A Journey South

During this notable brisk and snowy festive season, my dad
currently finds himself in a very relatable predicament, if a wholly
un-relatable situation.

You see, like many people up and down the UK, Dad has found
wind and snow to be preventing him for reaching his desired destination.
However, rather than being unable to make it to school or work, the weather is preventing my old man from scaling the highest peak in Antarctica and subsequently skiing to the geographic south pole. The problem’s began almost immediately, having flown from London to Punta Arenas, Chile’s most southern city, Dad then should’ve flown onto Union Glacier, located in Ellsworth Land, Antarctica, however weather issues prevented them from leaving on schedule. With delays starting to look major, it became necessary to bare the storm and fly in the midst of the kind of weather small aircrafts generally avoid, especially when the pilots are relying on visual flying. Despite the conditions Dad arrived safely, knuckles white and stomach freshly emptied.   

Having finally escaped from Chile, Dad landed on Union Glacier in the midst of a blizzard. This would keep him stranded there for 5 days, sleeping in tents in temperatures that fell as low as -20 degrees
Celsius, causing Dad to suffer frost nip in his fingers and nose; not as
serious as frost bite but still extremely painful (were hopeful he won’t have to saw his finger ends off a la Renulph Fiennes). Maddeningly, the team were required to trek back and forth between Union Glacier and base camp in order to move their gear to the point at which they would begin their climb to the peak, however once again they found themselves held up by poor weather conditions.  Eventually, Dad and his cohorts were able to
take advantage of a brief break in the weather to set out, reaching the summit and return to base camp in a mere 4 days, an astonishing achievement given the record, set by a team of highly experienced mountaineers, is 3.    

The next stage of the journey will be to ski to the South Pole, however the weather is currently holding dad up once again; the idea was that he would be back in time for Christmas however this is looking less and less likely as the journey goes on.

This is not the first of Dad’s little excursions, having already journeyed to his current destinations northern counterpart as well as
taming such beasts as Kilimanjaro (the highest peak in Africa), Aconcagua (the highest in South America and the highest outside of Asia) and Elberus (debatably the highest in Europe), amongst others. So I think all of this needs to be looked at with a greater perspective. 

You see Dad hasn’t spent his entire life as an explorer (maybe at heart), he spent the first portion of his adult life building up a business he started in the midst of raising two young (handsome and charming) sons. Through all the years he was providing for his family I believe that it was always in his DNA to chase the spirit of adventure, but it wouldn’t be until his 40’s that Dad would go on his first expedition, climbing Kilimanjaro in 2010. On that journey, as on his current and all those in between, Dad faced hardships and set backs but was equal to them all. 

For most people it is not enough to simply survive, having a vision and pursuing it is one of the things that defines us as humans. However it’s easy to drift from the track in the melee of 21st century existence and the responsibility that comes with it. It seems to me that is is not that people forget to dream, but that we can forget there was ever anything that inspired us in the first place. As with Dad being stalled by the weather, it is almost always the case that in the face of short term struggles people will step up and find that they can achieve things they never imagined, but it is allowing yourself to take the first step of the journey that can be the most difficult. 

H.C x

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