Thursday 9 December, 10pm
From Andrew Regan:
We finally crossed the edge of Antarctica and onto The Ross Ice Shelf at 7am Chilean time today, which marked the success of our transantarctic crossing, of a continent bigger than North America, with no predators other than its vicious and extreme weather, something the whole team had been abruptly reminded of over the last 36 hours.
After we had passed the American fuel train yesterday, I thought we would make easy going to the Leverett Glacier and down the 2800 metres to the coast, as the tracks they had made would assist us by compacting the snow and helping us see where there route was safe. However, by the time we started the descent down the Leverett we were soon in a complete white-out as the wind roared straight down the glacier with gusts of 98km/hour and we dropped down the 10% gradient. The windows on the vehicles started to freeze and the wipers scratched pathetically at the ice that formed. We were in an area where crevasses were a certain feature, and Valdi’s eyes raced from the GPS to the windscreen and a tense car peered out, everyone focussed on spotting the next bamboo pole the Americans had left marking the safe route. As we dropped at a rate of 1m every 4 seconds, the visibility cleared and one of the most beautiful views I think I will ever have the privilege of experiencing appeared; all the comments we had been given that this place was special were so true. After another jaw dropping 80km we reached the Loo JW waypoint, a kilometre onto the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica crossed and a dream come true.
Forgive my indulgence but the Team in no particular order:
Valdi – strong, gentle and decent and has been invaluable as a team member throughout, even leading the Expedition down the Leverett Glacier. We proudly have his lucky bear hanging in SSV2 for good luck.
Gunni – a lion of a man and the creator of the 6 wheel drive SSV’s. He must have anti-freeze in his blood as can strip a radiator in -47 degrees in 20 minutes without gloves. A proud man who built the best vehicles on the planet, he barks at us all but means it with a monster heart.
Vern – a true professional and our crevasse field hero. Apart from having summited Everest 9 times and holding the world record for fastest seven summits he adds huge value to the depth of our team and never tires of teaching us…. a true legend and, wow, what patience.
Ray – thrust into this with only a few weeks’ notice. A brilliant engineer and scientist, who is loved by all the team. Immediately takes charge of anything electrical, can fix anything and always full of positive attitude, a real top man.
Pete – looks like Keith Richard’s son and has more energy than a Duracell Bunny. Nothing is ever too much trouble, he attracts dirt quicker than a Dyson hoover. Pete and Gunni bicker constantly, much to the amusement of the rest of the team. Mega respect for him as an engineer and so, so, glad he came along.
George – he gets huge stick when the whole team have to stop for him to film but his wonderful stubborn way will produce an epic film we all will be so proud of. He never tires of getting cold and is a complete credit to himself.
Jamie – aged 23, the youngest person to achieve a transantarctic crossing. Brilliant guy all the way through, has stepped up beyond anything asked of him. You have made us all proud.
Paul – an engine and tireless workhorse. He can eat an entire can of Roses on his own but always loses at backgammon. Seems to love the roof of the SSV at -46 degrees when there is a 65km/h wind, amazing. Super strong in body and mind.
Mooney – co leader/principal. Wouldn’t have been possible without you and wouldn’t have wanted to do it without you. Amazing friend and team player.
You guys made the dream happen – Thank you.