We have been Skyping Lewis in Punta Arenas for the past week but suddenly last night all went quiet. After a 5 day delay due to bad weather, Lewis arrived at Union Glacier, Antarctica (pictured right) at 7am (GMT), 4am his time, after an overnight flight (approx. 5 hours) from Southern Chile (we presume – from information we have gathered from other expeditions. Lewis now has no means of contacting us directly, except a satellite phone which is mainly for emergencies, and we will hear only from base camp once he sets off). For convenience Union Glacier works on Chilean time (the few other landing sites in Antarctica tend to adopt the time of where ever the flights come in from).
Lewis and Carl will spend a day or two checking out their tent and chopping tonnes (slight exaggeration) of cheese and salami into pieces and putting them into plastic bags (this is apparently a very long and important job!).
Weather permitting, a small aircraft on skis will then fly them the short hop to Hercules Inlet (on the edge of the Ronne Sea Ice shelf) from where their 8 week, 730 mile trek will begin. We expect this to be on Sunday or Monday.
Union Glacier is home to a small temporary base camp established each Antarctic summer for a few months. There are fixed tents as well as a communal dining tent where a small number of remarkable and diverse people from all over the globe gather from before their expeditions begin. Some, like Lewis, will start from Hercules Inlet, others from other established start points. Remember Antarctia is nearly twice the size of Australia so it won’t be long before they are flung to all four corners.