GMT): Fiona has just pulled into camp after another day of good progress. Her status is '00' - all okay. I am slowly getting the impression Fiona is becoming increasingly organised and focused - as the last few days have seen greater travel consistancy than at any time in the past two weeks. I must say, my heart is nevertheless still somewhat in my mouth each time I log in to her data! Fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow. We will see.

Mike (15:00 GMT): Fiona's just set off - 0745 local time. Temperature in her bum bag +5. So we assume the sun's out again and started the day on the right footing. But in Antarctica, nothing is given. Within 30 minutes, a glorious day may become a two day storm. There is no room for complacency here. Anyway, for a change - an extract from Fiona's previous South Pole diary - Day 18, back in 1999 she wrote: "Well my skin has lots of lumps / spots on it, which are tender and my achillies really hurt today. I prayed all day for the pain to go away. The weather was simply beautiful, but cold - 26C which with a force 3 breeze, was biting. Did 21.9Km today which was great, but at the expense of untold damage to my achillies no doubt. Oh gosh, how we take showers and baths for granted. Staying clean for a girl is such an effort out here - I'd normally never leave home without a shower. What on earth will I be like in another 40 days!"

Tuesday 16th December 2003 - Day 17

Mike: (24:00 GMT) Fiona has just had her best day's progress so far. It appears she up'd the hours walked today by a further half hour. This, together with what I guess were icy surface conditions have allowed her to really press on. I imagine Fiona to be in high spirits tonight ready to pour another day's emotion into her diary. What an interesting read that little book will be... I remember months ago, Fiona saying: "There's no way I'd ever walk to the Pole without a sat. phone.  Well she is now, and her written story will be the more powerful for it... Sleep well Fi.'

Mike (17:00 GMT): Fiona is making good progress right now and showing status 'All okay.' I also have some nearby reports from Matty McNare's expedition: "Northwinds" - of heavy sastrugi up to 1 metre high and some testing inclines. These conditions are probable in Fiona's general area too. The weather is holding fine at this time.

Mike (15:00 GMT): Fiona continues to make excellent progress and therefore I must assume, that yesterday the weather and surface conditions were ideal for travel. By my calculations last night, Fiona's sledge weighs 98.3Kg - finaly under the 100Kg mark! This means Fiona has eaten 24Kg of food and burned 4Kg of fuel. People often ask about her diet. Well let me explain. In the morning she eats 125 grams of Jordon's strawberry crunch cereal with 20 grams of dehydrated milk power. This is washed down by a mug of hot chocolate and a mug of hot water. (Fiona enjoys a mug of hot water at home too.) During the day Fiona chomps her way through 135 gr of mixed nuts (pine nuts are her favourite) and 200 grams of chocolate. She relishes the Green and Black's white chocolate! Lunch 'should' have been pita bread with 70 grams of salami - but since this has gone off - she does without. During the day Fiona drinks one and half litres of fluid. Hot water and an isotonic drink called Viper (made by Maximuscle). Once the tent is up, she makes hot soup. (Tomato, cream of brocolli her top two choices) Dinner is a dehydrated meal provided by (We chose this product because of its simplicity and nutritional value. Around bedtime, Fiona has another round of hot drinks - and probably talks to the bears. Here's to another good day Fi!

Monday 15th December 2003 - Day 16

Mike (19:00 GMT): Fiona is making good progress directly south again today. I have learned from Matty McNare's expedition that surface conditions are now 'sastrugi.' This means Fiona will be dragging Pudsey along terrain that resembles a frozen white ploughed field. There was no mention of weather, so I guess it's another glorious day out there. - Come on Fi! We're all willing you on - you just can't hear us, that's all...

Mike (12:00GMT): The last 48 hours have been a mite stressful, wondering what little ARGOS code Fiona would fire off next. Yesterday, I had another jolt when I saw code code '68.' At first I couldn't remember what it was for. And since most of our 15 agreed codes relate to matters of concern or rescue, I presumed we had another challenge. As it was, this code was: 'Sastrugi.' - Meaning large frozen snowdrifts. (One of only 2 friendly codes we have!) So, I watched with interest yesterday, as Fiona picked up speed and got back on schedule. Clearly, if Fiona did have a medical issue a couple of days ago, it was not apparent in her progress yesterday. I also noticed she navigated a very straight line - so nothing wrong with visibility. I will endeavour to make another update later with her midday progress.

Sunday 14th December 2003 - Day 15
Mike (10:00 GMT) I am pleased to report no code '238' this morning. Everything appears just fine. Fiona had her best day of travel yesterday - whilst we enjoyed our worst day's spectating. Amazing without communication, how one can happily trek off to the horizon whilst others are left wondering. I am able to report from Matty McNare's expedition (not far away) that over the past two days Fiona has battled some big Force 7, gusting 8 winds right on the nose. I am told the skies were cloudless and there has been the most awesome display of grounddrift blasting up to knee height. Days like this may be challenging for travel - but the scene can be unbelievably beautiful. Hoping for another good day.
Saturday 13th December 2003 - Day 14

Mike (15:00 GMT): "When I check the ARGOS reports every two hours, I say a little prayer - Please Lord don't let me see code '238.' Code 238 means: 'Pick-up medical emergency.' This morning everything looked good, although unusually Fiona had altered her ARGOS code during the night to read 'high winds.' I confirmed with Patriot Hills - that indeed they were receiving a battering with 40 knot winds. (About force 8). Not ideal. Then on the next satellite pass into my mail box dropped: '238 - 238.'It makes you feel more than a little bit sick. Obviously ALE were contacted immediately and a decision was made to go to prepare for medical evacuation. The Twin Otter was scrambled from Mount Vinson (in less than perfect weather) to be on emergency standby at Patriot Hills. Thankfully, those pilots are awesomely skilled. I then had to make the painful decision to either wait for the next satellite pass (2 hours) or send in the plane and search for Fiona immediately. So I carefully analysed the available telemetry trying to make sense of it:- Although Fiona had activated the coded for 'high winds' last night, she had reset her ARGOS to 'All okay' for the rest of the night. I also saw the temperature readings were consistent with normal tent occupancy. The was no temperature evidence of tent destruction. The '238' signal was received at the time Fiona would be melting snow for breakfast. Therefore a fire in the tent would be the most likely situation. However, and thank the Lord, just before the rescue was dispatched, an unexpected satellite signal displayed code: '00' - 'All okay.' I therefore held my breath and made the call not to send in the plane for a further half hour. Just now, I received another '00.' And bearing in mind, Fiona does have a code for 'Medical condition or equipment problems - "continuing" - I must assume she is okay at this time. We have to assume either the ARGOS sent a wild card signal or else Fiona made a mistake. I do not know. The latter would surprise me more, knowing how carefully we both practiced with the ARGOS. So at this time, I await the next satellite report at 1646GMT. I would hope to see travel activity at this stage. I would also like praise the quick response of Rachel and all the staff at Antarctic Logistics for their sense of client care and quick reaction to this crisis. I will update the web site c.1700GMT when we expect and hope to know with more certainty, all is well. - There you go,

Mike (18:45 GMT): "Well folks the scare appears to be over. We are now in receipt of telemetry from two further satellite passes: Both are showing Fiona heading south in her usual steady polar plod. (No doubt singing songs to herself, oblivious to the happenings of the past few hours...) Her status code shows 'All okay' and the aircraft and the doctor at Patriot Hills are now stood down. P.H. report windy conditions but with clear skies. Situations like this one, just remind you again, of the absolute enormity of what both Fiona and Rosie Stancer are undertaking down there. I will update when I know more. Nice to be breathing again...

Friday 12th December 2003 - Day 13
Mike (16:30 GMT): The ARGOS locator shows Fiona heading out of camp and trundling steadily south again. She set off a little earlier than yesterday, so hopefully a full day's travel today. I'm going to assume the sun's out based on the temperature in her bum bag - but the wind could be anything. I can't help wondering what's going through her head? Knowing Fiona, she'll be getting over the shock of loosing her comms and starting to re-focus on something positive. Interestingly, ever since Bill was killed in a road accident (Fiona's first husband) she's always sought a positive every situation. I expect she's also reminding herself why she's there - and looking forward to the day when she hear's the sound of the 'Together' team circling overhead - excitedly waving out the aircraft windows. What a magical day that will be... "Go Fi go!"
Thursday 11th December 2003 - Day 12

Mike (23:30GMT): It's not a bundle of fun following Fiona without any contact. She must feel very isolated and alone right now, especially being such a sociable person. I had very much hoped Fiona would call in using the emergency battery - on the off chance I'd found a solution to her situation. Since she didn't, I must assume Fiona has concerns about the limited power remaining in that battery too. But on a positive note, as Fiona would insist: She is continuing steadily south. Although appearing a shorter day, the ARGOS tracker suggests it was a sunny one, because the temperature inside her bum bag (where she keeps it) rose above zero - (occurs when the sun comes out). For now, let's focus positive thoughts to her across the miles. Remember how a few days ago, she said how she could sense people willing her on. So, let's do just that! As I wrote on her skis: "Go Fi go!"

Mike: "Fiona's ARGOS is showing the setting: 'Sat phone problem.' She has not called in for 24 hours now. Last time we had contact - all was well. Her ARGOS position shows Fiona reached her anticipated position last night. 'Status OK.' This will not be an easy time for her - and not a lot of fun for me either. The plan, in the absence of contact is to continue. I will send updates as and when I learn something."

Wednesday 10th December 2003 - Day 11

Foina (11:30 GMT): "I have a major problem. My sat phone battery is virtually flat and refusing to charge on the solar panel. I've set it up as normal, the green light comes on and then mysteriously goes out. I think I have a loose connection or something, but everything I've done so far isn't working. Have you any ideas?"

Mike: Your heart goes out. I made a few suggestions and was able to confirm Fiona's physical status was fine. I then ascertained her emergency battery had some life left before the battery failed. I am left here, hoping Fiona can fathom out her own answer. Certainly, I can still monitor her position via the ARGOS transmitter, but I hate this feeling. It reminds you of the early polar pioneers. I know they had no communications either - but at least they weren't alone. I really hope we can sort this out.

Tuesday 9th December 2003 - Day 10
Fiona (14:00 GMT): "Slept well, though I needed my specially made Helly Hansen shorts to keep me toasty last night. In an ideal world I'd liked a third insulating mat, but in the interests of weight two mats are okay with the fleece shorts. Managing this way though, does give me more flexibility. No wind. Beautiful day. Feet are sore, but at least I can see out my eyes properly again today. So it's all positive out here. Growler, Spencer and Tiny are behaving and have not complained once so far. Gosh, this place is amazingly beautiful on a day like this. I'm hoping for another full day again. All's well and I feel strong. Also, I want to say a big 'thank you' to all the people following and supporting me. I do get your messages, but too many to reply to and very limited power in any case. Signing off until tomorrow morning."
Monday 8th December 2003 - Day 9

Fiona (22:00 GMT): "It's been another beautiful day. I'm calling earlier - before even setting up camp. Virtually no wind, so it's fine even at - 15C. Doesn't feel cold when it's like this. Only one niggle to report; My eyes are rather puffy and my right's partly closed. In fact, my hands are a little swollen too. I'm not sure if it's infected somehow or whether I've caught too much sun. I only take my goggles off for 20/30 minutes a day to make camp, but with no ozone out here maybe that's it. I don't know."

Fiona: "Weather still holding fine, so I expect tonight I will be eating the first of Mum's milestone cakes!"

Sunday 7th December 2003 - Day 8

Mike: (24:00 GMT): The phone rings. As usual my heart jumps. Is Fiona okay? Has her day been another battle? Or has the veil lifted to reveal the magic that is Antarctica on a calm day - a day a lighted candle doesn't flicker. - A white ocean. No movement. No sound. Frozen to an infinite circular horizon. Above, a spectacular dome of cobalt - space. Is this the day she's had?'

Fiona: "Can you here that?" "What?" I ask - concerned. "There's no sound, the wind's dropped and the sun's been out most of today. It's beautiful at last and I've had a thoroughly nice time, although my feet have blisters. I did some singing too, sang 'Lord of all hopefulness out loud' and probably out of tune! But you know what? I feel I have a silent team of helpers with me. At times I really feel people with me. I'm not alone out here Mike. I'm a team member, part of a big team and my job's simply to to the walking bit and that's the way I see it. It was so nice to walk for a full day at last and enjoy my break stops. Looking forward to more days like this one."

Saturday 6th December 2003 - Day 7
Fiona (24:00 GMT): "It's been yet another tough day. The weather remains mostly a white out, and the wind though better, was still blowing a 4 to 5. I never had weather like this back in 1999. The snow is really soft which makes Pudsey drag his heels. Heyho, another slow day but at least I'm still southbound. And, if you're following my web site at Terra Nova; thanks for fitting my removable groundsheet - at least I can go to the loo in comfort!"
Friday 5th December 2003 - Day 6

Fiona (24:00 GMT): "I took one look at the weather this morning and just wanted to stay in bed with my bears. I hate whiteouts, they're a pain to navigate in because you have no perspective of up or down and it's a problem spotting crevasses - which are one of my pet hates. Actually, today was like walking through a glass of milk with somebody trying to whisk it up. Does the wind never stop here? I guess not. Anyway, had a lie in but since I managed yesterday's winds, I decided to face the storm again, but I wasn't a happy hecter. Well I walked 7 and a half hours zig zagging more than ideal, but hey ho. Passed some crevasses without incident this afternoon, which gets your pulse racing, but they're behind me now. The wind's dropped off a little right now and it's still quite mild at - 10C but no visibility at the minute. I'm a happier bunny again. I'm glad I travelled today. It's given me more confidence. I do hope I don't have any more exams tomorrow though."

Mike (19:00 GMT): "Fiona appears to be on the move again."

Fiona (12:00 GMT): "I can't believe it, the wind's up again and I have a white out. I really really don't need this!" Fiona sounded tired this morning and had not made her mind up whether to travel or not.

Thurdsay 4th December 2003 - Day 5

Fiona (24:00 GMT): "Well I got the tent down this morning - then thought sod it, I'll try and walk. Well, it got rather interesting, because I found myself in a situation where the wind got up even more - I reckon about force 9 maybe 10. (50 knot winds were recorded in Patriot Hills today) - I'm not kidding some gusts stopped me dead and it became too windy to erect the tent - so I decided 'to just keep walking.' Navigation was difficult, and spindrift sometimes over my head. I prayed all day long for it to stop. There was nothing else I could do. Well can you believe it? - An hour ago, it suddenly dropped to a steady 3. So I've made camp and now I'm sorting myself out and you know what? Tonight I'm going to burn fuel, dry out and eat a proper meal. I can't tell you how great this is. I'm a real happy bunny and so is Growler, Spencer and Tiny."

Mike (19:00 GMT): Fiona is moving slowly south.

Mike (07:30GMT): "Fiona called just now. As we thought once she got into her sleeping bag last night, the temperature inside the tent fell below zero and the dripping stopped. This morning she said: "It's still blowing hard, sometimes you think it's better and then a big gust comes. You just don't know what it's doing - but at least the sun's out. I don't remember having this much wind out here before. The tent's half buried in a snow drift now, that's good in one way, because it's protecting me, but I think it's time to dig it out. The view out the front door is spectacular - spindrift is being blown waist high across the entire landscape. If possible I'm going to try and move the tent, I may be in a bad spot as I'm at the base of a rise. (Katabatic winds are are strongest at the bottoms of hills) Maybe I'll even be able to get walking, though I wouldn't normally choose move in this, but I don't think I have much choice."

Fiona (00:30 GMT): "I can't stop snow blowing in between the inner and outer tent and it's dripping everywhere. It's not good, the vent simply refuses to seal properly. Do you have any ideas?"

Wednesday 3rd December 2003- Day 4

Mike (23:40 GMT): "Fiona just called in. Sounds like a fairly serious day. She wasn't sure about starting out this morning because of the wind speed, but then decided to give it a go. Apparently she walked directly into a force 4/5 wind, but this afternoon it rose to around force 6/7 and made walking quite difficult. Quote: "I really wondered at times how I'd get the tent up, I was so glad we put a side anchor on the sledge, I wouldn't have been happy trusting a ski stuck in the snow. The tent was twirling every which way when it went up, just a little scary really, but hey ho, it's up now." Fiona explained how her sledge haul line snapped today when the metal crevasse brake attached to the line cut through it. "I've ditched that thing, can't afford to trash my rope every day." Fiona said the wind had made navigation difficult and forced her more east than planned, but she was pleased to say the Nunatuks of 'The Three Sails' were appearing larger in her view. (Nunatuks are the tops of mountains buried deeply in ice.) Fiona finished by saying: "The front of the tent is buckling under the wind, it's worse than the other day so I'm going to sign off now and build more snow up around the tent. I really hope tomorrow's better than this."

Mike (16:00 GMT): "Fiona is again not travelling today. She is pinned down by more high winds. She sounds in good spirits but is understandably frustrated. Fiona reports the temperature inside the tent is quite cool at - 10C. She has no budget for burning the stove to simply keep warm, so this is not ideal when it's only day 4. Tomorrow is another day!"

Tuesday 2nd December 2003 - Day 3

Fiona called at 2300GMT. She reports friendly conditions today. Fiona said: "Seven hours pulling Pudsey was quite enough today and it got quite windy for a time this afternoon. But heyho, I've cleared Hercules Inlet which was my aim and the ground's more level. I think I'm looking at Patriot Hills and the Three Sails in the distance. It's not been particularly cold yet, only around minus 10, but the windchill is something else if you're not covered up well. My GPS suggests I managed fully 10 miles! So I'm really pleased considering Pudsey doesn't seem to like following me."

Mike: "The winds of late have blown from the south, from a clear sky. This suggests they are 'Katabatic winds.' These are winds caused by air falling under the effect of gravity from the high Polar plateau circa 3000 metres (near the South Pole) - hundreds of miles away. They usually build up to create powerful winds - and can occasionaly reach speeds of 200 mph. We don't want any of these."

Monday 1st December 2003 - Day 2

Mike (23:45 GMT): Have just been in contact with Antartica Logistics. Apparently in and around Patriot Hills gusts of up to 60 knots (70mph) have been recorded during the past 24 hours. They also lost one tent. No wonder Fiona's having a rough ride out there but she's still smiling...

Mike (23:00 GMT): Fiona still reports strong winds and spindrift blasting the tent and accepts she's having a rather brutal introduction to the Antarctic climate. Says she feels fine and calm - even a little bored. Fiona has been conserving her food and fuel, particularly pertinent now - as she has found all her pitta bread has gone mouldy. (I assume this happened whilst packed in the sledge on the aeroplane awaiting the flight out.) Always positive, Fiona laughed: "Well thats another 3 kilograms I can throw out!" Mind you out there, every calorie counts so it's not really ideal. We both hope for a better day tommorrow.

Mike: Fiona sounded in great form this morning and was eager to finish her exit from Hercules Inlet. However, after going outside the tent, she found the wind very strong and could barely stand up. Says she is comfortable and will assess conditions later - adding how relieved she was to have pushed hard yesterday.

Sunday 30th November 2003 - Day 1

Mike: "Fiona called after an eleven hour day. She said she pushed hard from her start at 79.54S/80.05W to get 'Hercules Inlet' behind her whilst the weather held. (Hercules Inlet is the starting point of Fiona's route. The first 10 miles essentially being a glaciated ice stream leading from the coast to an elevation of 1800 feet. The route out the Inlet is notoriously windy which causes areas of polished blue ice which need careful negotiation. Visibility is a big asset for this section.) Fiona added, she crossed at least one bridged crevasse and at one point near a small col she had to descend a short icy stretch which she described as "a little bit testy." Fiona didn't mention her sledge weight, but one can imagine hauling the weight of two adults uphill all day must have been interesting. She is now camping in a sheltered hollow, with an increasing wind somewhere near the final stretch leading out the Inlet. She sounds in good spirits and was pleased to report good progress."

Fiona (14:32 GMT): "It's me. I'm in Antarctica. It's amazing, it's absolutely amazing. I'm at Hercules Inlet and I'm alone. (In the background the familiar sound of a Twin Otter screaming past) That's the Twin Otter, they're taking off and leaving me. I'm here all on my own, I can't believe it. I feel quite emotional. Ooooh! look the plane's circling me, they're taking pictures. It's so incredible." Fiona went on: "I feel just fine, I'm going to give my sledge a final check and then I'm going to set off. I've only pulled it ten feet, but at least know I can move it - though it's far from light. Anyway, I can see two possible routes out the Inlet, I think both are possible. I'm going to have to get moving now, I want to get away from the Inlet whilst the weather holds."

09:40 Fiona is at Patriot Hills.

Saturday 29th November 2003

Mike (21:35 GMT ): "Fiona is off to the airport. Flight looking probable at this time."

Fiona (18:50): "Still on standby. Been out for lunch with the Korean team to the most delightful fish restaurant. Fingers crossed I will be on my way soon."

Fiona (12:24): "Just heard on standby for another 2 hours”

Fiona (12:04): "Well last night as we didn’t end up flying - so we all had a party instead - great fun was had by all. Having to make the most of my socialising, as I won’t be doing that for a while! Feeling a bit nervous at the moment which I would say is normal - thinking have I got everything and knowing full well I have - you should have seen the check list Mike and I had - we have double checked and double checked - I think its called a mind game."

Friday 28th November 2003

(PM) "Heyho still no go. But it could all change in 15 minutes, the wind speeds have come down now between 6 - 12 knots but there are black clouds on the horizon so they are being monitored presently. I have literally just heard that I am on standby for another two hours, you guys must be as frustrated as I am, following this. On a positive note I have been for a walk up into the hills for 3 hours today and have now decided to go out for a drink with some friends. After the next weather report I will either be flying or having an early night waiting to see what tomorrow brings."

Fiona: "Well this may not come as any surprise by now - yes I am still in Punta. The wind is gusting 19 - 36 knots - on standby for at least another two hours. Hey-ho it’s positive, as I will definitely be fully over my cold by the time I get out onto the ice. My detox will begin very soon! - as the rest of you get into the Christmas spirit."

Thursday 27th November 2003

(PM 3) Fiona: "Well you’ve guessed it I am not flying today, my next scheduled call is tomorrow morning because the winds have increased. So I’ll have an early night, get some more rest and hopefully get rid of my cold completely before going out onto the ice."

(PM 2) Fiona: "Well the scenario continues my next scheduled call is at 8-8.30pm tonight. The wind is gusting 10 - 29 knots - its getting better but still not a go."

(PM) Fiona: "Just heard I am now on standby until 6 pm tonight - all part of the Antarctic challenge."

(AM) Fiona: "Woken up at 8.15 am today to hear that I maybe flying today – leapt out of bed - shower, packed - a million things going round my head at once! ALE phoned at 9.20am to say I was on standby for another 2 hours, the winds were still too strong but was looking likely. Now on count down as in 25 minutes I will know if it is a go or not. Mike is unaware as he is still flying on his way back to England. This is going to be an emotional roller coaster - but all part of the challenge I have set myself. Good wishes from home and the thought of my friends and family will keep me going and I have my 3 bears for company too plus I know that Mike will be taking every step with me."

Wednesday 26th November 2003
Fiona: "Well the weather did not allow me to fly today - winds were far too strong. A wonderful feeling knowing everything is sorted, checked and re-checked. I have seen Mike off from the airport, which was highly emotional - now won’t see him for two months but I know that he will be walking every step with me. Tonight I am going to pamper myself for sure - a hot bath lots of bubbles and a glass of wine - a memory - along with many I will take out onto the ice."
Tuesday 25th November 2003
Fiona: "Thankfully my cold seems a little better today, finalised all the packing and fine tuning of equipment. My sledge was officially weighed and is only 126Kg! The earliest I may be flying is 0600 tomorrow - but I won’t hold my breath about it. Looking forward to a romantic night out in one of Punta Arenas´s fine restaurants before going our separate ways tomorrow - for 2 months... This will be a testing time for us both. Feeling emotional, but now my toenails are painted and I am ready. Completely ready."
Monday 24th November 2003
Still clearing up olive oil!
Sunday 23rd November 2003

Mike: "Today was not so good. Whilst double checking Fi's sledge I learned all her dehydrated food bags containing olive oil had leaked into the rest of the sledge.

We thought the poly bags were up to it, but clearly the seams have failed. A right mess not to mention the calories Fiona cannot afford to loose. We will sort it somehow, but time is now against us. Also Fiona has developed a cold - and after all those immune boosting tablets she’s been taking too. Tomorrow has to be better. Fi flies the day after - possibly..."

Saturday 22nd November 2003

Mike: "More food prep and packing - took all day and we only finished just now. Fiona and I sat down and just stared at the mountainous load - and then tried to move it! Suddenly it dawned on both of us - the challenge is rather more about being 'unsupported' than it is going solo!

Good news today - the Twin Otters landed in Patriot Hills this afternoon. This forebodes well for Fiona getting out on time. But as we know, Antarctic weather is very fickle. So we won't hold our breath."

Friday 21st November 2003

Fiona: "Spent all day kneeling on the floor and packing food rations. Never saw so much stuff to go in one sledge.

So this is what 130 Kgs looks like. Lots of strange looks from people tip toeing around us. In the end I changed into my Pajamas which was much more comfortable. Then I got really strange looks! Can I really tow all this?

Increasingly, my excitement is tempered by the reality of these last minute preparations. Everything has to be right.

Thursday 20th November 2003

MIKE: Last two days have been quite fraught - and not a little tiring. We really must thank Mapplin and Webb for making a last minute dash to Heathrow to supply Fiona with a locator beacon watch for her epic journey. We are sincerely grateful as now Fiona can now travel with an extra margin of safety whilst out on the ice.  Our flight to Santiago was delayed 4 hours and we missed our ongoing connection to Punta Arenas. We were lucky, because the evening flight had two seats left and we got both. Close!

Now staying in Calafete 2 - which is an inexpensive hostel in the center of town. This morning we set off to arrange collection of Fiona´s sledge from the port and parcels from the DHL office. However passing by the Antarctica Logistics office first we found to our utter amazement, everything had been delivered there without any efforts on our part. This saved us a day of hassle. A big thank you to DHL International and Antarctica for taking the initiative! Her sledge looks nicely made and Fiona loves its bright yellow cover - thank you Alex at Acapulka. All is well - and Fiona appears very excited. - Now for two days of food preparation...

Monday 17th November 2003

Fiona: "Crazy day of last minute household chores and media interviews. It's midnight and we are still packing!"

Sunday 16th November 2003

Fiona: "Today was another manic day, lots of packing and plenty of visitors. Had great plans to go for a walk and chill out - but no chance. One unfortunate moment today, a reporter accidently trod on my rather special compass and broke it. I really didn't need that... I'm feeling all kinds of emotions right now - ranging from anxiety to excitement. This dream's getting rather real..."

Mike: "Fiona chose her three travelling companions today - so it's 'Fiona and the three bears.' There's Growler, Spencer South and Tiny Bear and since she talks to them like real, maybe it's not quite a solo..."