South Pole Together 2004 - Team Log

Now that the team have joined up with Fiona, please see Fiona's expedition log for new updates

Tuesday 27th January 2004 - Day 16

Mary: Mike phoned to say they would be at the Pole about 22.00GMT. He phoned again at 16.30, to say progress was good, and they were on schedule.  He sounded quite excited.  Now we are's snowing outside here too! (UK)

22.50.  Mike's on the phone - RENDEZVOUS TEAM ARE AT THE SOUTH POLE at 19.30 Punta time (22.30GMT).  Sounds of hilarity - Fiona sounds excited already - everyone very happy - will be flown out tomorrow about 17.00 GMT weather permitting.  Strong breeze at present - minus 50C with windchill.


Monday 26th January 2004 - Day 15

Mike: Position 89.50South, just 10 miles remain. We saw the aerials of the Amundsen-ScottDome earlier, but are camped in a dip so not visible at present. It has been a perfect day - not a cloud in the sky, we've even had to remove a layer of clothing to stop us sweating.  We have encountered sastrugi, but managed to find a path avoiding most of them."
Mary & Roger: Steve Bull arrived home today, and phoned to say that he was feeling better. The doctors at Punta said that his viral condition was badly affected by the altitude - if he had stayed with the Team it could have taken him 5 days to recover - so, he said, there was no other alternative other than to be airlifted out. Steve wished the Team a great last 2 days to the Pole, and is looking forward to seeing them all at Heathrow on their return to UK. 

Sunday 25th January 2004 - Day 14

Mary and Roger: Mike phoned: Position 89.40South  87.07West . A lovely sunny day today. Seven hours of walking, and 10.9 miles, mostly uphill this afternoon. 

Had to have one fairly long break to attend to Mark's heels, his achilles are still very painful, otherwise all are well. On a lighter note, it is BURNS NIGHT, so Linnea has brought out treasured Whisky and Shortbread to share with everyone. 

Just 20 miles remain - if there is good visibility tomorrow, they will see the aerials on the Amundsen-Scott 'dome' before they camp for the night.

Friday 23rd January 2004 - Day 12

Mary: With no call from Mike tonight, we can only report the Argos position which is 89.19South, just 41 miles remaining.  We have heard from Kathryn Bull that Steve arrived in Punta on Weds night. Yesterday he had a medical check, which revealed a viral infection,and dehydration - which the altitude exacerbated. Wonderful to see Linnea's tumble captured on video.  My spell checker always wants me to change her name to 'linear' - so it was correct today, for once!

Thursday 22nd January 2004 - Day 11

Mary: Mike reported an exceptional 2 days - position 89.08South, 86.20West. Sunny -27 but -40 with wind-chill.  Tonight they are camped in a subtle valley, with perfectly flat snow - no sastrugi in sight!  He comments that the snow surface is like sandpaper, which makes sledge hauling difficult. Just 52 miles to go!

He described a typical day:

07.00: Roll up sleeping bags, and sit on them for breakfast of Harvest Crunch and hot drinks.

08.30: Strike camp and pack sledges and leave by 09.15

09.25: Short break to make minor adjustments.

2 hours ski - 15 mins break

2 hours ski - 15 mins break

1.5 hours ski - 15 mins break

1.5 hours ski - stop, then 30 mins to set up camp.

First task is to melt snow for water. Evenings are spent maintaining equipment, tending injuries, and listening to music. Bed by 10pm.  We really are a great team. Linnea seems to cope with the cold better than all of us. She is getting stronger every day.

Wednesday 21st January 2004 - Day 10

Mary: No call from Mike, so we anticipate low sun levels, which means no sat phone. Argos today shows 88.57 South - another 10 mile day. Just 63 n.miles to the Pole.
Weather at Patriot Hills had improved this morning, so the Ilyushin was expected to fly in. A chance  for all the successful teams to get out of Antarctica after a very long wait.
Interesting fact: there is only 1 n.mile between each degree of Longitude at 89 deg South!

Tuesday 20th January 2004 - Day 9

Mary: The team started today in sunshine, and ended in a real white-out.  The girls had a go at navigating, but it proved too difficult in the conditions they were experiencing.  They managed 10 miles, which was the target.  Position 88.47South 84.09 West. 9050 ft asl. 73 n. miles to go.
Should be half way to the Pole tomorrow.

Monday 19th January 2004 - Day 8

Mary: Mike just phoned "Position 88.37South 84.50West. 11 miles today - best day we've had.  Force 1 wind from the East, and a perfect skiing surface. Minus 30 all day as the winter season approaches.  The girls are strong and cheerful, and I could not wish for a better team. Everyone has some niggling injury, but nothing to cause any worry.  We just need to keep the mileage up.  Just 83 n.miles to the Pole!"

Sunday 18th January 2004 - Day 7

Mary: Mike phoned at 08.15 to say the team were about to move, hoping to complete 10 nautical miles each day to the pole.
They had heard from PH that Steve had arrived, and was cuttently being assessed by the doctor. No call tonight yet, but the Argos shows they have done 8.5 miles by 16.30 Chile time.(GMT -3 hrs.)

Saturday 17th January 2004 - Day 6

Mary: We have had various emails form ALE today keeping us informed of the progress of the airlift. Yesterday's flight had to be called off as the weather closed in at PH, but today the Twin Otter with the PH doctor on board set off, and landed near the campsite at approx.16.30 GMT
Back to our Argos crystal ball, we see the team have moved off en route again for the South Pole.  We wish them well.
Talking of crystal balls, see round up for Fi. gazing at the Ceremonial South Pole globe. Took it herself - see the camera if you look closely!

Friday 16th January 2004 - Day 5

Mike: You may have gathered from last night's note on Mark's site that someone was ill. It is Steve Bull. His reaction to the altitude has become so severe, that it is necessary to evacuate him back to Patriot Hills. Steve has spoken to his wife but there is no alternative. Safety is always paramount. I understand that the Twin Otter is on the way to us now. All the team are safe and warm in the tents.

Mary: Please say your prayers for Steve, his family and the team.  

Thursday 15th January 2004 - Day 4

Mary & Roger: An even briefer call from Mike, as the cloud cover had not allowed the phone battery to charge much. However, at 19.00 GMT the sun came out and Mike decided it was time to rest and recharge both human and Sat- phone 'batteries'. At 8800 ft, rest is essential to aid acclimatisation. Position 88.15S 84.50W. Hopefully a longer call tomorrow with more news.

Wednesday 14th January 2004 - Day 3

Mary: I found a new way to find out about Mike and Fiona on the web today - go to Yahoo, and type in: fiona thornewill south pole - and 'bingo', everything you ever wanted!

Mike just phoned from position 88.10 S and 84.54 W Been overcast most of the day until the last hour, so pretty cold at -40 with wind chill. Morale is good, and when asked, murmurs in the background said they were enjoying themselves. The day was generally better organised with everyone getting into the routine more quickly. The learning curve is still steep! Mike says progress will improve as skills develop. Three degrees further West than Fiona's track at present (that's only 7 miles at this latitude) so they will not be seeing her tracks yet!                                                                         

Tuesday 13th January 2004 - Day 2

Mike: Very brief call just now - low battery power as usual!  Today it has been a total whiteout, with heavy sastrugi and team members falling all over the place. We managed to walk for six hours - cannot do more yet until we have become more adjusted to the altitude.  Position 88.02S 84.43 W. This amounts to 15 n.miles in the two days - not bad for novices at this altitude, and in such difficult conditions. A real 'baptism of fire'.                                                                               

Monday 12th January 2004 - Day 1

Mike: " We walked for 6 hours and reached 87.54S 84.32 W.  Going was fair with heavy sastrugi up to a metre high, and the temp. minus 30C with wind-chill.  It has been sunny, with a light breeze.
There are no problems, and morale is good on this first day."
Roger: Mike and the Team have left PH at last. (We saw them first at 82.40S and stationary according to Argos. We were unsure why.) Mike just phoned, complaining of poor satphone battery life - (Oh no!), and in haste said they landed to refuel. A bit dodgy due to a 10 metre fog layer on the ground at Thiels.

They flew up to 87.46S, 84 31 W, and had difficulty finding a landing site, due to sastrugi and rough snow conditions. They landed eventually, with many bumps and jumps from the undercarriage. A wonderful flight though.

Due to the delays in PA and PH before flying out, they are further South than originally intended. Tents are up now, and they are on Chile Time. (GMT minus 3 hours) Everyone is fine - temp is minus 28C, and they are are 8300 ft asl. Just 154 miles to the Pole! Ends.                                                                     

Saturday 10th January 2004

Mary: Mike phoned at 23.45 to say they have been on standby most of the day, and there is a 60/40 chance of the flight tomorrow. The weather at PH is remarkably good, with clear hoizons with not a breath of wind. Absolutely beautiful. In fact the team are about to join in a barbeque. Today they skied a 10 mile round trip to a crashed DC 6 airliner, which has virtually sunk into the ice after many years. A chance to move together for the first time. Spirits are high, and the team are eager to get on with the expedition. End.                                                                           

Friday 9th January 2004

Mary:  Mike reported in twice today to give the Team report and check on Fi.'s progress. All are well and in good spirits, but still grounded waiting for the cloud to clear on the higher ground. There have been flights today to lower levels - fingers crossed for better weather soon. See also Team member Mark Turner's website for an 'insiders view' of the day.(
Colin MacDonald sends good wishes to the team today, and this quote for 'Sergeant Frosty:
"There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory."
Sir Francis Drake 1587.

Thursday 8th January 2004

Roger:  The Team are now basking in the 24hr sunshine of Patriot Hills Base. This was he news from Mike at 4pmGMT today.  However there is a lot of cloud about, and as the ground rises to 7500ft asl at 87.00 S, their dropping off point, they do not go.
The same trouble at Patriot Hills nearly sent them back to Punta this morning - the visibility having deteriorated during the flight over. Mike said the pilot promised them one attempt to land - and he managed it. Mike described the landing: "Suddenly we were through the cloud - the Ilyushin banked steeply left and right and we were down - as light as a feather."
The team can now get the feel of the Antarctic - living in tents, on snow, and the sun dipping, but not setting.                                                                      

Wednesday 7th January 2004

Mike: 1000GMT 7.12.04: 'Team still in Punta Arenas. Weather in PH is improving slowly. Next weather sched. is 1200 hrs. So we wait in hope. Team in good spirits and we eat steak every night - cost of living here is much in our favour... Mark seems much better today which is good to see. Richard demonstrates continued self-discipline with his morning exercise routine. Today he received a friendly mauling from the hostel dog whilst doing so - which was hilarious to watch!'

Tuesday 6th January 2004

Mike: 'No flight last night, weather deteriorated at PH. We are on standby until 1400hrs. - Though personally I do not expect to fly today. Mark’s cold appears perhaps past it’s worst. In many ways, a good job he did not fly yesterday. Team are finally unwinding from the many tasks of the last few days. Also, we’ve moved to new accommodation - more like a private B & B. So we wait patiently for now.'

Monday 5th January 2004

Mike: 'We are on two hour standby. Weather is stable in Patriot Hills but cloud is just a little beyond the tolerance right now. Next scheduled flight is in 30mins. Mark has a cold, mine is much better. The girls are well excited about flying out. Fingers crossed.'                                            

Sunday 4th January 2004

Mike: 'Finally our sledges are packed and loaded on the Ilusion - and here are the scores on the doors:

Mark (Superman) 79Kg
Steve 56Kg
Richard (Bob the builder) 53Kg
Vickie 50Kg
Mike 49Kg
Linnea 43Kg

A little personal hand luggage remains to be checked in - but the good news is we made the overall target weight of 60-65Kg per person. This afternoon we're going to get on with a little more training and wait for the first scheduled call at 4pm. Weather does not look good at this time.                                                                                               

Saturday 3rd January 2004

Mike: A day of packing sledges and practising camp routine. Simply not enough hours in the day. Must say, the team are getting on brilliantly. I feel we have a strong team - and it's great to see the building excitement. Tomorrow we have the safety briefing from ALE followed by sledge weighing and pick up. There is a small chance of flying tomorrow night (4/1) Let's pray so - because we so much want to overfly Fiona before she goes out of Range.

Friday 2nd January 2004

Mike: Today we spent all day packing food. (No olive oil episodes this time) Great team effort ensured we are half a day ahead of schedule. Mark gave me a homeopathic cold remedy - which seems to have saved me from the worst of it. We’ve now chosen team members: Linnea, Richard and Me - and Mark, Vickie with Steve. Tomorrow will be packing sledges and practising our camp routine. Everyone is getting on really well and I think we have a super team. Looking forward to getting out there! Brief entry right now - loads to do and time is short!  

Thursday 1st January 2004

Mike: "Just to let everyone know - Mark, Richard, Linnea, Vickie Steve and I all arrived safely in Punta Arenas this afternoon. With relief we counted our bags and sledges off the final conveyer... All correct. Tonight off out for a chilled one and to discuss final prep for the next three days. I had time to pop into the ALE office and check on Fi - learned she´s storming southwards again. I also noticed on their large scale map, there is still the odd crevasse area left to negotiate. So, tread softly Fi. Oh, and I have a cold... Terrific timing."

Wednesday 31st December 2003
Mike and the Team are presently in the air on their way to Punta Arenas, Chile, via Madrid and Santiago with Land Chile.  They all met as agreed at 13.00hrs at Heathrow today, ready for the 17.05 takeoff.
Mike hopes to communicate from Punta Arenas during the Team preparation time before they board the Ilyushin Jet Transport to fly on to Patriot Hills on Antarctica.
They are due to arrive at Punta Arenas 5pm local time (20:00 GMT Jan 1st.).