Vinson Challenge

is climbing the highest mountain in Antarctica in support of the CINI and Marie Curie charities...
 

Welcome to the Vinson Challenge Blog – Lord Forsyth's live reports during the expedition to climb Antarctica's highest peak.

Please click here to view the slideshow of high-resolution photographs of the expedition.

Or click here to view the Google Earth Fly-in.

 


Michael ForsythTuesday 11 January 2011 at 13:42Post #16 Reply

Subject: Last post

I am safely home now, having arrived at Heathrow on Saturday afternoon to an unexpected welcoming party from the family - including my two grandchildren Hugo and Charlie. Thank goodness they decided against banners! I would have died of embarrassment.

All of you have been so kind. My office sprang a surprise party, and even commissioned a cake, while everyone in the Lords has been so supportive and enthusiastic. I am being crushed by an avalanche of emails, each of which I will try to answer. It is really humbling and frankly astonishing to hear how many people were following my scribblings from Antarctica and sharing them with their family and friends.

The donations continue to roll-in for Marie Curie Cancer Care and CINI, but if you know of anyone who might like to offer support then please encourage them. People can still contribute online or by sending a cheque made payable to Marie Curie Cancer Care to me at the House of Lords. Every taxpayer should also please complete the gift aid form that can be downloaded from http://www.lordforsyth.com/giftaid.pdf.

Many people have asked about photographs. Although there is nothing worse than boring people with your holiday snaps, I have taken the risk and have placed a hundred photos of the climb on the website. These are captioned and enable you to follow my progress from start to finish. The first 15 are low resolution, but from base camp onwards there are some excellent high quality images taken by David Hamilton. He is not only a good mountaineer, but also an accomplished photographer. You can view them now by clicking this link http://www.lordforsyth.com/slideshow.html.

All that remains is to say thank you to all the donors - who have exceeded my wildest expectations with their generosity - and of course my support team. Mandy Naumann my PA has just been fantastic. John Hayes designed, created and ran the website and administered the blog - and dealt with my postings sometimes in the middle of the night. And David Hamilton who guided me to the summit and helped me to fulfil a lifetime dream. Thank you all.

It has been a terrific challenge and certainly took me out of my comfort zone. I have learned one important lesson though. Never sit next to Sir Ranulph Fiennes at dinner!

Michael


Peter ForsythTuesday 11 January 2011 at 16:21Reply #102

By the look of that pee hole altitude must affect the ability to aim.

David and JillTuesday 11 January 2011 at 17:01Reply #103

Michael

Fantastic slide show and great blog. Could be the start of another career? You must be very pleased with your achievement. You have made me very jealous. Well done. Looking forward to hearing all about it in person.

David and Jill


Avril O RiordanTuesday 11 January 2011 at 17:30Reply #104

Congratulations!
I have just spoken to Dom(Dominic Jude) still in Antarctica ... with a Winston Churchill book and some volleyball-playing mountaineers...waiting on a weather window to fly out!
I think you have done a remarkable and worthwhile expedition here! As a supporter of CINI UK and any cancer charity I am delighted.
Do hope Dom has not encouraged you into a trip to the Himalaya shortly...

Sue Clough & familyTuesday 11 January 2011 at 22:18Reply #105

Congratulations from all the Clough family in Somerset. You have made it! The conditions looked superb. Not only have you achieved a personal ambition, but helped others in the process - well done.

David & FionaWednesday 12 January 2011 at 05:11Reply #106

Michael - Fiona and I just wanted to add our congratulations and admirations. Well done to you and for what you have done for the Charities, you must feel great. Loved the blog and photos. David & Fiona

Michael ForsythThursday 06 January 2011 at 20:16Post #15 Reply

Subject: It's an ill wind

It is a great feeling to have that summit behind me. I did feel a real sense of fear and apprehension when I set off on Boxing Day, and I thank God that we were blessed with such good weather. I was acutely aware that a party had been trapped at High Camp for eight nights and was anxious to get back down the mountain to Base Camp.

We had learned from the VHF radio that the nice Canadian pilot of the Twin Otter had slipped while getting out of his plane at Base Camp and had badly broken his arm. As a result there would be a plane there today and the prospect of an immediate flight out to Union Glacier.

The long descent was particularly scary on the section with fixed ropes between Low and High Camp which I had hated so much on the ascent. Walking down a steep snow and ice covered slope with the Low Camp a sheer drop of 3,000 ft below was tedious and a little unsettling. There was a safety rope but my brain was sceptical about its efficacy. I was back to carrying everything and the big pack just added to the stress of it all.

Then we were safely down at Low Camp and the sledges took some of the burden. My heart began to sing as the effects of high altitude receded. I was so lucky to be here in this untainted glorious place - but I was focussed now on getting home and back to work. My flight out was not until next Tuesday, as there is only one Ilyushin a week, and even that is weather dependent.

We had climbed the mountain far faster than anyone had anticipated. By 6.00pm yesterday we were back at base and I could savour that beer-on-ice that Fran had promised me. 'Would I like to go to Chile tonight?' I was asked. Of course - but how? The pilot had to be treated on the mainland and an Ilyushin was coming, loaded with fuel to collect him - and I could go on that flight at 2.00am if I wanted.

Fantastic. A beautiful flight back in the Twin Otter over countless unclimbed peaks, followed by two enormous helpings of fillet steak, mashed potatoes, vegetables and beetroot - all washed down with a Chilean red at Union Glacier - completed a perfect day! It was just sad that my good fortune arose from such bad circumstances. By 2.00am the wind was at 22 knots and sending a deep carpet of spindrift across the glacier and the blue ice runway.

I, of course, had packed all my severe-weather gear and it was now in the hold of the aircraft I was about to board. So it turned out that catching the plane home was the closest I came to getting frostbite on the entire trip! The walk across the slippery ice with the icy wind adding to the severe cold made me quite nostalgic for boarding at Heathrow! With gusts of 25 knots it was questionable whether we would take off, but the Russian crew just carried on regardless and in scenes that would have fitted comfortably into a Bond movie.... charming young ladies, including a medic from Skye, buzzing around on skidoos, offering assistance.

The whole operation run by ANI (Adventure Network International) is faultless. The company was founded by former members of the British Antarctic Survey, and they certainly know what they are doing in a continent that punishes mistakes severely. The camp manager told me my steak was so good because the cost of the best steak money can buy is insignificant compared to the expenditure required to get it there and cook it.

This expedition would never have succeeded without my guide, David Hamilton, who is not only an outstanding mountaineer but also a great photographer. He looked after me brilliantly - and if you fancy doing something daft involving serious mountains then he's your man.

I am typing this on a keyboard in Punta Arenas, Chile, and I am hoping to be home on Saturday - a week ahead of schedule. Previous blogs were done with a tiny pointer, letter by letter, on a PDA. This computer, the bath, the loo that flushes - all have a special luxury status for me, which I know will soon disappear as I go back to taking things for granted again.

One thing I did discover today and which I will always treasure, is the fantastic support so many of you have shown by donating to Marie Curie and CINI, and by leaving messages on the blog and emailing me privately. The second revised fundraising target has been smashed and the donations now total £366,514.

I have received over 1000 emails since summit day and I will do my best to answer them all when I get back to Britain. I'm particularly impressed with the messages that have been left on the blog by friends - many of whom have been using this method of communication for the very first time! It's great for me and the charities to see such public support.

There is a lot of criticism of Parliament and the City at the moment - some of which is fully justified - but there is another side to the story here. Jan Royal, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lords has sent me the most generous messages of support and concern, as has the Lord Speaker. Parliamentarians of all parties and none have rallied to support these charities - including every living former Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister, David Cameron, had three attempts at putting a kind message of encouragement on my website prior to summit day. Unknown to me it was being rejected automatically by the server. It turns out that it was the inclusion of the word 'God' in 'Godspeed' that triggered the anti-spamming software.

The Chancellor has sent me a note enclosing a donation, with comment that he was not sure he should be supporting me in my insane enterprise. I have replied indicating that I was supporting him with his, and that reward does not come without risk. Competitors and colleagues in the City have been hugely generous, as have senior figures in the regulatory institutions. The United Kingdom is a great country, and when it comes to charity the things that divide us all melt away. Thank you.

Michael

The incredible view from the top of the bottom of the world!


Susan ForsythThursday 06 January 2011 at 20:54Reply #89

What an amazing journey - we are all so proud of Michael and what he has raised for two very special charities. We thank God that he has returned safely and that he had such a fantastic weather window for his entire trip.

I must thank everyone who helped with the organisation, especially his guide David Hamilton and John Hayes who set up the Website and Blog and for monitoring it throughout Michael's expedition. An amazing feat getting all the blogs and photos Michael sent from the satellite phone onto the website for people to see and to respond to. Without this no one could have followed this incredible adventure.

Thank you also for all the countless messages and calls from friends and family who have supported me and the children since Boxing Day. All very much appreciated.

Dave HewittThursday 06 January 2011 at 23:49Reply #90

Fine achievement – well done.

dominic and valdaFriday 07 January 2011 at 08:12Reply #91

fantastic news that you are safe and that you have completed your epic journey. we have been quietly worried and have prayed for your safe return. many congratulations and very well done. looking forward to seeing you soon. much love, Dominic and Valda

campbell gordonFriday 07 January 2011 at 09:23Reply #92

Congratulations Michael - you have even returned safely! So to add to your technological brilliance, your physical and mental strength in reaching the summit of Vinson, you have got away unlike Capt Scott!
A fantastic achievement - looking forward to seeing you in London.

Edward GarnierFriday 07 January 2011 at 09:35Reply #93

Michael: What an amzing achievement and all carried out with what looks like a complete lack of fuss - up the hill and back again before tea and that's that. Gritty stuff. Many, many congratulations. Not sure I am about to do the same even though the snow is falling thick and fast on the top of this Leicestershire hill. Have a good sleep on the flight home - you deserve it - and welcome back.
Best wishes
Edward

Donald FreelandFriday 07 January 2011 at 09:37Reply #94

Michael,
Having at last mastered the art of blogging may I add my congratulations and admiration for a wonderful achievement. You are truly an inspiration to us all.Hope you can have a few days off with your family when you get home.
Donald

Matt RidleyFriday 07 January 2011 at 12:41Reply #95

Catching up with emails after tackling the great challenge of Heathrow terminal Five, I find that Michael has done it. A great, great achievement, done with characteristic no-nonsense efficiency and good humour against terrifying elemental forces. Heartfelt congratulations!!

Matt

AdamFriday 07 January 2011 at 14:36Reply #96

Michael - hearty congratulations on an epic expedition. From the caption under the photo on the BBC website "Tory peer conquers Antarctic peak" you are so well insulated that I thought it might have been Tom Strathclyde... Safe home, and every best wish for 2011.

Malcolm LamontFriday 07 January 2011 at 16:35Reply #97

Very many congratulations. A terrific achievement and what a fantastic sum raised for charity.

Jan RoyallFriday 07 January 2011 at 22:23Reply #98

Bravo. Welcome home. When I see you sitting across the chamber next week it will be difficult to believe that it really was you in the pictures and on the blog. Perhaps you should keep the beard for a while .....
Jan

Chris & Louise SmythSunday 09 January 2011 at 16:56Reply #100

Congratulations on a fantastic achievement Michael - well done. So glad you're safe and now on your way back!
With very best wishes
Chris & Louise

David NishSunday 09 January 2011 at 19:31Reply #101

Michael

Very well done - an inspiring adventure . Your blogs have been fascinating . Look forward to hearing more of the story when you get back

Michael ForsythWednesday 05 January 2011 at 14:37Post #14 Reply

Subject: An audio message

Use these controls to play my audio message from close to the summit of Mount Vinson...

Finding plug-in...

In case of difficulty, click here to download and install the latest Windows Media Player. Alternatively, if your usual browser does not have the necessary plug-ins, please try using Microsoft Internet Explorer instead.

Using the sat phone to record my message from Mount Vinson


Janet ChesneyWednesday 05 January 2011 at 15:39Reply #76

congratulations on a fantastic achievment.......safe journey home

Robin JarvisWednesday 05 January 2011 at 20:37Reply #80

Well done Michael, proud of you and delighted for you. A stirling effort in preparing, fundraising and climbing. Have a safe descent and journey North, Rob.

Claire MarvinThursday 06 January 2011 at 00:08Reply #82

I've been following your journey Michael & I feel that I know you despite us never having met. I have been party to your meetings with David, your training with Rob and your climb. What a tremendous achievement. Well done & a safe, seamless (!?) journey home. Claire (David's partner).

David CanziniThursday 06 January 2011 at 08:54Reply #83

Congratulations on a quite stupendeous achievement.Safe home
David

Helene HaymanThursday 06 January 2011 at 10:47Reply #84

Congratulations Michael on your spectacular achievement. It has been fascinating (and slightly scary) following your progress and I was delighted to learn that you are now on the return leg of your amazing journey.

I hope that we can have a glass of champagne when you return to Westminster to celebrate your extraordinary achievement.

David OdlingThursday 06 January 2011 at 12:39Reply #85

A breathtaking achievement, Michael - you must be thrilled (and Susan equally relieved)!! Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for a safe journey back. David O.

Thomas StrathclydeThursday 06 January 2011 at 14:34Reply #86

Michael - magnificent news! All of us in the Lords have been cheering you on, and the Chief Whip is particularly delighted you'll be back so soon to respond to some inportant 2 line Whips. Good luck with clearing up all your detritus and please pass on your fitness tips. Thomas

Charlie and HugoThursday 06 January 2011 at 15:57Reply #87

Grandpa,
Hugo and I are very proud grandchildren with your big achievement. Well done!!! xxx

An Aussie followerThursday 06 January 2011 at 19:32Reply #88

Congratulations on your blog and completed summit. I've been following your blog from down-under. Hope the penguins stayed in the distance.
Prayers for a safe return.

Michael ForsythWednesday 5th January 2011 at 04:48Post #13 Reply

Subject: Summit reached

Rather than rest at High Camp I decided to make a summit bid yesterday morning as the weather was perfect - with light wind and bright sunshine.

The cold is still intense and it is essential to wear goggles and a face mask to protect from frostbite. I was apprehensive, as I had not slept well and had not acclimatised fully. But it was the right call, as we enjoyed a perfect day on the mountain and reached the summit at 5.00pm local time (8.00pm GMT). It was very hard work and at one point I thought I might have to turn back as I fought to breathe in the thin, cold air.

Vinson is a spectacular mountain with a tiny summit and astonishing views of Antarctica. The summit ridge is ice-covered and very narrow with big drops on either side.

Getting there had involved a lot of hard work and training. Oddly, my first thoughts were about getting down again safely with all my digits intact. We have been so lucky with the weather and reached the summit in an amazing five days.

Michael

Summit joy


James BarrWednesday 05 January 2011 at 08:30Reply #49

Great photo! Congratulations on reaching the summit.

Dermott HayesWednesday 05 January 2011 at 08:38Reply #50

Michael - am so happy for you and very proud of your achievement. Incredible that you have made it so quickly and without too much difficulty. Have a safe trip down and when you get back to camp give yourself a great big pat on the back.
Dermott

Nigel EvansWednesday 05 January 2011 at 08:45Reply #51

Michael, many congratulations. I am so full of admiration and sneaking jealousy.....the IPU has never advertised a fact finding to Vinson.....wow- what spectacular photos....look forward to welcoming you back to the relative warmth of the British winter. Happy New Year, and many congrats once again, Nigel

Peter & LouiseWednesday 05 January 2011 at 08:50Reply #52

Congratulations Michael. Excellent accomplishment.
Peter & Louise

HenriettaWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:13Reply #53

Oh WOW - well done - you really are brilliant!

Gerald MaloneWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:15Reply #54

Michael, congratulations. A triumph for you and your charity. Bien fait! G

CharlesWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:25Reply #55

Michael... I don't know what to say other than 'congratulations'. What an achievement.

Jimmy and FionaWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:27Reply #56

Michael,

A fantastic achievement, very well done. Home safe.

Jimmy and Fiona

Sally FergusonWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:27Reply #57

CONGRATULATIONS Michael! We're all cheering your success here at Marie Curie! best wishes for a safe descent.
Sally and the team at Marie Curie

Bert WiegmanWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:36Reply #58

Michael, wonderful achievement well done indeed. Get back safe. Bert

John AstleWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:37Reply #59

Michael -
Well done, a splendid achievement!! Have a safe journey back.
John.

Mum & DadWednesday 05 January 2011 at 09:50Reply #60

Well done Michael! Mum is over the moon but now worring about you getting down. We are so pleased for you. Please keep safe and see you soon. Love Mum & Dad

KatieWednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:34Reply #61

Well done Daddy!!
I cannot believe how quickly you reached the top! We are all so proud of you! Get down safely xxxx

Philip and KarenWednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:38Reply #62

Fantastic - well done, Michael. Be safe - Ben Venue awaits.

Graham HuttonWednesday 05 January 2011 at 10:44Reply #63

Well done, Michael. It has been very exciting following your adventures and the photograph from the summit is stunning. Have a safe return. Graham.

Rowan BraithwaiteWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:06Reply #64

Well done Michael. A very impressive achievement to raise so much for such worthy charities. Safe home.

SarahWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:12Reply #65

So proud of you Daddy! Well done, amazing!! Please get home safe xxxx

Odile SlynnWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:22Reply #66

Michael, Fantastic news! Very many congratulations on your achievement. Please come down safely! Odile

david.mitchellWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:28Reply #67

I was always very proud of you when you were an MP.Even more so now. Well done. Safe home.david.

Padma MoorjaniWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:29Reply #68

Michael

Congratulations from all at CINI. It is fantastic news and an incredible achievement. It has been inspiration following your adventure and I am full of admiration. Have a safe journey back.

Best wishes
Padma

David PuttnamWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:46Reply #69

Many, many congratulations Michael on a remarkable achievement.
Now just get down, and home safely.
All the best
David

Murdo & Emma FraserWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:49Reply #70

Congratulations Michael, very well done on making it to the top

David CameronWednesday 05 January 2011 at 11:57Reply #71

Michael - What a superb achievement! Many congratulations. Best wishes for a smooth and safe descent. David

Nicholas,Clare,Charlie and HugoWednesday 05 January 2011 at 13:29Reply #72

Well done Dad So Proud of you!!!

Liz SmithWednesday 05 January 2011 at 13:56Reply #73

Many congratulations Michael. It looks fantastic on the top and it makes me very jealous!
I look forward to hearing more about it when you return.

Liz

PatriciaWednesday 05 January 2011 at 14:17Reply #74

Michael
Many Congratulations.! Great picture and smile.
Hope weather stays good for safe return.
Take care
Patricia and Sue x

Peter ForsythWednesday 05 January 2011 at 14:30Reply #75

The great big smile on your face says it all. Congratulations.

David & JillWednesday 05 January 2011 at 18:04Reply #77

Michael

Congratulations. I bet you feel fantastic. Keep safe all the way home.

David and Jill

Raymond and Sara Johnstone and HeatherWednesday 05 January 2011 at 18:27Reply #78

Dear Michael - Many many congratulations on achieving the Vinson Summit. What a wonderful achievement. We have followed your progress through your blogs and photos with the greatest interest and much delight. It added a new dimension making our problems in arctic Edinburgh humdrum and, now we are basking in 90 degree Capetown, we feel almost guilty.
Many thanks for shariing your experience so effectvely

Raymond Sara and Heather

Yvonne & Joe NicolWednesday 05 January 2011 at 18:33Reply #79

Well done Michael. A fantastic achievement! Take care on the way back and we look forward to seeing you soon.

KarenWednesday 05 January 2011 at 21:26Reply #81

Congratulations - What a great acheivement! Safe return home x

Mark SeymourSaturday 08 January 2011 at 08:47Reply #99

A very belated message of congratulations. What an achievement. We are all in awe.

Have a safe and uneventful journey home

Spoke to Susan earlier in the week and she seemed in good spirits

Michael ForsythTuesday 4th January 2011 at 04:14Post #10 Reply

Subject: Ascent to High Camp

Today is the day I have worried about for weeks. It involves just over 3,000 ft of exposed climbing to the High Camp, from which our summit bid will be made. My pack is very heavy and I leave camp wondering if I can manage the six hours of climbing while carrying it as we ascend to 12,400 ft. There is about 3,600 ft of fixed rope covering the hardest section so if I do slip I will not end up at the bottom of the mountain.

As it turns out, it is not too bad - and David very kindly offers to carry my blogging equipment and sat phone. The ascent is arduous, however, and I am now quite glad that Dermott Hayes has tortured me in the gym for the past nine months with his squats and planks and anaerobic exercises. The technique is to build a rhythm... moving one crampon at a time and co-ordinating deep breaths.

By the time we get to the top I am absolutely exhausted. Dominic Jude - flying a union flag from his pack - arrives over the top with his splendid gang and guide Victor, and they administer hot tea. How organised! Dominic has very kindly lent me a sweat buff which I had not anticipated needing. There was great amusement that it is covered in peace campaigner slogans. I can't think why!

Throughout the past five hours I have been baking hot, but with an hour further to go a wind appears from nowhere and I am soon chilled to the bone. With hindsight I should have put on more clothing but I was so tired and with the camp only an hour further that I risked it. When I got to camp I was shivering and it took plenty of soup and tea, and all my down clothes and sleeping bag, to restore my core body temperature. A valuable lesson has been learned.

I have not said much about food - which is the best I have ever had on any high mountain. Tonight - chicken soup followed by spaghetti bolognaise. Last night chicken curry with mashed potatoes. All organised by David and achieved by melting snow to make hot water - which is added to surprisingly good powdered meals. He is constantly pressing me to have another hot drink, as liquid intake is crucial in avoiding altitude sickness. Tomorrow we have the chance of a summit bid, depending on the weather and how fit I feel.

Michael

1. Shattered at top of the steepest section

2. Wishing I could see the top


Jackson CarlawTuesday 04 January 2011 at 08:23Reply #40

Bravo Michael - mind you it is now impossible, for those of us who continue so to do, to convincingly argue that you are not mad after all. But with such style! All best wishes to you in the hours ahead.

Dermott HayesTuesday 04 January 2011 at 08:41Reply #41

It's getting very close now Michael. I am so impressed with your progress and your physical state seems fantastic. You are very much on top of things - pardon the pun.
I'm glad you can see the merit of the gym work we did, you certainly were not too complimentary at the time..... I will expect to see you back in the gym on your return, or maybe not.
Best of British luck for the last push. Make us all proud.
Dermott

John AstleTuesday 04 January 2011 at 09:54Reply #42

Well done Michael, keep up the good work!

Liz and I are enjoying reading your blog and learning a lot about Antartica from it. It sounds tough but sure you are doing well and will get a huge amount from the experience yourself. Best of luck with the final push to the top!

Best wishes from the comfort of my arm chair,
John Astle.

CharlesTuesday 04 January 2011 at 10:17Reply #43

Michael....I expected your clinb to be hard but your fantastic updates show that it is far far harder than I would have ever imagined. What an achievement it will be. (I also now fully understand why Susan was cautious about it all when we talked at the St Andrew's Night dinner on 2nd December!). Good luck on the final stage.

HenriettaTuesday 04 January 2011 at 10:29Reply #44

Hmmm - not the most flattering photograph...however I remain uber-impressed! Keep going, my friend - contrary to popular belief, you are brilliant!

Gerald MaloneTuesday 04 January 2011 at 13:11Reply #45

Michael, admiration and shame overwhelm in equal measure. Clearly it has taken months of dedicated - and painful -preparatory effort to undertake what is, essentially, a necessarily brief soujourn on one of the most glorious places on earth. So, the admiration is for you and the shame is for this self confessed couch potato. The photos exude your enthusiasm. Please keep them coming. Regards, G

Odile Slynn CINI UkTuesday 04 January 2011 at 17:47Reply #46

Read your blog as I was crossing under the Channel this afternoon in the comfort of my car...certainly easier and safer than your climb!Good luck and bon courage to the top, Michael. Hope you have kept some champagne to celebrate when you get there?!Odile Slynn CINI UK

David JohnstonTuesday 04 January 2011 at 17:48Reply #47

Michael

Well impressed with your progress so far - you must have worked really hard in the gym. Glad that the food is better than our previous trips. Good luck with your summit bid I will be thinking about you. Looking forward to hearing the whole story when you get home.

David & Jill

Peter ForsythTuesday 04 January 2011 at 19:52Reply #48

Well done Michael. I will have to stop complaining about the four flights of stairs I have to ascend every day on my offshore platform in the Caspian Sea. Good luck with the weather tomorrow, and stay safe.

Michael ForsythSunday 2nd January 2011 at 20:43Post #9 Reply

Subject: To Low Camp

Today we set off from the relative comfort of Base Camp for Low Camp, which is located at the head of the glacier in an amphitheatre of high mountains. A lot of clothing, gear, food, etc., is needed for a summit attempt, so David and I were pulling sledges as well as carrying our packs. The glacier has deep crevasses and is constantly moving, so we were roped together in case a sledge or one of us fell through the surface snow covering. Although the air is very cold there is not a cloud in the sky and the sun beat down mercilessly all day - burning my skin despite the application of copious quantities of protective cream and block.

We try to set a vigorous pace, but this is very hard work and the sledges seem - rather like airport trolleys - to have minds of their own. I confess I was more than a little relieved to see Low Camp ahead after 4.5 hours of relentless effort.

We had dragged the sledges 5.5 miles through 2,150 feet of ascent. That doesn't sound much but I assure you it was not easy. Although today's weather is good, this camp is subject to prolonged and severe storms, and walls of snow blocks have to be constructed to prevent tents being shredded by the wind or crushed under the weight of spindrift snow.

At 9,000 ft I am beginning to feel the effects of altitude which - as I have explained before - are more severe here because the atmosphere is at its thinnest at the poles. We will need to decide whether to have a rest day tomorrow or press on to High Camp at 12,400 ft. From there we would make a summit bid after resting to acclimatise. Low Camp is in the shade from about 3.00am to 11.30am, so it is not possible to set off until afternoon as temperatures drop spectacularly - by 25 degrees or more - when the sun is behind a mountain. Climbing during periods of shade greatly increases the risk of frostbite.

The route to High Camp is the most difficult part of the climb and involves 3,350 ft of ascent over rock and blue ice. We will not be able to use sledges here so everything will be on our backs. We will decide tomorrow whether to tackle it now or rest, and will stay in our sleeping bags till late morning awaiting the heat of the polar summer sun.

Michael

Pulling the sledges


Cattie AndersonSunday 02 January 2011 at 21:40Reply #32

Happy New Year Michael - it all looks truly amazing and I'm more than a little envious (though not about pulling the sledge - what, no porters?) Good luck for the summit.

Arthur ForsythMonday 03 January 2011 at 11:54Reply #34

Happy New year
Following your progress have a safe journey
Lesley & Arthur

Richard HillMonday 03 January 2011 at 17:10Reply #35

Michael, Happy New Year to you. Reading your updates with fascination and great interest. It must be sensational to see such a pristine and unexplored wilderness first-hand. Glad to hear you are now on the push to the top, very best of luck and may the weather stay fair. Look forward to seeing your summit photos. Richard

Bernard JenkinMonday 03 January 2011 at 19:17Reply #36


Well done Michael. We are all following your efforts with great admiration and respect. Remember that altitude can affect judgement - we want you back in one (unfrozen!) piece! So take good care!
Yrs ever
Bernard



Sue CloughMonday 03 January 2011 at 19:55Reply #37

Sounds as if everything is going well. Photos look fantastic and very clear. Enjoying reading your diary, good luck for the next few days.

John ForsythMonday 03 January 2011 at 20:10Reply #38

Hi Michael,

Have been watching your progress. Very proud of you. Look forward to seeing you on your return.

Keep Safe,

Happy New Year,

Mum and Dad
xxxx

David CameronMonday 03 January 2011 at 21:01Reply #39

Michael -

What an inspiring adventure you have embarked on. It is not every day that a member of the House of Lords sets off to climb the highest peak in Antarctica! As you prepare for the next stage, the ascent to High Camp, we are all willing you on from home. Good luck, Godspeed and a happy New Year from Samantha and me.

David Cameron







Michael ForsythSaturday 1st January 2011 at 06:43Post #8 Reply

Subject: Happy New Year from Vinson base camp

Happy New Year from Vinson base camp. The bad weather has finally abated, and the forecast is very good for the next few days. I arrived at base camp in a small Twin Otter with skis yesterday morning after a spectacular flight over a majestic wilderness with many unclimbed peaks. It is difficult to convey how beautiful this landscape is - but it brought tears to my eyes to see it and to reflect on how lucky I was to be here.

After sorting out my tent David Hamilton and I set off to tackle a 2800-metre peak above camp to help me acclimatise to the altitude - which is exaggerated here because of the thinness of the atmosphere at the poles. We did the first section on skis with skins on them, and then changed to crampons for the steeper ice. Although it was well below freezing, the absence of wind and the very strong sun made it surprisingly hot, and I was forced to strip off my layers and wear a sun hat! This was not in the script.

The view from the top was stunning. The unpolluted still, cold air enables you to see for very long distances, with the vast expanse of Antarctica spread out below, and Vinson and the next three highest peaks standing like sentinels before us. I was also able to trace our precise route up the mountain. Tomorrow we will set off rather late (on account of the New Year celebrations) to establish our Low Camp. It is a Hogmanay I will never forget, celebrated in bright sunshine at -20 degrees. I hate warm champagne but this morning it was freezing in my glass as fast as I could drink it.

Thanks so much to everyone who has left messages on the blog and sent emails, etc. It is really appreciated, but for technical reasons I cannot reply from the mountain. Let's hope 2011 is a good year and brings peace and prosperity.

Michael

1. Climbing a 2800-metre mountain near base camp to help with acclimatisation (Vinson's peak can be seen in the background)

2. Wilderness: the view from the summit of the 2800-metre peak

3. Twin Otter leaving after the drop-off below base camp


David PSaturday 01 January 2011 at 11:21Reply #29

Dear Michael,
Happy New Year. Reading your posts I'm not sure if they leave me more awed or envious! What you are taking on is astounding, and leaves me ruefully forced to acknowledge the fact that I'll never tread in your footsteps. It's not so much a question of my hitting seventy in February, it's coming to terms with the fact that - since my car crash in Italy in August - I'll never have a left arm that can deal with the type of challenges I used to revel in. I think that's added a very particular fascination to what you've had to say. It also delights me to know that yours will be a voice to add to the growing expertise we're developing within the House of Lords regarding Climate Change - it's causes and it's likely impacts. You'll be interested to know that while you've been away we gave over the Chamber on a Friday afternoon to 280 6th Formers, from all over the country, to debate the future of the House of Lords. Having discussed all four options for three hours they voted - by a margin of 2 to 1- in favour of an 'all appointed' House - the principle reasons being 'freedom from the Whip' and most importantly, 'expertise' - with Climate Change cited over and over again as the issue of most concern to them. I'm really proud to be your colleague - as I see it you are doing this for all of us in the sense of bringing back a report from the 'front line' - for that alone very many thanks.
David

Edward GarnierSaturday 01 January 2011 at 13:25Reply #30

Michael: You make us look so idle sitting back here in the United Kingdom groaning at the thought of a walk in the snow or the rain whilst you are climbing Mount Vinson - and I will never complain of the cold in my house in Leicestershire again. Your efforts are truly inspirational and I wish you every success on your way to the summit and back. What a fantastic way to see in the New Year.
Best wishes,
Edward Garnier

David JohnstonSaturday 01 January 2011 at 15:36Reply #31

Michael

Your photos and updates are fantastic. Great to hear that things seem to be going so well. I know that you have the will and determination to complete the climb. Good luck with the weather and have a really great start to the new year.

David

RaymondSunday 02 January 2011 at 22:42Reply #33

Hi M,
Your updates are amazing and have become essential reading for those of us on holiday!
I read in 'Scotland on Sunday' that you said being in Government had "dehumanised" you. Please tell me this isn't what you have in mind for all ex-Ministers - and that you don't expect your former Ministers to lead by example!! Take care.
Raymond

Michael ForsythFriday 31st December 2010 at 21:58Post #7 Reply

Subject: Well grounded!

Being stuck at camp waiting for a weather window has some advantages. The greatest is getting time to meet some of the people who come here from every corner of the globe. There are around 100 souls, of whom just under half are staff who keep the whole complex operation running superbly. They are cheerful, happy and unbelievably efficient.

Fran Otio is a Yorkshire lady who has been coming here since 1997. Within minutes of meeting her you feel you have known her for years. Nothing is too much trouble. She even managed to produce a proper pot of tea today as a special treat. She is coming to cook for us at base camp and has offered to sleep with my wet wipes to keep them from feezing when I am up the mountain. How often do you get an offer like that!

I guess I am probably the oldest person here, and the youngsters have some breathtaking achievements to relate. John Strange from California holds the record for being the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits at age 17. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains in each continent, of which Vinson is one and Everest is the most challenging. He is here to fly to the South Pole and is planning to visit the North Pole after that. When I asked him what his parents thought about this he replied that they were very supportive as they had both done the Seven Summits and that the family were called 'Strange' with good reason! There is a successful CEO of a large European retailer, who has come to climb Vinson and perhaps one of the many unclimbed lesser peaks as a personal challenge. There's a Russian entrepreneur who enjoys adventure travel and wants to fly to the South Pole to see-in the New Year.

Then there are the serious scientists from mainly American universities, as well as a few itinerant members of the British Antarctic Survey. One of them is doing seismic research to try to establish how quickly the polar ice cap is melting. Another is using GPS technology to understand the movement of glaciers and predict the effect of temperature increases on glacier behaviour. The view among the scientists is unanimous that global warming is a real challenge and that the expiry of the Antarctic Treaty in a few years' time is a moment of danger for those who want to protect this unspoilt wilderness. The continent is rich in minerals and has extensive coal and oil deposits.

The guides include some of the world's best mountaineers. It was a particular pleasure for me to meet Victor Saunders, who is of my generation and although a Scot lives in North London. He travelled up Ben Nevis at the weekends in the eighties and established some of the hardest climbs on the mountain - including Shield Direct, which was the first route on Ben Nevis to be given grade 7 status (which just means it's impossible for mere mortals).

By one of those extraordinary coincidences Dominic Jude, who I met at a reception for CINI in the House of Lords, is here to climb Vinson and will be tackling Everest next spring as he tries to complete the Seven Summits. He is part of a group climbing the mountain at the same time as me. Included in the party is a tough young Australian soldier training to be a medic. He is just back from Afghanistan and his accounts of IEDs, suicide bombers and the task out there are humbling. One alarming thing is his view that the British troops are far less well-protected against IEDs in their Landrovers than the Australians in their vehicles, and that lives are being lost as a result.

Michael

The view from my tent


CharlesFriday 31 December 2010 at 10:23Reply #25

Michael....Thank you for taking the time to write your updates. They are fascinating and I look forward to them....together with the photos. It seems you are about 12 hours ahead of UK in time and given that the first stage of your journey was flying west to South America I had not expected that. However, on thinking about it, moving ahead in time will have happened easily when you are so near to the pole. So, although we have just under 14 hours to go here, you are there already....Happy New Year!

Ed LlewellynFriday 31 December 2010 at 18:16Reply #27

Michael - Am really enjoying your posts from the far end of the world - fascinating and evocative. Fingers crossed that a weather window opens up. Good luck, and happy New Year! Ed

Peter ForsythFriday 31 December 2010 at 22:07Reply #28

View looks fantastic. Just wanted to wish you luck with the weather and of course a Happy New Year.

Michael ForsythFriday 31st December 2010 at 00:45Post #6 Reply

Subject: First night under canvas

The weather has closed in at Union Glacier and the mercury has plummeted. I am writing this just after midnight in my tent, which is bracingly cold. I have had to bring my boots into my sleeping bag to prevent them from freezing. Although it is very bright outside, the low sun is behind a mountain and the temperature has dropped dramatically. I have a splitting headache which I suspect is due to dehydration and I must drink more water. All the water has to be produced by melting snow. I am as warm as toast in my sleeping bag, however, which is good for temperatures down to -50C and is made by a British company - PHD - which is at the forefront of down clothing technology. I researched long and hard before deciding what to buy, and this firm is world class.

A word on the delicate subject of bodily functions in a cold climate. Also sharing my sleeping bag is a pee bottle as I do not want to be faced with the problem of a frozen block of urine at breakfast. As I have explained in previous postings all solid human waste must be removed for disposal in Chile. It is also absolutely forbidden to just go for a pee in the snow, and the urine has to be collected. Hence the bottle.

Rob Jarvis, a highly experienced guide and mountaineer, says in the blog that patience is essential for mountaineering in the Antarctic. So I will just have to wait here in my tent until a window opens to allow a safe flight to the Vinson Massif.

Michael

Camp at Union Glacier


Gerald MaloneThursday 30 December 2010 at 10:13Reply #19

Michael, I am following your progress from a wimpishly slushy Scottish Borders in the company of G Warner, who now feels less hard done by as we turn the heating on and off to conserve heating oil (in short supply in coalition Britain). I have told him of your "disposal" regime and instituted same here pending his return to Glasgow. Shall keep watching for that "window" to open. G

Dermott HayesThursday 30 December 2010 at 10:15Reply #20

Michael - really enjoying the posts. The fact that you are better with words than most of us helps to give such an exact picture of where you are and just what you are experiencing. How you are actually managing to write such articulate posts in extreme conditions is beyond me.
Like your friend says 'be patient' and your time will come. Good luck with the acclimatisation. Keep drinking!!!
Dermott

Stanley JohnsonThursday 30 December 2010 at 11:40Reply #21

Michael, wonderful to read your reports. Please keep them coming. I wish you the best of luck on the climb and for 2011. Stanley (Johnson)

Karen GaskellThursday 30 December 2010 at 12:33Reply #22

Glad the sleeping bag is warm and pee bottle handy. I'm starting a daily prayer round for you at St Mary's so I'll keep them up-to-date with progress. Today's prayer is for clear weather so you can fly on....

Ed FeulnerThursday 30 December 2010 at 13:07Reply #23

Dear Michael, Linda and I are sitting in our Delaware beach cottage complaining of the 26" of snow we received up and down the East Coast of the US over the last few days. At least we were complaining until I showed her your amazing pictures and blog posts!

Good luck, my friend! You have admirers on this side of the pond who are cheering for you, too! We will be following you day by day...

Happy 2011! Onward! Ed

PatriciaThursday 30 December 2010 at 16:05Reply #24

Michael . We are avidly following your postings and are spellbound by your descriptive accounts. Antartica sounds and looks very real to us here in thawing Llantrisant.
Good Luck to you and David on your Vinson ascent.
Keep safe.
Love Patricia and Sue x

Jim DowningFriday 31 December 2010 at 16:01Reply #26

It's New Year's eve in the UK and soon to be in the US. I am not sure what time it is at Union Glacier as a quick look at Antarctica time zones shows five time zones and none that I can find for Union Glacier. When you look back on your most memorable New Year's eves I am sure none will compare with your time at Union Glacier. I would be surprised if you have shared a previous New Years with such an intrepid group of explorers, scientists and people with purpose. The prospects of a warm cup of Yorkshire tea in place of the ceremonial glass of champagne and going to bed with your pee bottle and hiking boots will make the evening even more memorable. Tomorrow is a new day and a new year and what a way to start. Fantastic. Jim

Michael ForsythThursday 30th December 2010 at 01:10Post #5 Reply

Subject: Narnia

It is an odd experience sitting in the hold of a cargo plane for 4.5 hours unable to see out. When the landing came at the Union Glacier it seemed to last forever as the huge aircraft slithered and bounced down the blue ice runway before finally coming to a halt. I was very keen to disembark and blundered out into the blinding white light of a beautiful Antarctic day to a stunning panorama of ice-clad mountains. It is a vista I will never forget - like emerging from the wardrobe into Narnia.

When we arrived the temperature was a very warm -9C - better than the -15C I left in Aberfoyle. I was whisked off to lunch at Union Glacier camp - turkey soup (there is no escaping it anywhere it seems at this time of year) and stew with fresh vegetables and potatoes. The camp is so well managed by a very friendly and efficient team. Despite its comforts I am keen to fly on to the Branscomb Glacier to reach base camp for Mount Vinson and begin the acclimatisation and climb. The Twin Otter is ready to fly, but the weather has now closed-in, threatening my chances. I must just wait for a weather window.

Michael

Yes it's me - with the Russian cargo plane on the blue ice runway in Antarctica


Michael ForsythTuesday 28 December 2010 at 19:17Post #4 Reply

Subject: Ready for takeoff

Arrived in Punta Arenas after 37 hours travelling with all my gear intact. Several people were not so lucky and are desperately trying to locate their luggage before takeoff. This morning was spent getting a briefing on the obligations and regulations arising from the Antarctic Treaty which can be summed up as... leave only footprints behind and take nothing but photographs and memories. The logistics involved in getting there and sustaining an expedition are extraordinary, and Antarctic Logistics is an impressive outfit. The challenges are enormous: extreme conditions, vast distances and an unforgiving environment.

We fly tomorrow at 6.00am in an Ilyushin 76TD. It's a Russian cargo plane designed to land on the Russian tundra. Our runway will be a strip of natural blue ice on the splendidly named Union Glacier. On board will be almost 40 people - all with differing reasons for making this journey. Some are aiming to ski or trek to the South Pole, others are hoping to climb Antarctica's highest volcano, and 16 are just flying to the South Pole for the trip of a lifetime. The plane has to carry all its fuel for the return journey plus the supplies to keep the extensive support operations running.

Next year is the 100th anniversary of Amundsen's expedition to the Pole. He succeeded in November ahead of Scott who arrived disappointed a few weeks later in January 1912. These men could not have imagined a world so changed in a mere century, or the extensive scientific research now carried out in such hostile territory. There is, for example, a matrix covering a huge area of deep holes cut in the ice - at the bottom of which are detectors to count neutrinos bombarding the Earth. This is only one of a number of important projects which help to fulfil the Antarctic Treaty's declared purpose of promoting peace and science.

If the weather is OK I will transfer tomorrow to a Twin Otter aircraft fitted with skis, and fly about 150 miles to land on the Branscomb Glacier near base camp. David Hamilton, my guide, will be there to meet me. Then there are a few days climbing nearby peaks to acclimatise to the altitude. All very exciting.

Michael

Jan RoyallTuesday 28 December 2010 at 23:04Reply #14

I am exhausted just reading about the logistics and the travel so far. Thank you for sharing your intrepid journey. I look forward to seeing the photographs and, I hope, to hearing about some of your memories. May your footsteps be firm. Good luck. Jan

Lucy sargentWednesday 29 December 2010 at 11:27Reply #15

Loved reading your last post and imagining the ice runway and cargo plane filled with people on an amazing adventure. It is very rainy and dull in London! Thank you for your HUGE adventure on behalf of Marie Curie! So glad that you spoke to Sir Ran before you left. Look forward to your next blog. Keep safe. Good luck from all the team at MCCC. Lucy

CharlesWednesday 29 December 2010 at 11:29Reply #16

Michael....Great to hear that your gear got through to Punta Arenas ok. You must be relieved about that. Now you're close but I don't suppose there's time for a cast on the Rio Grande! Good luck with the next stage.

KatieWednesday 29 December 2010 at 13:44Reply #17

Daddy
I just wanted to wish you lots of luck. We are all cheering you on at home and are immensely proud of you!
Stay safe.
x

Julian OakleyWednesday 29 December 2010 at 17:54Reply #18

Now that we have won the Ashes, I feel that is an excellent omen for the next part of your trip. If the climbing is half as exciting as the travel it will be an incredible journey.

Julian

Michael ForsythSunday 26th December 2010 at 12:35Post #3 Reply

Subject: The adventure begins

It is Boxing Day and I am setting off for Antarctica with mixed feelings. Guilt at leaving the family at Christmas, coupled with anxiety and excitement at the prospect of having the chance to climb Mount Vinson. My overwhelming concern today, however, is whether British Airways and Lan can get me to Punta Arenas in Chile via Madrid and Santiago on time and without losing my luggage. Replacing the specialist clothing and equipment would be impossible and if I am not there on schedule for the flight to Antarctica on the Russian cargo plane with all my gear, then it will leave without me and a year's training and considerable personal expense will have been for nothing. Not only that but I will have let down all my generous supporters.

I have built in a day's grace, as departure is planned for 29 December and I am due to arrive on the 27th at Punta Arenas... but it's tight. Going earlier and missing Christmas was not an option. I am limited to 25 kilos of luggage, which is not a lot if it includes clothing and climbing equipment. On the other hand I will need to carry it all, so I have had to opt for being a bit smellier in the tent - with fewer changes of clothes. Sorry David.

Everything has to be checked before leaving to ensure it is clean and free from soil or anything which could introduce seeds, pests or diseases to Antarctica. All activities are governed by the Antarctic Treaty, and quite rightly there are strict rules to protect the pristine environment. One rather worrying part of this is the requirement to leave nothing behind - including solid human waste. This is one aspect to the trip which - whilst I fully endorse the policy - has not filled me with enthusiasm. The flight takes 4.5 hours over Tierra Del Fuego and the Drake Passage, crossing the Antarctic circle at 66 degrees south. Here the sun never sets at the austral summer solstice and never rises at the winter one. Further south the days and nights lengthen until, at the South Pole, the sun rises and sets only once a year.

Thank you to everyone who has called and emailed me to wish me well. It is really appreciated - although when Ran Fiennes rang to wish me good luck I did feel a certain nervousness as to what I was taking on! Annabel Goldie on the other hand asked whether, with these weather conditions, I could not just go up Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. I see her point and attach a picture of Ben Lomond across Loch Ard taken from near my home in Scotland, when the temperature fell recently to -15C. Today's forecast for Antarctica was -40C - which is apparently quite warm, as the average annual temperature is -55C and the lowest ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica in July 1983 at -89.2C. Thank goodness I am well-equipped. How the early explorers endured the cold with their tweeds and rudimentary equipment is difficult to comprehend. Now comes the hard part - negotiating Heathrow.

Michael

Ben Lomond across Loch Ard in Scotland, when the temperature fell recently to -15C


David JohnstonMonday 27 December 2010 at 15:35Reply #3

Michael - Good luck with your travel arrangements. We were thinking about you and your trip yesterday while we were up at Monachyle Mhor for Jill's birthday lunch. It is snowing again in Balquhidder but hopefully there is a thaw coming to make the roads better. Will watch for news of your flights and looking forward to hearing all about it when you return.
David

Sally FergusonMonday 27 December 2010 at 16:13Reply #4

All the very best of luck for the complicated journey, and we look forward to reading the next message from Antarctica itself!
Sally and the team at Marie Curie

John HayesMonday 27 December 2010 at 16:29Reply #5

Just a note from us both to wish you bon voyage on your fantastic Antarctic adventure. Did you catch Radio 4's 'Excess Baggage Christmas Quiz' just before you left on Christmas Day? One of the questions was "Where is the Vinson Massif the highest mountain?" Thanks to you we were shouting the answer at the radio! We hope you get there without too many airport delays. Good luck and come back safely.
John and Griselda

FraserMonday 27 December 2010 at 17:00Reply #6

Michael
How is progress? Hopefully you have arrived safely along with your luggage in S America. I was thinking about you as I was clearing snow this afternoon at Teasses - it was good to get indoors to the fire and a cup of tea!
Trish joins me in sending our very best wishes for your trip - we look forward to following your blog with great interest. Take care.
Fraser

Padma MoorjaniMonday 27 December 2010 at 18:17Reply #7

It is good to hear from you. We have all been hoping that you have managed to negotiate Heathrow and have been able to start your adventure as scheduled.

On behalf of all the Trustees at CINI, I wish you the best of luck with your trip and look forward to reading your next blog.

With best wishes

Padma Moorjani

Bert WiegmanMonday 27 December 2010 at 22:30Reply #8

Michael, hopefully bad weather and consequent disruption to transatlantic airline schedules will not have hindered your journey to Punta Arenas - or at least not too much. We are all thinking of you here and feeling very inadequate as we contemplate the scale of the project you are embarking upon. We shall follow every step of progress with great attention to detail. Looking forward to hearing that you have arrived in Antarctica safely. Good luck.
Bert

Rob JarvisMonday 27 December 2010 at 22:39Reply #9

Michael - Hope you had a good Christmas and are feeling fit, rested and ready for the big push South. Best wishes with it all and bon chance with the Antarctic weather on Vinson. Remember the most important virtue of the Antarctic mountaineer... patience!
Really hope you have a great experience on the ice and climbing Vinson. It is an extraordinary place! Bon courage.
Rob

Jim DowningTuesday 28 December 2010 at 00:14Reply #10

I am in northern Vermont, currently being battered by a good winter storm. I went for a three hour XC ski today in the mountains with the temperatures around -17C. We covered 7 miles. I have new-found respect (as if any was needed) for what you are doing. Just keep in mind a warm bath and a glass of whiskey are only a few days away and I am sure you will reach the summit with ease. I look forward to charting your progress and hearing of your experiences on your return. All the best Jim & Liz

CharlesTuesday 28 December 2010 at 00:31Reply #11

Michael .... I trust you arrived safely in Punta Arenas with your luggage too. It must be just over 24 hours now till you begin ... and good luck. At the moment you may actually be going to somewhere warmer than Scotland!

Dermott HayesTuesday 28 December 2010 at 10:33Reply #12

Michael - I can say this with confidence that you are 100% more likely to be enjoying the surroundings you are currently in, however inhospitable they may be as opposed to the gym and me asking you to do squats, lunges, press ups and sprints on the bike. Having trained you in the past for other expeditions I am very sure that your stubborness and determination will see you through this particular challenge. I will keep logging on and checking up on you. You are an inspiration to others and long may it continue.
Remember - one step at a time!

HenriettaTuesday 28 December 2010 at 15:16Reply #13

So this is it - countdown to take off. Thinking of you lots and thanking my lucky stars it's not me!! Good luck, put one foot in front of the other and just keep on going. See you when you get back!


Michael ForsythMonday 22nd November 2010 at 01:10Post #2 Reply

Subject: Satellite Communications

I am testing out the satellite communication equipment and computer programs which I am hoping will enable me to send you a live blog on my progress on Mount Vinson. Goodness knows how I will be able to carry it all, let alone use it. I will begin blogging on arrival in Antarctica on December 28th.

John Hayes has done a brilliant job putting together the website http://www.lordforsyth.com and is patiently tutoring me. He has added a splendid facility that enables you to 'fly' over my route - all the way from Scotland. Simply click on the 'Fly-in' link in the graphic at the top of this page.

I cannot lug around a laptop as well as a satellite phone and everything else, so I will have to type with a stylus on a tiny keyboard on the screen of a PDA. I will be practising using gloves and consequently subsequent messages will be brief. Many thanks to everyone for being so generous in supporting Marie Curie and CINI. My target of £250,000 has been blown away and I have set a new one of £350,000. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine getting such fantastic support. Thank you.

Michael

Comms kit and solar charger

IMG_0081


David HamiltonTuesday 23 November 2010 at 16:03Reply #1

I am glad to see that your getting some practice with your communications kit. The ALE crew are busy getting Vinson Base Camp prepared for the season ahead. I look forward to teaming up with you in Antarctica in a few weeks time.

Mark SeymourSunday 19 December 2010 at 12:44Reply #2

Michael

Good luck with the trip and especially with the travel arrangements for getting out there.

Best wishes

Mark

Michael ForsythTuesday 21st September 2010 at 17:11Post #1 Reply

Subject: Welcome to the Vinson Challenge Blog

Preparations are now well advanced for my expedition to climb Mount Vinson – the highest peak in Antarctica. I am so grateful for the generous donations received in support of the Marie Curie Cancer Care and CINI charities. We are already close to my target of £250,000 - which is absolutely fantastic and very humbling.

I plan to be blogging live from Antarctica throughout the challenge - including the ascent of Mount Vinson itself - subject to being able to sort out and carry the technology.

So please add this website to your favourites and return here between 28 December 2010 and 10 January 2011 to read my thoughts live from the ice. Perhaps you'll also be inspired to add your own contributions (just press the Reply link above).

I have promised my wife that this will be my last 'big adventure' - so let's make it count!

Michael Forsyth