So many ways to start this blog
And so it begins…
The longest journey begins with the first step…
Once upon a time in a land far far away…
I am on my way. I am heading south and will not stop until I start going north again. The departure day has finally arrived. I committed to this expedition in June and it seemed a long time off. Enough time to train and to gather gear, but it has snuck up on me like always.
I left Toronto Friday night on an Air Canada flight to Santiago. Saying goodbye to family is always tough and since I will miss Christmas and New Year on this trip it makes it even more difficult. My wife and kids are very supportive and without this support I could not do what I do.
The flight to Santiago is long at just over 10 hours, but the time flew by :). On my first trip to Antarctica in 2011 the Santiago airport was a hub of chaos. I had very little time to clear immigration and customs, pick up my bags, check into my domestic flight to Punta Arenas and pay the oversize bag fees. In 2011 Canadians were also required to pay a reciprocity fee for entry into Chile. Needless to say, it was stressful and I barely made my next flight.
In January of 2016 I repeated this, but this time we had a special escort at the airport and this made things go very smoothly. I was travelling with the True Patriot Love group and Air Canada had arranged for us to have an escort in the airport that shortcut most lines and got us to our connection very efficiently.
This time I was in no rush as my connecting flight was not until the next day. The lines at customs and immigration were short and efficient and before I knew it I had my bags and I was officially in Chile. I walked across the road (100-feet) to the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel and check in for the night. This hotel is convenient, well priced, and modern and clean.
The next day I continued my way south with a 3 hour flight to Punta Arenas. I grabbed a taxi at the airport and made my way to the Condor De Plata Hotel in town where I met up with the rest of the team. Then the work began…
Ryan, Paul and Katrina had been working hard the day before and packed our breakfast and dinner food. We will be taking approximately 1kg of food per person per day for 50 days. Ryan and I went to the supermarket and purchased 80 250g chocolate bars plus 18kg of cheese and salami. Back at the hotel we cut up the cheese and salami into 100g bundles which will be part of our lunch each day. We also have a bag of high calorie GORP and power bars to add to this. In all we are shooting to eat about 5000 calories per day.
We finished up around 10pm skipping dinner. After which I slept very well.
Today (November 14) we finished our packing and set up our tents to check over everything. In total we have about 75kg per person plus an additional 70kg of fuel that we will pick up in Antarctica. When loaded our sleds will weigh close to 100 kg per person. I hope we have Teflon spray for the bottom of our sleds to make them slide easier. They are going to be brutal to pull!
Our bags have just been weighed and loaded onto the truck to be taken to the airport. We have a flight meeting later tonight and then our scheduled departure is Nov 15 provided the weather is good for flying. We will find out tonight at our meeting. The flight before us was held up for 7 days due to poor flying conditions.
Wish us luck for an on-time departure. Let’s get this party started!
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