Author Archives: polar blogger

Laugavegur Trek

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Getting On in Life

I read in New Scientist last year that our life span has been increasing by 2.2 years per decade, or about 5 hours per day for the last 100 years. But most of this longer life is spent with disability, … Continue reading

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89th Degree

Two days ago, New Years Day, my heels were in agony and I could no longer ski. I took my skis off to try walking. My feet were numb, like blocks of concrete. I stumbled and fell, got up, staggered, … Continue reading

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Rest Day

I'm shattered, absolutely shattered. The last eight days have been without doubt the toughest so far. For the first five days after Pat hurt his back Jon, Clare and I distributed most of his load between us, taking turns to … Continue reading

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Merry Christmas Jack

A big Happy Christmas to my beautiful little boy, Jack. I had a wee chat to Santa and he was very pleased to hear you've been such a good boy this year. And he gave a big smile when I … Continue reading

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Whiteout

Damn this bloody weather! For six days we hauled amongst the vague silhouettes of mountains. Even when we couldn't see them, we could feel them, their powerful presence just beyond the veil. Ever watchful and curious, but largely indifferent to … Continue reading

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Antarctic Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my family, friends and everyone following our progress. It's pretty tough going at the moment so knowing you're all out there supporting us really helps to keep our spirits up. We'll … Continue reading

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Thiels

Ahead in the distance lies the Thiels mountain range, veiled in mist. Dark jagged peaks tear through fine drapes of snow and puncture the sky. In front of me, bouncing earnestly over sastrugi, is Clare's sledge, the 'Dudley Docker'. I … Continue reading

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Pilgrimage

He's bent over double, leaning forward, trying to shift the weight of his burden between his left shoulder and his hips. His right shoulder is bust. The freshly fallen snow drags relentlessly at the runners of his sledge, turning each … Continue reading

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Dead Men Walking

My head heavy against the root of an ancient oak. Bathing on warm earth beneath a sun that blinds me. A chromium blue sky, tie dyed with thin slivers of cloud wisp, air brushed in by a perfect hand. Corn … Continue reading

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Hauling Man

Every part of my body is covered. I see the world through the limited field of vision of these goggles. To exist you must stand in this field or scream louder than the incessant wind that torments my ears with … Continue reading

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Waking

I wake and feel my wrist, my watch has gone. With one hand I blindly search around my bag. I give up and slip back into sleep.I wake again, raise myself up onto one elbow and lift the patch from … Continue reading

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Rucking

I once spent a night in a tent on South Georgia, a small island in the South Atlantic. It was my first Beyond Endurance expedition, the second took me across Greenland and the third brought me here to Antarctica. During … Continue reading

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Coffee, and a beer.

A man with one leg, the other lost just below the hip, crosses the street, on crutches. A moments thought: A war veteran? An accident at work ? Cancer ? He looks about 45, maybe younger. A pack of stray … Continue reading

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Metamorphis

Between university and the birth of my son I lived in five countries and bounced around a few others. Life was wild, as it should be in youth, always running to catch the next train of experiences. Having a child … Continue reading

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Arctic Willy

We finally got all our gear from customs on Monday and have spent the last three days packing. The bulk of the effort was dividing all the food rations into day bags, sixty in all. We went out for dinner … Continue reading

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Waldo

We’re quite fortunate to be able to exercise some control over the day to day running of our lives, yet eventually there comes a time when we have to let go and cede the reins into the hands of others. … Continue reading

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We’re Off!

Just finished packing my casual gear and am about to leave the house and head to the airport. There I will meet up with two other members of the team, Pat and Jonathon, before boarding the plane to take us … Continue reading

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Two days to go…and counting!

My stomach is in bits, I’m not sure if its due to the over indulgent send off I had on Sunday eve or apprehension that I will be leaving in two days to finally embark on a journey of a … Continue reading

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The Weather

The weather rarely achieves fame, yet occasionally it sways the course of History, perhaps no more so than the Russian winter of 1942-43. At this time, during the siege of Stalingrad, daily temperatures reached -35C. Hitler had anticipated a quicker … Continue reading

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Introduction.

As a child I read about the great explorers of the Heroic Age and dreamt of their endeavours. In 2006 I put my name forward to train for an expedition to traverse South Georgia in the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean … Continue reading

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We did it!

“Following a phone call at 16:45pm irish time, 13:45pm Greenland time, Pat Falvey, Clare O’Leary and Shaun Menzies have just come off the edge of the Greenland ice cap on to their first solid ground in 31 days. Pat was … Continue reading

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Tough Decisions.

“The trio called me on Friday evening to discuss their options, they had made some progress through the endless melt waters and were at approx 50-60 km from the finish. They are to battle on and aim for the first … Continue reading

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Everything Wet

“Approx. 80km from the western edge of Greenland, the 3 adventurers are battling with an endless maze of melt water rivers on and under the surface. Massive Lakes with a layer of ice on top about 3 inches thick break … Continue reading

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Meandering melt water

What a day! Due to global warming we’re encountering a large number of melt water rivers, far more than normal for this time of year. We had to divert 9km from our route today as these fast flowing rivers are … Continue reading

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DYE 2

After a blizzard and 6 days of non-stop white outs we finaly reached Dye 2 on Sunday. It appeared out of the mist like some long forgotten alien artifact, a great white dome on top dominates the building which, untill … Continue reading

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Runing out of Food and Time

“The conditions are the same with snow on the ground its quite soft and sticky as the day progresses, We are approx 80km from DYE 2, Our solar power has been zero over the last few days as there is … Continue reading

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Signs of the sun.

As the day progressed the blizzard relented and we could just see the sun briefly filtering through the overcast sky. Tomorrow, if we’re lucky, we’ll finally be able to use the solar panels to charge the battery packs and hence … Continue reading

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20km in blizzard.

Due to our slow progress in the afternoons over the soft snow we decided to get up at 3:30am and start hauling at 5:00am. We woke to a freezing blizzard and total whiteout. The wind was very strong and didn’t … Continue reading

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Soft snow slows progress.

Our progress these last couple of days has been somewhat hindered by continuous snowfall which sticks to the skis and sledges, increasing their drag. In the afternoon it really makes the going tough, especially today when we were reduced to … Continue reading

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Going hell for leather.

We’re now hauling well, making over 25km per day. We’ve 224km to go till Dye 2, a deserted US base in the middle of the plateau, and 444km till the west coast – our finishing point. We just found out … Continue reading

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480 Km to go.

“Its 0607 in the morning, feet are sore, otherwise in good form, after a good meal and building up some strength to get them back on target for the rest of the traverse after a very hard start.” – Phone … Continue reading

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Hauled 28 Km today.

We have just covered 28 kms today in whiteout conditions, we also confirmed that one of Charlie Paten’s team, who we were with coming through crevasses, a belgium snowboarder was helicoptered off the ice cap yesterday, he had ligament problems. … Continue reading

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N 65 58 989 / W 39 42 517

All is well overall, sadly we departed the other group as we are now going our separate ways. We are all suffering form the ordeal of the creavasse zone, Sean is trying to prevent crutch rot with Vaseline, Clare is … Continue reading

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Grid Ref: N 65 52 262 W 38 54 816

Well, we’re finally out of the bumpy stuff and onto the snow. Unfortunately, the other team have two broken skis and bindings as a result of the previous rough terrain. We’re still encountering deep crevasses but not so many. However, … Continue reading

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Crevasse Damage

There were two teams that left Kulusuk at the same time. Ours and an international team led by Charlie Paten, an ex Royal Marine. Both teams are traveling on the same permit so we’ve been climbing the glacier together these … Continue reading

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Terrible Terrain.

Its been a tiring day! We spent the morning ferrying our sledges across crevasses, some quit intimidatingly deep. It was slow progress but by lunchtime we were out of the worst. Pat and Clare brought a second plastic sledge for … Continue reading

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We took the wrong route.

Today was hell. As we made our way up the glacier the bumps I described yesterday became larger, often 3 to 4 feet high. Hauling our sledges over these has been very energy zapping. Furthermore, the crevasses are now much … Continue reading

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Nagtivit

We’re finally on the ice! After precariosly lowering the sledges into some old fishing boats we set off on a two hour journey to our start point, the Apuserserpia glacier snout at Nagtivit. The boats crashed through the waves throwing … Continue reading

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Pulks

Well, we’ve finally packed our sledges! We estimate that each team member will be hauling about 80KG. We’ll be taking two light plastic sledges as well as our fibre glass sledges specially designed for the Greenland crossing. The plastic sledges … Continue reading

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Local Traditions

The weather today has been bright and sunny, about 20 degrees centigrade, with a 3 knot arctic breeze. So, we took a small break from orgqanising our gear to witness a demonstration of traditional Inuit fishing from a hand made … Continue reading

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Kullusuk, Greenland.

Welcome to our first dispatch from Greenland! We flew into the west coast yesterday and caught a small propeller plane to Kullusuk on the east coast – much to Sean’s amusement (he hates flying!). The flight took us over the … Continue reading

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Day 2

The day started comically enough, one of our tent party woke up and, on seeing daylight, got up, dressed and started boiling water to make hot drinks. The winds seemed to have died down a little so we all started … Continue reading

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Day 1

We made anchor in Prince Hakkon bay early on Monday morning, a treacherous bay by South Georgia standards…one ship ran aground here a few years back. The captain negotiated her in excellently, whilst the bridge filled with the sound of … Continue reading

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I’m packed!

Sunday 8:30 pm…..and I’m all packed up! Wahooo! It was no easy affair I can tell you, an experience in the modern day madness that is air travel. It would have been a very noble gesture if the Irish airline, … Continue reading

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Last Day

Well here it is, last day at work before a weekend of packing and re-packing. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve checked the gear list. I’m not a particularly fastidious person but diving taught me to pay good … Continue reading

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High Seas

One of my pet interests is the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII, more specifically the U-Boat war on Allied Merchant Shipping from 1939 to 1943 – the battle was pretty much won by the end of 1943, some might … Continue reading

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The Fear

In less than two weeks I’ll be forced up the stairs of a plane, the first step in our journey to Chile. I say forced because I hate flying, or rather I have an irrational fear of it. I’ve tried … Continue reading

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Freddy, what do Yaks eat ?

I was showing my son Jack this site the other day, he’s just turned five and I wanted him to understand why daddy will be away for nearly a month. I tried to show him South Georgia and Antarctica on … Continue reading

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The UV Ushuaia

Well if we hit a “freak wave” in the South Atlantic then i’d like to know a little bit more about the ship i’ll be going down with. The UV USHUAIA was commisioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration … Continue reading

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South Georgia Traverse Route

I’ve plotted the Lat/Long GPS route data in Google Earth and produced an image of the route below. You should be able to click on this image to see a larger and clearer version.

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Shackleton’s Grave, Grytviken.

Ernest Shackleton final resting place is in the small “whalers” graveyard at Grytviken. (courtersy of Google Maps)

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Stromness Whaling Station.

(courtesy of Google Maps)

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The Start

It’s ironic to be sitting here in Lansdowne road on a cold October evening, cheering Munster and freezing, whilst all my cold weather gear is on its way to Chile. Likewise to have a membership card in my wallet for … Continue reading

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