The South Pole


31st December 2010 // New years day been and gone local time here is GMT+13. There was a mad party with the pole staff for New Zealand new year outside this morning. I am being picked up tonight just after midnight, breaking down camp now. Got to fly everything off the pole, pee and poo included! Going to moving marker ceremony at 10pm tonight. Happy New Year everyone!


30th December 2010 // The pole station was awesome. Visited the greenhouse veg in space (growth chamber) + o2 product project and gym. Staff were really friendly and cool. It was a privilege to see inside, very few have. Even had a biscuit and coffee! I am in tent at the moment; it’s cold as always but actually quite mild today around -20 degrees Celsius.

I have to keep moving my fingers and toes as often as possible in the tent. I’ve just been speaking to my PR manager who informed me that I told ITV Wales news I reached the pole on Boxing day which is completely wrong it was the 27th!! To be honest I have no idea what day it is or even any concept of time. It’s such a bizarre environment, being in 24 hours sunlight. We keep in contact with the pole station, which is on local time, GMT +13 hours and then all our reports back about flights back to the glacier are GMT -4 (Chilean time) so I haven’t got a clue what time of the day it is! I just had to ask what day it is too, apparently it is Thursday! Just did a phone interview with the Wales on Sunday newspaper. I am hoping that there will be a flight back to union glacier base camp on the 1st sometime but it might be later, all depends on weather and what crews are coming back and forth. I’ll be waking up on the Pole on New Years Day no matter what. Have a great new years eve everyone and have a beer for me!


29th December 2010 // Easy day today, have done a bit of hiking with Scott, my new tent mate and have been sorting all my gear ready for Vinson, the next leg. Have been invited in for a tour of the South Pole station tonight which is really cool as not many people get to look around, it's quite a big deal. Really excited...not sure if they will make me a cuppa, Scott seems to think they might have some good cookies for some reason! Good that me and my new tent buddy are getting on because he's kinda stuck with me for the next 5 days!


28th December 2010 // Slept for ages. My body is confused on 3 time zones! Cold but comfortable. Had wine and steak and cheese toasty last night. Told to move our toilet tent by the NSF (National Science Foundation) that’s been the job for today! All good.


27th December 2010 // RICHARD REACHES THE SOUTH POLE! Richard Parks completed the first leg of his world first 737 Challenge this morning, arriving at the South Pole and completing the first of 3 poles he will face during his 7-month race to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents and venture to The South and Geographical North Poles.

Richard arrived at the pole at 6.10am UK time, 3.10am Chile time and 7.10pm local time.

Visit the 737 Challenge news section to listen to an exclusive interview with Richard, recorded just moments after reaching The South Pole on day 16 of his 737 Challenge and after skiing with his team for 60 nautical miles.


26th December 2010 // We are camping 9km (5.59 nautical miles) from the pole, an amazing feeling. Another tough day, saw the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station around 17km (10.56 miles), it was amazing and emotional. The Amundsen-Scott pole station is on NZ time (+13). I wanted to push today but one of the team is struggling. It’s tough camping so close to the pole, we have to approach from a specific point as not to disturb scientific zones. There are loads of rules governing the pole. A top day.


25th December 2010 // 14 nautical miles (22.6km) from the Pole. An easier 7 hour day today. I am running out of toilet roll as I spilt hot chocolate in the tent! Ralf, one of our team has frostnip on his nose. It’s a tropical -20 today after a white out this morning! ipod movie tonight, looking forward to it! Happy Christmas everyone and thank you for all your messages of support on Facebook and Twitter.


24th December 2010 // Christmas Eve, I am 22.6 nautical miles (36.4km) from the pole. Feeling tired, tough sastrugi but I am excited to be close!

One of my team broke his pole falling over the sastrugi. Run out of ipod but loving my solar charger which is topping it up! Tomorrow I am having an hour lie in and my favourite breakfast; oats and blueberries. My luxury item for this trip was xmas cards and a present. I hope Ben, my dog likes his bone that I left him too!

Other than that I have 8 hours of nothing other than skiing to look forward to. Tomorrow I am skiing with Chris Nance, from the USA and a fellow RAB sponsored climber, he’s a legend.

Have a great Christmas everyone and will report back tomorrow!

Rich x


23rd December 2010 // A tough 8-hour slog, I led today, tough being out in front without any stimuli, navigating using sastrugi and my shadow. It’s tougher than anything before as it is so mentally demanding. 19.9km today, 31 nautical miles from the pole – about half way. It’s getting colder the closer we get.


22nd December 2010 // 7 hours skiing, 9.6 nautical miles (15.4km) travelled today. Now 41.3 miles (66.47km) to The Pole. Mentally it’s tough as no stimuli or progress markers, and it’s cold of course, a warm -29 today.


21st December 2010 // Skied for 5 hours today, acclimatisation day. Conditions are poor, white out and -35. Sastrugi hard going. Skied 6.23 nautical miles today, just over 10k. Including yesterday we have 51.3 nautical miles to go! in bag toasty!

INFO: Sastrugi are sharp irregular grooves or ridges formed on a snow surface by wind erosion and deposition, and found in polar and temperate snow regions. They differ from sand dunes in that the ridges are parallel to the prevailing winds.


20th December 2010 // Change of plans, weather window appeared and we got dropped of at 89 degrees South. It was awesome and surreal on the twin otter leaving. It’s -24, the wind is blowing, tent is shaking but I’m toasty in my bag!


19th December 2010 // Weather bad, low visibility, we can't fly for another 2 days to 89 degrees to start. On a trial expedition for 2 nights around Union Glacier base camp. All good.


17th December 2010 // In Union Glacier base camp. One guy has dropped out already with frostbite, now only 4 of us. Here at Union Glacier base camp its -12 but at 89 degrees south its -30 with a 30 knot plus headwind.


16th December 2010 // We're on standby to fly today, waiting for the weather window. We have to be ready to leave in half an hour. More patience and waiting!!

I'm in a team of 4 to ski to the pole. Facts - the pole is on NZ time, GMT +13 and Union Glacier is Chile time gmt-4! The average temp in the last degree over the last week ahs been -26 degrees C and at Union Glacier it's been between -15 and -5c air temp. The pole is at around 3000m so we have to battle altitude acclimatisation when we get dropped at 89 degrees. Frostbite of the face is the highest risk as we're skiing into a head wind, which can reduce the wind chill considerably, down to the -40 region! That combined with the sticky dry snow and heavy loads is why physically it's so tough - a marathon a day!


15th December 2010 // I've negotiated all the airports, transfers, customs, time differences, de-briefing meetings, bag weighing, breakfasts and an almost complete lack of Spanish to be here in Punta ready to fly on to Antarctica tomorrow, weather window permitting!

I've met 2 of my 3 other team mates for the last degree, the fourth is still stuck in Santiago waiting for his lost gear! They're cool.

I had my de-brief today which was awesome and has sharpened my mind somewhat. To be sat in a room with so many great explorers, mountaineers and scientists was really cool. I've met some old and new faces already.

All my gear is sweet, in fact I'm 6kgs UNDER my allowed limit on to Antarctica which is refreshing in light of my lucky escape at Heathrow!

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