Thursday, December 31, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 31 2009 11:27:12 GMT

Happy new year 2010 from da bottom of da world.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Chúc mừng năm mới 2010 từ dưới da của da thế giới.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 31 2009:

happy new year 2010 fr da bottom of da world

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 31 2009 04:22:37 GMT

South Pole station uses new zealand time. In a few hour there will be ceremony to move da mark of geographic South Pole to its new correct location.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Nam Cực trạm sử dụng thời gian New Zealand. Trong một vài giờ sẽ có buổi lễ để di chuyển dấu da của địa lý Nam cực đến vị trí đúng của nó mới.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 31 2009:

sp station uses new zealand time.in a few hr there wll b ceremony 2 move da mark of geographic sp 2 its new corrct loc.

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 30 2009 19:15:39 GMT

Update from Antarctica @ 90°00'.0"S 87°44'15.0"W

Greetings from da South Pole :).

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Chúc mừng từ da Nam Cực:).

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 30 2009:

grtng fr da sp :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 30 2009 02:25:38 GMT

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 30 2009 02:25:36 GMT

Update from Antarctica @ 89°54'42.0"S 130°04'45.0"W

Day 5. We can see South Pole station from here. Only a few nm to go. Going to have David & Nubo do voice update.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Ngày 5. Chúng ta có thể thấy Nam Cực trạm từ đây. Chỉ có một vài nm để đi. Sẽ có David & Nubo để cập nhật giọng nói.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 30 2009:

day 5.we can c sp station fr here.only a few nm 2 go.go_i 2 hav dv & nb do voice update

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Update from Antarctica @ 89°24'56.0"S 94°10'22.0"W

Was quite cold this morning , -30 but now = -25. Will ski long er hour tomorrow & da rest to try reaching da pole by New Year.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Khá lạnh, sáng nay, nhưng bây giờ -30 = -25. Sẽ trượt dài er giờ ngày mai & da phần còn lại để cố gắng đạt đến cực da của năm mới.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 26 2009:

was quite cld this mrng,-30 but now = -25.wll ski lng er hr tmr & da rest 2 try reach_i da pole by nwyr

Friday, December 25, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 25 2009 23:11:54 GMT

We cannot ask 4 a better day in Antarctica. Sunny calm brilliant day. Skied 4 5 hour. My cooking day today so our Christmas dinner is alfredo with chicken.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Chúng tôi không thể yêu cầu 4 một ngày tốt hơn ở Nam Cực. Sunny bình tĩnh rực rỡ ngày. Skied 4 5 giờ. Hôm nay tôi nấu ăn để ăn tối ngày Giáng sinh của chúng tôi là Alfredo với thịt gà.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 25 2009:

we !cn ask 4 a betr day in antarc.sny calm brlnt day.ski_e 4 5 hr.my cook_i day 2day so our xms dinner is alfredo wth chicken

Update from Antarctica @ 89°19'22.0"S 91°39'28.0"W

Ho Ho Ho :) merry Christmas. Hope everyone have a good holiday.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Hồ Hồ Hồ:) merry Christmas. Hy vọng mọi người đều có một kỳ nghỉ tốt.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 25 2009:

hhh :) mrry xms.hope ev1 hav a gud hday

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 24 2009 22:52:09 GMT

Had a small Christmas get together @ our tent. Was nice & cozy. Even had Christmas tree on paper from my niece jocelyna. A tru white Christmas @ Antarctica.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Đã có một Giáng sinh nhỏ được với nhau @ lều của chúng tôi. Đã được tốt đẹp và ấm cúng. Thậm chí có cây Giáng sinh trên giấy từ jocelyna cháu gái của tôi. Một Giáng sinh tru trắng @ châu Nam Cực.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 24 2009:

had a sml xms get together @ our tnt.was nice & czy.even had xms tree on paper fr my niece jocelyna.a tru white xms @ antarc

Update from Antarctica - Dec 24 2009 13:05:41 GMT

Today is rest day. Going to have Christmas eve lunch & my fruit cake in our tent.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Hôm nay là phần còn lại trong ngày. Đi ăn trưa eve Christmas & bánh trái cây của tôi trong lều của chúng tôi.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 24 2009:

today is rest day.go_i 2 hav xms eve lunch & my fruit cake in our tnt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Update from Antarctica @ 89°14'4.0"S 89°50'4.0"W

Day 3 another short day. -20 or so. Foggy outside.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Ngày 3 khác ngắn ngày. -20 Hay như vậy. Foggy bên ngoài.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 23 2009:

day 3 another shrt day.-20 or so.foggy os

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Update from Antarctica @ 89°09'40.0"S 88°11'17.0"W

We !did ski as long as planed & decided to take it easy next to days to acclimate better.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Chúng tôi! Đã trượt tuyết miễn là quy hoạch & quyết định đi dễ dàng bên cạnh ngày để acclimate tốt hơn.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 22 2009:

we !did ski as lng as pln_e & decided 2 take it easy nxt 2 days 2 acclimate betr

Monday, December 21, 2009

Update from Antarctica @ 87°06'3.0"S 87°05'34.0"W

Day 1. Got 6 hour skiing on sticky snow. Quite tough. Increase 1 more hour tomorrow. Share tent with Nubo & Andy. Take turn cooking.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Ngày 1. Got 6 giờ trượt tuyết trên tuyết dính. Khá cứng rắn. Tăng thêm 1 giờ vào ngày mai. Chia sẻ với lều Nubo & Andy. Hãy bật nấu.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 21 2009:

day 1.got 6 hr ski_i on sticky sno.quite tuf.incr 1 more hr tmr.share tnt wth nb & ad.take turn cook_i

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 21 2009 21:26:20 GMT

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 21 2009 21:24:58 GMT

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 21 2009 21:16:17 GMT

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 20 2009 22:35:03 GMT

Tomorrow plan is ski 6 or 7 hour to aclimate. We're @ 9036 foot. Share tent with Nubo.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Ngày mai kế hoạch là trượt tuyết 6 hoặc 7 giờ đến aclimate. Chúng tôi đang @ 9.036 foot. Chia sẻ với Nubo lều.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 20 2009:

tmr pln is ski 6 or 7 hr 2 aclimate.we're @ 9036 ft.share tnt wth nb

Update from Antarctica @ 88°59'50.0"S 85°35'2.0"W

Landed @ 89 degree. Beautiful weather. Camp 4 the night before skiing tomorrow.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Đã hạ cánh @ 89 độ. Thời tiết đẹp. Trại 4 đêm trước khi trượt tuyết vào ngày mai.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 20 2009:

lnd_e @ 89 deg.beau wthr.camp 4 d nite b4 ski_i tmr

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 20 2009 01:00:52 GMT

Forgot to mention David is now our guide. Ronnie un fortunately hurt his back a little so David replaced him. David is an experient mtneer & polar explorer. So we good.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Quên đề cập đến David bây giờ là hướng dẫn của chúng tôi. Ronnie un may mắn thay đau của mình trở lại một ít để David thay thế ông. David là một mtneer experient & thám hiểm vùng cực. Vì vậy, chúng ta tốt.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 20 2009:

forgot 2 mention dv is now our gde.rn un ftn_l hurt his back a little so dv replaced him.dv is an experient mtneer & polar explorer.so we gud

Update from Antarctica - Dec 20 2009 00:45:18 GMT

Returned to Patriot Hills Basecamp @ 11:30am after 3h of skiing. Pack our sleds. Hope weather is good tomorrow 4 flight to last degree so we can start skiing to the South Pole.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Trở về Patriot Hills Basecamp @ 11:30 sau khi 3giờ của trượt tuyết. Pack Sleds của chúng tôi. Hy vọng là thời tiết tốt vào ngày mai 4 chuyến bay đến mức độ cuối cùng để chúng tôi có thể bắt đầu trượt tuyết đến Nam cực.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 20 2009:

returned 2 ph @ 11:30am after 3h of ski_i.pack our sleds.hope wthr is gud tmr 4 flt 2 last deg so we can strt ski_i 2 d sp

Friday, December 18, 2009

Update from Antarctica @ 80°21'1.0"S 81°18'26.0"W

We practice today , camp out near Patriot Hills Basecamp. Go bak tomorrow , pak 4 trip. Hope to fly out next day.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Chúng ta thực hành ngày hôm nay, trại ra gần Patriot Hills Basecamp. Go bak ngày mai, Pak 4 chuyến đi. Hy vọng để bay ra vào ngày hôm sau.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 19 2009:

we prac 2day,camp out near ph.go bak tmr,pak 4 trip.hope 2 fly out next day

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Update from Antarctica - Dec 17 2009 12:50:51 GMT

Going to have test trip today. A very busy ahead. Met Ronnie , Tanya & John today. Ronnie is da guide. Tanya & John from uk. Also met Nubo , da chnese man yesterday. Now we ready.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

Sẽ có chuyến đi kiểm tra ngày hôm nay. Một rất bận rộn phía trước. Gặp Ronnie, Tanya & John ngày hôm nay. Ronnie là da hướng dẫn. Tanya & John từ uk. Cũng gặp Nubo, da chnese người đàn ông hôm qua. Bây giờ chúng tôi đã sẵn sàng.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 17 2009:

go_i 2 hav test trip 2day.a vry busy ahead.met rn,tn & jn 2day.rn is da guide.tn & jn fr uk.also met nb,da chnese man ytd.now we redy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Audio Dispatch @ Dec 17 2009 04:37:37 GMT

Update from Antarctica @ 80°18'4.0"S 81°20'31.0"W

Arv @ Patriot Hills Basecamp safely.

The above was translated by Kbot.

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Đây là bản dịch sang tiếng Việt bởi Google Language Tools (còn hạn chế và không chính xác):

ARV @ Patriot Hills Basecamp an toàn.

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The following is the original message sent by Khai via satellite on Dec 17 2009:

arv @ ph safely

The Start of the Journey to the South Pole

7AM: I woke to the sound of my alarm. I set up the phone to buzz me at 6AM in anticipation of the call from ANI people. It turned out my phone is set to different time zone :). Anyway, I got no knocking on my door by the owner of the hostel. We were told ANI staff to call us at 6 to 6:15 if we are to fly today, if not, they would call around 10 for different schedule. Nothing happened at 6. I was a little disappointed but totally understood. This is nothing new. Even for a short flight to a Chilean base at the edge of Antarctica on a tour last time I did was delayed multiple times. I realized a long time ago that we come to Antarctica not to conquer it, but to work with it. I thought there would be no flight today.

But by 9:30, Rene (another person from ANI) phoned and told me the weather report they received was looking good and by 10ish, they would get another and let me know. My excitement level increased just by this news.

At 10:56, Rene called again and said, more delay. We have to wait until noon to get confirmation from Patriot Hills.

Just now, at 12:17 Rene called with great news. They will come pick me up at 1pm, departing for the Patriot Hills. I am totally excited.

From now on, it’ll be just text messages I will be sending from Antarctica, not the whole paragraph. Hopefully things work out for me here. But the main thing is I hope everything works out well for me in Antarctica. Wish me luck. It’s showtime!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pre-trip Reflection

I made sure I had a good meal before the long journey with all freeze dried food (this time it'll be Norwegian kind - not sure how it is going to be better that what I ate in the North Pole) and high calorie snacks. Also I have been craving for seafood and this is Punta Arenas, right next to Strait of Magellan, there should be plenty of seafood restaurants. So I decided to go for a feast on sea creatures.

I bumped into Nick on the street. He was going to get some postcards to send home in the UK. I asked him for a recommendation. He knows the town pretty well, so he said I should check out Sotitos restaurant. They have the best seafood in town. It's kind of out of the way, far end of downtown. And true to his recommendation, it was excellent. I had pretty much full course meal (except for dessert -- I would have if I had room for it). I ordered a veggie soup, squid for appetizer, and fish for entree. They were all delicious. I wish I had room for dessert :)

Now I am full and relaxing at the hostel, I suddenly feel the need to write more.

It's been amazing ride for me to get to this point. Although this kind of adventure is not new as I did the North Pole, but still I had to go through a lot of hurddles to get to here.

Firstly, and obviously, the finance. It can be a down payment of a house. I had to get a loan and support from sponsors (not too much but anything helps). I want to thank them for supporting me. When I told people the cost, everyone thought I was crazy, not about the fact that I am going to Antarctica and South Pole, but the way I managed to pay for it.

Secondly, if you follow this blog, I did quite a bit of training. I had an amazing summer when I did my major work as preparation for this. A lot of climbing. And tire hauling. And gym sessions. I want to fully experience Antarctica and a good preparation is part of process. You can never be over-prepared for this kind of trip. I really hope what I done so far helps.

Last but not least, the support of my family and friends. For the North Pole, most people worried about me, but I made it back safe and sound. It's a proof that when you take a good care of yourself and well prepared, you can be safer. This is Antarctica, nothing is guaranteed and the fact is it is a big risk to take to do this kind of expedition. Preparation lowers the risks but does not eliminate them. That's the fact. But anything in life you do always associates with some risk, so while this seems to be riskier than others but if you know them and mitigate them, they can be part of the enjoyment you'll get.

Patriot Hills


Aerial view of Patriot Hills (image from Wiki)

We
hope to fly out to Patriot Hills base camp tomorrow. In the mean time, a little info on this base camp. This camp is set up by ALE, on the edge of blue ice near the range of the hills around the camp that is called Patriot Hills. This camp is operated seasonally. However, the tents, equipments and food are stored in the ice caves for use annually. All human wastes are flown back to Chile for dumping. They also have a solar panels generate most of the base use. Today Nick went through images of Patriot Hills camp, it looks quite good. In fact Nick said this base camp is the greenest among all the base stations in the Antarctica. Time for the Antarctic station to be greener now. They added more facility year after year. But this is still a very basic camp. The philosophy here is leave no impact on the Antarctic environment.


Blue ice runway

There are main tents for the staff, dining "hall" where it is required there should be no phones (not sure why, maybe people want to enjoy buffet style meals thoroughly without ringtones), a "hospital" tent (which no one wants to occupies) and areas for people who go on expeditions. There are food storage caves as well. These caves have enough food for 300 days for the base.


Toilets

One of the most important tent is toilet. This year they built a nice platform for the toilet (see picture). They separate solid waste and liquid. So we were told do the number one first, then number two :). Women can use either the sitdown or a funnel for the "stall". The reason for separation is on the plane, the waste may thaw out, so the liquid containers are handle differently from the solid ones.

Nick claimed the chef at the base is fantastic, and he cooks the best food. I will have to experience that and let you know my own opinion :).

Gear Shipping

This morning we had a briefing session at The Club Croata (Croatian Club) in downtown Punta Arenas. Nick, one of the owners of the ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions - a mother company of ANI Adventure Network International) . He went over Antarctic safety guidelines, how to preserve the pristine environment, and all other good stuffs.

So for our trip, we have to pack all our solid waste. Good thing they will be frozen and packed away in the sled, not like those mountaineering trips where you put them in your backpack :)

We were told to allow max 30 kg (66 lbs) of checked in lugggage (ie, gears). Any extra kilogram will be charged $60 -- very expensive even compared to those American domestic flight. They will pick up my luggage first, cuz I stay furthest. Most people stay downtown, but me. I go cheap staying in a bed and breakfast a little, out of the way, 25 mins walk to downtown.

I rushed back to hostel and check my luggage again. I packed them yesterday. Together they definitely weigh over 30 kgs. I had to take out and exchange a few things (non essential, including some of the cookies :( - I still have a lot of them though, enough to last me for the trip).

They just came picked up the luggage. Total was 32 kg. Mark was nice enough to let me know not to worry about the extra weight. Thanks guys.

I also met the German guy. His name is Andy. I didn't have the spelling of his last name. He's an avid downhill skier. His "extreme" trip would be backpacking in the Sahara dessert and went to the North Pole on an ice breaker. He said to prepare for this, he went to ski slopes in the Alps to get some altitude exposure, and obviously skiing. Seems like a nice and fun guy to hang out with.

I didn't have a chance to meet the Chinese person. There were a few people from China at the briefing as well, but most of them are going elsewhere, not the ski to the last degree.

The British couple are already at the Patriot Hills. They custom made their trip, going to the Patriot Hills earlier to practice.

My guide is also at the basecamp currently.

So tomorrow, if the weather is good for flying, Mark will call me at around 6am and I have to be within 15 mins. If we cannot fly out tomorrow, he would let me know at 10, and a tentative schedule for the next flight.

I just have a few last thing to do, and one of them is sew the nose beak on my new pair of googles.

Now I'm expedition ready.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gear Checking

So one of the staff from ANI called the B&B and looked for me when I was out for lunch (I couldn´t lounge around waiting for a checkin and I was hungry, so I stepped out for a bite). They left a message with Mary, the B&B owner and asked me to call back. I was happy to see their message. I called them back and again, Mark, the person who called, went for lunch as well. We played phone tag :) Finally, he called when I was napping and said he would drop by in 20 mins to check my gears.

I laid out all my gears, he and I went over the list. We checked every single item and I got everything except for one missing pair of googles. I was looking all over and couldn´t find them anywhere. That was when I remembered that I left them at the Santiago airport :(. No shops opened at late hours. I was was tired, sleepy, hungry and thirsty. I took out a bottle of cookies from my family from the bottom of my backpack where I put the googles on top. They must have fallen under the chair that´s why when I packed everything again, I didn´t think I miss anything, or I might be too tired to focus on anything. Oh well, sh-t happens. Not big a deal but now I have to shed some money to get a new pair and have to sew a nose beak on. Not so fun.

While checking the gears, I asked Mark about the group. Now I know where other people are from. One male from Germany last named Major (may not be spelled this way), one couple from the UK and one guy named Huang from China. So the group will have 5 skiers and one guide.

Tomorrow we are going to group at a club house downtown Punta Arenas to go over everything for about an hour and a half. Most likely in the afternoon we are going ship all our gears to Patriot Hills.

And if weather permits, we´re flying to Patriot Hills basecamp on early Wednesday!

Punta Arenas

After a long wait, and short 3 hour ride, I arrived in Punta Arenas. The town is empty, just like I remember it 4 years ago. The weather is ok here, cool and high humidity. I got to the hostel at 7:30, woke up the lady who owns the bed and breakfast by the door bell. She didn´t seem too upset the fact I arrived so early. But she seems a little frustrated and confused, of course, with my so very broken español. I had to use the back of the Lonely Planet Chile to look up vocabulary for my sentences. I got frustrated at myself too :) We managed to understand each other at the end. In fact, I managed to ask her about a few things including how the tourism in Punta Arenas is doing. She said this year is no good due to global recession and the pandemic (swine flu I supposed - I couldn´t find the spanish word for pig in Lonely Planet :)). We talked, or rather I conversed in choppy spanish words over breakfast (very sweet fruit cake and te) .
I´m now waiting for the room (only check in at 11, darn) to be ready and so ready to crash. It´s been two days I didnt have full sleep. I need to contact the ANI office in Punta Arenas today to find out what´s going on, but now I want to hit the sack so badly.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Next Stop Chile

I'm in Miami, a layover before my flight to Punta Arenas. As I mentioned before, the journey to Punta Arenas is quite long, I will only arrive there on Monday morning! So not looking forward to be on the plane.

Miami is so warm, in the 80s! It is too hot and balmy, on the opposite side of thermometer compared to Colorado. And worse yet, I carry my winter jacket around, looks totally out of place while everyone in shorts and flipflops. Just a few hours flight away and the weather changes drastically. I don't mind the warm weather but this probably won't help me too much at this time. May be I should crank up the AC. Not!

I'm departing for Santiago early tomorrow morning.

Keystone

It turned out the day I arrived in Colorado was the coldest day of the year. Its been warmer (relatively speaking) since, in the 10s and 20s Fahrenheit. I did get to ski in Keystone, about 1.5 hours away from Denver. It is such a beauty country there. Even though it was cold and all, there was not much of snow because this is just the beginning of skiing season. There are a few ski and snowboarding slopes open but most still wait for a major snow fall to start their business. For cross country, it requires lots of snow too. Luckily the trails where I skied was on higher altitude so there was some snow to stride on. And due to lack of snow, I only have to pay for gear rental but not the trail usage. From the Nordic center where I rented the gears to the trail was a 20 mins drive, very scenic. The drive passes through this tiny "town", of 20 houses, called Montezuma. It's a historic town where there was a silver rush back in the day. Most of house were destroyed because of wood stove. Some managed to remain. It's not a ghost town but quite interesting to see some remnants of the past still standing. On the first day of skiing, the snow was nice but there were a few icy sections. I slipped into one of this section on the way downhill back to the trail head. I was wet. My fleece pants was wet but somehow ok, but my hands were practically holding two ice cubes for about 40 mins because my gloves were soaking wet! I learned my lesson not to wear fleece gloves when there may be icy water on the trail :)




The town of Montezuma

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Introducing KBot

It is my pleasure to introduce you KBot, a helper to assist me while I am on the ice and away from civilization. The helper, or the bot, will help me on a few things, making it easier to follow the expedition. These are the tasks that my robot performs:

1) Tirelessly awaits for my messages that I will be sending via satellite phone. It will "sleep" a little though, and check for my dispatches every minute or so. Hence, whatever you see on the blog will be about one minute delayed. You can't get more live than this :). Depends on what messages and commands I send, it will perform the tasks accordingly.

2) Plots my location and path on Google Earth. This allows everyone to know exactly where I am on earth. So there's no "where the heck on earth are you" anymore. It's quite scary to let people track you, but hey, this is different :). It also summarizes my status and calculates how far away I am from the South Pole, and updates it on the blog under Status section. So if you want to see the progress, you'll need to download Google Earth plugin for web browser or download the KML file and view it on standalone Google Earth.

3) Translates my crypted messages into readable (more or less) English. I had a lot of complaints from last trip to the North Pole that it was impossible to understand what I said. So those who complained will be pleased this time around :). It even goes further to translate it into Vietnamese as some don't speak English. The Vietnamese translation is done by Google Language Tools, and let just say they have a lot of work to do.

4) Learns new shorthands and uses them next time. As of now there are about 480 entries in the dictionary that KBot uses to translate my messages, but I'm sure there will be more that I need to add as I go along. I will send it new short forms and it's meaning as needed. It will take new definitions and add to its dictionary and next time I use the shorthands again, it'll know what to do. This task is invisible to you though.

5) Posts my voice dispatches on the blog. I'll do audio update in this expedition, not as much though as it can be costly. It's going to be quite interesting to hear the Antarctic noise - or may our own noise (hopefully not an embarrassing one :)), depends on what it picks up at the time.

6) Sends out tweets when messages are posted to this blog. If you follow me on Twitter (khai_nguyen) and using your phone to receive tweets, this is yet another way to follow the expedition, by the minute (only when I send messages :)).

7) Reports to me the status of the tasks. This is a crucial piece of information. As I send information back, there is no way I can check the blog, twitter and everything else so I have to rely on the reports KBot sends me. If something goes wrong (as always happens to a piece of software), at least I am aware of it and will attempt to fix, either by me directly or have someone to look into this.

8) Recovers from bad inputs. I am the only user of this program but on the ice, there are a million things I need to worried about and I'm sure I will make mistake or the communication might break somewhere from phone to the satellites hanging out at 480 miles above us. So if there are some missing tasks or I do not receive the status report in a certain amount of time, I will send a special command for recovery. If all fails, only human can do the job. Let's hope I do not have to send and SOS to someone to fix the bot.

As I wrote this program (yes, from scratch!), I almost felt like those mission control engineers who work on software for rovers, but in reverse. The rovers are controlled by engineers from a civilized location and I, somewhere in Antarctica, control my bot which resides in the well connected world.

It took me almost 2 months on and off, at night and on some weekends to implement (and research on the technology as most of them are I haven't touched before such as Google Earth, blogger, etc) and test it. There's some last testing I need to do before declaring it's completely ready. I really hope all the work pays off as I spend quite a bit of effort on this. But, I should expect the worse when things go wrong and no one could help me fixing it. That's when I will have to fall back to my old, trusted method: send directly to blog with crypted messages; and I'm sure people will have fun decrypting them :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

First Stop Denver

I have been at Denver airport a million times but never set foot outside. Today is my first time really being in Denver. It's cold. When I arrived this afternoon, it was 3F (-16C). Two hours ago when I was outside driving around looking to buy a camcorder and hotel accommodation, it was -5F (-21C). This condition is perfect for me. I should get used to the cold before it only gets colder in Antarctica.

This trip to Colorado is for training purpose.

First, ovbviously the weather. Colorado can be quite cold as it is on higher altitude. I talked to a hotel staff, she said it's been pretty bad, temperature wise, and lots of snow. Usually it is warmer, as in the 20s (-6C) and wet. The weather turned nasty lately, through out the west coast and here. I don't complain tho :)

Secondly, altitude acclimatization. Denver is called mile high city for a reason, it is elevated at 5281 ft (1609 meters). But I am going to be in Keystone, a ski area which has trails near to 9000ft, almost the same altitude as the South Pole. I did quite a few mountaineering trips and hiking over 14000 ft, so 9000 is not too much of a concern but it's best to get some acclimation before the big trip. I was told due to the extreme weather at the South pole, 10000 ft can feel like 14000. I'll have to find out, soon enough.

And last, to practice cross country skiing again. Since the North pole trip, I did not have a chance to do any cross country. Although how we ski to the pole is not really skiing, let alone cross country. It's almost impossible to glide on the hard, rough sastrugi (ridges formed by snow, everywhere in the polar region) unless there is some smooth snow surface which is quite rare. We found a few place in the North pole we could do that but that was on thin ice! The Antarctic, however does have some as reported by Eric Larsen, who's three weeks into his expedition. Will see what we will find when we are there. Back to the practice, again, it's good to get back the skills, and certainly (and hopefully :)) develop some muscles that were not used in my other trainings (tire pulling, stairmasters, hiking, etc..).

I probbaly do not need to have this training, but hey, I need to give my all to make this expedtion as succesful and enjoyable as possible, right?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

GoPro

I was so excited to receive the "wearable" GoPro HD Helmet camera. I accidentally stumbled upon the site and let me tell you, I was blown away by the demo clips. Simply amazing. So I decided to get the camera for my expedition to the South Pole. I know it's not gonna be the same coolness cuz I will be moving at a snail pace while the demos have lots of actions. Anyway, I got it this week week and couldn't wait until my training day last Thursday to test it out. It turned out I didn't quite know how to use it yet (talking about being technical :)) and I captured nothing. Today I brought it again to my training and shot some videos while doing my usual thing around on the beach.

The videos from today are not too impressive. I do think it was the sports that were used in the demos make it so great. The quality is just ok, in my opinion. I am using full HD mode with 30 frames per second. The clips are a little bouncy as I wore the camera on my head. Next week I definitely want to test it again in different setting (snow) in Colorado, and will mount it before my chest. I think the bounciness should be reduced.

Below is the one of the results from today. It was *very* windy and quite "cold" (to Calif standard - in the 40s (8C) without windchill). If you're looking for something interesting, it's not :). There was not much going on on the beach, just deserted as usual. However, people can go for horse back riding as you can see in the clip (besides hauling some dead weight like me :)).


video
The test GoPro video clip

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blast From the Past

Well, it's not my past but these North Pole photos are taken from Mark Abouzeid, a photojournalist who went to the North Pole at the same time as I did: http://www.markabouzeid.com/blog/featured/the-north-pole/

He also has a post that has my picture (and a paragraph about me :) ) Longyearbyen – day 1

Prep Works

I have done a lot of preparation, since the beginning of the year but somehow I still find myself having too much to do before the departure. I guess part of it is this time I do a lot of things myself, from custom made stuffs for the expedition to technology support. I pretty much multitask right now. Here's my typical week day and weekend.
- Weekday: go to work, hit the gym after work, then either work on an application I called kbot (a helper which I will explain later) on in a meeting for work with remote site at night.
- Weekend: Hit the beach for tire pulling, shop for additional stuffs I could think of, make some custom items for the trip.
Of course there are other things I do too, like going out or catch a movie, but these activities are rare.
One good thing is I know what I want for this trip. And I want lots of good cookies. Actually cookies are not the only things I will be eating. More like mix with others like chocolate, candy, salami, powerbar, nuts and dried fruit. I will bake some, to my own taste but I have my family send me their creation too. Cookies are going fly in from all over the place, from Toronto, Guelph (Canada) to LA. It's going to be Christmas after all. Looking forward to eat good stuffs on the way to South Pole.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beach Again

Just want to post a couple of pix I took yesterday on the beach pulling a tire. Good thing Half Moon Bay beaches at this time of the year is quite empty. And yet, people stopped me to ask what I was doing. It's funny one lady said "did you realize that you are pulling a tire?" I laughed, I was fully aware of it.



Dragging a tire with additional weight attached on wet sand can be quite tiring (a tire is tiring, duh)





My tracks on the beach

Christmas Treats

The expedition will span over Christmas so I want to have some Christmassy feel at the bottom of the world. I asked my family to bake me some cookies, make sure to load them with lots of calories. These will be my "meals" at each break on the way skiing to the pole. I will also bake my own, too. Another thing that reminds me of the holiday is Second Cup apple cider (Canadian da best!). I love this drink, especially with a cinnamon stick. I can't wait for a hot and steamy cup of cider mixed with wonderful aroma of cinnamon while it is completely white outside. I'll have my family send me this for sure. Maybe I'll find some cinnamon sticks in Punta Arenas?

I also think I should bring a tiny Xmas tree with me, or maybe just a paper pine tree, the kind you find people hang in their car :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tentative Itinerary

So I bite the bullet and and buy the darn Air Canada ticket, the last leg from Toronto to San Francisco on the return trip from the South Pole exped. Been checking the price but they're not on sale, not as much I would like to pay.

Here's the latest itinerary with lots of flying and waiting time in between. Not sure if I am looking forward to lots of layovers in between.

Dec 8: San Jose - Denver
- Cross country skiing
Dec 12: Denver - Dallas - Miami
- Stop over in Miami
Dec 13: Miami - Santiago
- Stop over in Santiago
Dec 14: Santiago - Punta Arenas

Dec 16: expedition officially starts
- Lots of things happen from this point
- Fly to Patriot Hills base camp
- Skiing the last degree
- Fly back to base camp
Dec 29:
- Fly from base camnp to Punta Arenas

Jan 3: Punta Arenas - Santiago
- Lay over in Santiago
Jan 4: Santiago - Mexico City
- Stopver in Mexico City
Jan 5: Mexico City - Toronto
- Real rest in Toronto
Jan 7: Toronto - San Francisco

Friday, October 23, 2009

Custom Made Gears

This week I emailed Eric Larsen on the training we were supposed to be doing by the end of Oct or early Nov. Unfortunately he could not spare much time as he's going to depart for his Save The Poles project on Nov 5. That leaves him virtually no time with all the preparation he has to do. Apparently he's going to lead a team to ski from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole (730 miles or 1,175km). This will be the first leg of his quest to complete the 3 poles within 365 days. Amazing guy. Too bad I don't have the chance to work with him and learn from him. But hey, who knows if our paths cross in Antarctica this time. His trip will last about 60 days, by the time I start skiing, he's about 40-45 days into his expedition.

One thing I asked him was the nose beak. I wished I had this when I was in the North Pole. The balaclava did not work so well, it was almost impossible to breathe. The ice would form outside where you want the air coming in. I found myself pulling the thing off my nose to gape for air and pulled it back up to protect my face from the cold wind. The nose beak would hopefully block some wind and leave enough gap at the bottom for me to respire.

The nose beak is not available anywhere. I have done search online and found none that serves the purpose. So it'll be custom made. I did buy some fabric for this but not sure how it would work in cold and windy condition. I asked him some tips on the material. It is nylon and fleece. So this weekend or next I will be making this nose beak for my goggles. And extra ones, just in case I need a replacement. That also means this time I have bring along repair kit (needles and threads) and be a good mother when little things break :). By the way, this is the standard kit any explorer must bring along, for fixing the tent or ripped clothes.

Another item I need to sew is the fur for my jacket hood. I bought a jacket for the trip recently but was too cheap on spending another $160 to have fur attached on the hood. Instead I am going to re-use the fur from the jacket I wore in the North Pole trip, but some customization needs to be done.

And the last big one is the VBL for my sleeping bag. My down bag is rated at -40F (also -40C). Down bag works well when it's dry. When you sleep, unless you are really cold, you will sweat and it gets into the bag. To prevent the bag from getting wet, people use a VBL, vapor barrier liner, made from nylon or plastic, to stop the sweat from vaporize from the skin and gets into the bag. As a result, sleeper may feel dammed but this problem is easier to deal with.

All of this I will have to make by myself. People who are in this kind of trip have to be able to do everything from cooking, sewing to a lot of hard work.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Months To Go

60 days before the expedition starts. I am excited about it but I can't say that I was in the same excitement and nervousness level as I was for the North Pole. I think mostly because having been to the North Pole help and also I have been preparing for this since the beginning of the year.

Having said that, I do have a lot of things to prep for this trip, strangely. From additional gear acquisition to technology, everything is still not yet in place.

I bought a new anorak 3 days ago (and on its way to me). The one I used in the North Pole is goretex which is not suitable for South Pole apparently. Goretex is waterproof and breathable. But since South Pole is going to be super dry and breathability of goretex stops working under -20C, there is little use. The new anorak is made of nylon and been tested (as it was said and recommended by ANI) so I have no option but trust it.

On the technology front, it was unfortunate that I cannot rent a tracker. The only place I found on the internet that (used to) rent out this device is in Australia but they no longer do so. They only sell the device along with monitoring packages. If I was richer, I probably would purchase it and use away. But even if that's the case, I still have to improvise the battery or recharge it somehow because the battery life only lasts 8 hours.

So instead, I will use my satellite phone and GPS to do it manually. I will dispatch my GPS location every night. This was part of the plan anyway but the plot will not look as smooth and web followers will not be able to see my movement every hour or two.

Speaking of this, I still have to develop my own Java application to handle the messages I'm going to send and plot the traverse path on Google Earth or Google Map. It'll be some work too. Hopefully two months is enough to write and test the app before I go. I also have my brother in law to host this app for me so in that sense I have someone to take care of any outages or hiccups with the program while I am on the ice.

Lots of more things to do but not sure it's its too little time. It remains to be seen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mt Whitney - Photos









Highslide JS



Sign the log book



Highslide JS



Next to the plaque


Highslide JS



One view from the top



Highslide JS



Stand before the stone house


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mt Whitney - Second Attempt

We got back to LA on Monday and to the Bay the following day. Rest was what we needed. I then talked to my coworker about our trip. She told me her husband was going to do Mt Whitney day hike on the weekend with a bunch of friends. They had one extra permit (one person in the group dropped out). Mind you, obtain permits to hike Mt Whitney requires luck. They have the whole lottery system going on. However, permits in Oct are pretty to get.

So I was really tempting to do the hike even while I was not fully recovered. It would be 3 days apart to the next trip to the same mountain! I talked to my work and finally decided to take this opportunity to "redeem" myself. The weather was going to be excellent, even better than the time I was on the mountain. It would be cold but sunny and not windy.

Friday came and 5 guys and I happily hopped on the freeways aiming at the direction to the same mountain I failed to scale a few days ago. These guys are young and motivated as some of them had attempted this feast before (some failed and one succeeded).

We did not get to the campground right outside of the trail head until 6pm. We pitched the huge tent that would fit all of us and organize our summit-packs for the early hike in the morning. We went to bed at 8pm.

At a 2:30 wake up call, we got out and prepare our breakfast to start our hike. By the time we finish eating, drinking hot cocoa, last min preps and be at the trail head, it was 4:30.

It was still very dark at this time. Everyone had their headlamp shooting the powerful rays on the trail, helping us maneuvering over the rocks and other obstacles. This was my first time hike in a the dark. It wasn't bad as the trail was very well marked and it was almost impossible to get lost.

After almost 4 hours and 45 min with a few breaks in between, we reached to the Trail camp where I camped for the night 4 days back. I was happy to see the lake ice free. I refilled half a liter and treat it with iodine table. Needed to have enough fluid for the summit and back. I had 3 liters of water with me. From Trail camp on, there is no other source of water.

The section right after Trail camp has the (in)famous 97 switchbacks. These are known to be the killer. These would lead hikers to ascend very quickly. A lot of people would turn back during or after these switchbacks.

After recharging myself with lots of water and food at the Trail camp, I headed out the to the first of the zigzags. I was surprised that I could take on these guys with ease. I kept on walking up and up and did not stop much. I found myself finished about 80 of them before I really needed a rest.

At the end of the switchbacks is the Trail Crest (13777 feet or 4199m). This is the section where the trail drop 500f and the rest would be up hill battle. Why dropping 500f seems nice to let the muscles recover from the brutal climb, this means on the way back, hikers must climb this much. Not a good idea.

At this point I already had headache, due to altitude. I was not out of breath but breathing heavily. Good thing it did not worsen as I did my breathing technique I learned from Mt Shasta and Rainier climb.

I met this couple who were on the way back from the summit. They told me it would be only about an hour or so away. It was 11:30 and I would beat my own goal to reach the top by 2pm the latest. I was excited. It turned out not true. The trail winds behind the east face of the summit, looking west. It is very rocky and would go up and down. Also the real peak is not visible that means there is a long way to go from there.

It took me 2 hours and 10 mins to reach to the summit at 1:40pm. The stone house is such a small shelter but seeing it from the bottom of the peak was such a relief. I finally reached to the top of the highest mountain in lower 48!

I took a few photos and signed my name in the log book and descending the peak. Reaching the summit is just half way as I have learned.

The way down is uneventful except that the sky turned dark so quickly. Half of the descend was in total darkness. My headlamp now came to rescue. One frustrating thing about going down in the dark my perception of distance deceived me. I saw car light, especially red break light, and would think i was so close to the trail head and gave me hope. I found myself disappointed so many times to learn that I had hours to get down!

I reached to the portal at 9:30pm. A total of 17 hours in this marathon hike. 22 miles round trip with 6100+ feet (1860m) elevation gain. Few days apart of the the first attempt. It was quite a bit of work there. All I think of was a bowl of hot soupy noodles and a nice warm bed.

I expect to be this tired in the South Pole. Everyday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mt Whitney - First Attempt

Mt Whitney (14,505 feet or 4,421 m - the highest peak in the mainland US) is the last mountain I climbed as part of my training before my departure to the South Pole.

The weekend of Oct 3, my friend and I made our attempt to scale the mountain. Unlike most people, we did not plan this trip for a long time (some planned a year ahead). We got our multiday hiking permits in August. The plan was to do backpacking style. We were going to backpack to the the Trail Camp and spend the night there and ascend to the summit the next day. We did exactly that. Our backpacks were quite heavy. Hers was about 30 lbs and mine was almost 40 cuz I volunteered to carry our tent and cooking stuffs. My friend had not been training as much so it made sense for me to carry more.

We started out from Los Angeles at 5:30am on Sunday (10/4) and drove to Whitney Portal where the trail head starts. The drive was about 4 hours and mostly smooth except for one almost-a-misery event.

As we we passing along the freeways, we found so many gas stations so we figured there was no need to worry about the half full (or empty) gas tank. Little did we know, as we entered the stretch of the desert land on highway CA 395, there was no gas station when the gas tank light was on. There was no sign saying that there would be no gas for the next so ad so miles, at least not that both of us could see.

We were pretty much driving very conservatively, turning off everything, no fan, radio, AC and put on neutral on downhill and even on one small uphill section. We were driving in such stressful mode and I was so ready to push our car should it stop running. The highway was empty too. It was Sunday morning in a desert land after all.

After more than 20 miles of driving on warning- light-on, we thought to ourselves that it was it, we could not last any longer and there was a blue sign with some sort of a structure standing alone on the left of the road in the distance.

Expecting for a disappointment (as we passed a few building structures earlier and they turned out to be ghost or abandoned farm house), we found a savior as the sign growing bigger with the word Mobil. This gotta be one of most happiest moments in our lives, at least mine. We pulled over and filled the tank as full as possible. It could have been a disaster if we didn't find this little station. It's interesting that this tiny place carried free postcards of its own. I guess a lot of people had been in similar situation. We collected the cards as our souvenir for the trip.

We reached to the Whitney Portal before 10 and prepared our hike. It was a beautiful day, quite cold, about mid 40's F (7C). We donned our backpacks and put away all extra food and scented items in a bear locker (turned out it was a trash bin I didn't realized later!). We started our hike at 10:50.

The hike was very nice as the weather was cool but sunny. I was impressed with my friend as she didn't train for this hike, at least not with heavy backpack. She set the pace for the hike and it was a pretty good pace.

As we winding our way up the mountain, we met a lot of people who were descending. All of them could not make it to the top due to pretty bad weather the night before and the wind gust at the top. Apparently the wind was so strong it went at 70 miles/hr. It would definitely blow people off the trail. This was not a good news for us. Another bad news was we were told there was no water at the Trail Camp where we were going to spend the night. The lake at the camp was frozen. Despite the news, we kept going because the sun has been out all morning and hoped some of the ice were melting.

After a long 5h 30 mins we finally reached to the camp site. Carrying heavy backpack on a 6 miles long hike was no easy task. Now time to pitch the tent and prepare dinner. My friend job was to get water and I build the tent. This was not my first time pitching this tent but did it in the cold (in 30s or 0C) is no fun nor easy.

With some small struggles with the poles, I managed to erect the tent, just in time my friend came back with water. It turned out she had to hack the ice to get water by the edge of the pond. Her filter didn't worked as the water would freeze inside the tube. So I told her to forget about the clean water. We just had to boil it to kill bacteria and or things. Both of us were pretty much freezing but I think she was colder as she dealt with water while I was fighting with the tent.

Finally we started our stove and begin to boil some precious water. The tiny portable stove didn't mean act as camp fire but traces of heatwave on top of the kettle helped our blood to circulate in our hands. By the time the water boiled and gave off some steam, we poured it into our freeze dried food packages for our dinner. Boiling water on a high altitude (the Trail camp is at 12000f or 3657m) in cold temperature did take forever. I managed to boil some more of the water that I myself got from the lake. By the time we finish our dinner, the sky pretty much dark and time to retreat in our tent.

That night was cold. I had 0 degree (-18C) sleeping bag and was in two layers of clothes. So did my friend. Actually she put more on, pretty all she had. We were both cold in our bags and could not sleep well. I started to develop headache, first symptoms of AMS. I was not sleeping the whole night until my alarm went off at 5am. We "woke" up and exchanged our idea for the day. Turned out she had headache too and was not able to sleep. So I decided stay in until 7 and would make up our mind whether we should ascend.

By 7, the sun was out completely. The air was crisp and cold but fresh. The headache did not go away as I had hope for. We both decided not to take the risk and push ourselves. So down was the way to go. We broke the tent and packed up. It took almost an hour before we could descend.

On the way down, the sun shined brilliantly. Such a beautiful day for hiking. I did have a little regret that I could not go further up, but that thought was quickly dismissed. There was only two of us, we had to go up or down together. The mountain is here to stay and there will always be another time.

Also while zigzag-ing our way down the mountain, I realized that my refilled lake water was full of algae and dirt I could not detect last night. What could one do but drink it while the untreated water off the stream was more susceptible with problem. At least I had extra protein and fibre in my drink :)

We got down to Portal shortly before noon and called it a hike.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Training Pix

Lately I upped the ante by increasing the frequency of hiking and climbing. Yosemite, Mt Tallac, Mt Rainier, Mt Tallac again and upcoming Mt Whitney. Hopefully I'll be in even better shape by the time South Pole expedition takes place












Mt Rainier
(9/7/2009)











Mt Tallac
(9/19/2009)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Commitment

I finally sent the huge check to ANI on Monday last week. Although this is supposedly to be a great news but the stress from a loan/spending this kind of money in one shot definitely overwhelmed my excitement. It took me a few days to slowly digest the matter.

So I'm fully commited.

There's only one direction I'm looking at now: The South Pole.

I just want to let everyone know I am still looking for sponsorship. Do let me know if you know one. Any tip/lead is really appreciated.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Pics

Yosemite:


Me at the Upper Yosemite Fall trail head


Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley

video
View from the top

Half Moon Bay:


Get ready for the beach
Carry the tire
Beach walk
Pull
A small hill to climb
Maneuver
Successfully pull the (darn) tire to the top

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Activities

Weekends are for training as usual, i.e. hiking and tire pulling. This weekend was a little more fun.

I decided to go Yosemite National Park with my friend Peter, hiking up to the Upper Yosemite Fall. While this is not the most challenging hike in Yosemite for most people, it is for me because I had my 40 lbs backpack. Most people bring two or 3 bottles of water and snack which usually weight a less than 10 pounds.

The trail is 3.5 miles, with 2700 feet elevation gain. Average person can do it from 6-8 hours round trip. Upper Yosemite Fall trail is steeper than Mission peak which is 2.8 miles and gains 2100 ft.

We started out Friday after work, drove to Groveland, one hour away from the park. We got lost a little but managed to reach to our motel at 11:30pm. Earlier in the week we couldn't book a cheap room so we decided to sleep in a tent the motel offered. Apparently a lot of people do that too, to save some cash.

Saturday morning we got inside the park by 8. The park was pretty empty. We were told it would get packed later in the day. I couldn't complain. It was nice with less people.

We got to the trail head at 9 exactly. After a few photo ops, we started hiking. At first the weight seemed ok for me. I was used to it. But boy, about half way, the sun was out and it was hot, right at the section there was no shade. I was dying pretty much. At the beginning, we try to make a steady pace, and have 10 mins breaks every 50 mins. After the 3rd one, I requested more frequent stops. Good thing Peter drank a lot of water but that didn't help too much off loading the weight on my back. He asked me jokingly why I was torturing myself and that he found such a great deal on this trip. Usually carrying water up the trail is a big thing for people. I carried all our water (obviously) and when he finished his, I just refilled his. Never have to go stingy on water! About 2/3 of the way, i was pretty drag my foot. I was in exhaustion and Peter suggested me to dump some water. I refused. We finally made it to the top by 1:15. Man, it was such a relief, literally :) I could finally take off my backpack and lie down on the rock. Such a great bed at that moment.

We stayed there at the top of the fall for one hour and 15 mins to lunch and rest and enjoy the view. Beautiful view from the top though it could get better if there was sunshine.

On the way down, while I had no issue (now that my backpack was half the weight as I had dumped the some water), Peter was in misery. His knees couldn't cope very well with the descending, especially on the rocky trail like this one. It was his turne to request frequent stops.

We finally reach to the trail head at 5. We were glad with the result, though this trip was not to time ourselves, not with the backpack I had anyway. Peter runs but doesn't hike so this was his big one since forever.

We stayed Sat night in Groveland again. We took it easy as the town has nothing to offer.

This morning we drove back to the Bay area to "my" training beach. I told my friends how people react when they see me pulling the tire but none had joined me to the beach until today. As usual, some people looked and we ignored them, some were curious and talked to me. It's just part of the routine and in fact it makes the training less boring :)

Because this time I was with someone, I had a lot of pictures taken. I'll post some pictures and video of the hike and the beach tomorrow when download them to my computer.

All in all, hiking national park and beach bumming in one weekend is not too shabby, eh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fund Finding

The biggest challenge is getting funded for the trip. I haven’t done much on sponsorship. This year in particular is not a good year to go around asking for money to get a person to an unimaginable place. So if I want to go, I have to explore other options. I am exploring getting a loan. I am trying to work out the details on this plan, how much financial risk I can take and how I am going to pay back, and that how much it will affect me. I must have everything worked out by the end of the first week of Sept, before the deadline to send ANI the big cheque.

Let me tell you, finding funds is no fun.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beachcombing

Part of my training is pulling a tire (or two). I have been slacking in this department but the trip is not too far away. I really have to get back to tire pulling training. So I went to Half Moon Bay yesterday.

It was such a beautiful day, not too hot (high 70's ~ 26C). There was heavy traffic to the beach at 2pm when I went there. I spent like 20 mins driving around along CA Highway 1 to scout for a relatively empty beach to pull the tire. Last time I did, people really looked at me weird. I did not want to explain to people what I am doing so an empty beach would be nice. Also I don't have to run into people or dogs every few steps. I finally found this beautiful spot, quite empty.

I donned my long sleeve shirt, attached my hiking pants' legs, slipped my feet inside the almost-6 lbs mountaineering shoes, applied some sun screen and voila I was ready for my first day back to pulling.


An ugly picture of me. You can see how empty the beach is
Along Northern California beaches are cliffs. This one is no exception. The access to the beach is quite steep, especially when you have stiff mountaineering shoes and carrying a tire. I managed to come down fine.

There was just a few people on the beach. Some with dogs. I started to pull the thing. I was surprised I didn't find it too bad as the last time I tried it. Maybe I have improved a lot? I combed the beach back and forth for about 1 hour 15 mins and I wasn't dead tired. I was very happy about it. Next time I probably could attach some weight to the tire or maybe add another one.

As I moved along the beach, there was a few people looked at me but I ignored them. But when I finished with my laps, I ran into this couple. The wife asked me what I was training for. I said to simulate pulling a sled. She then went on asking where I was going. I told her about my plan to the South pole. They showed their surprise and interest and asked me a lot questions. They seemed to be the active kind. The husband did some winter camping in Maine and the wife really worked out quite a bit. Anyway, they wished me luck when they left. I do need it in the Antarctica.

I have a tiny video clip. Enjoy the beach :)

video
Beachcombing