Dr. Clare O'Leary became the
first Irish woman to reach the highest point on Earth while Pat became the
first Irishman to summit from both the Nepalese and Tibetan sides. Clare now
attempts to finish the 7 Summits.
veteran expedition leader, Everest climber, author and motivational speaker.
is with Clare attempting to finish the 7 summits for a second time.
December 3rd/4th: Although Punta Arenas is a small city, it is certainly a
busy one and difficulties with accommodation are the norm. We were unable to
get accommodation for five consecutive nights in the one hotel and so had to
move down the road this morning with all our gear in hand. Between our lack of
Spanish and the hustle and bustle of this place, we were very concerned that
John’s luggage would be misdirected. Phone calls to the airport were in vain;
it was impossible to even get anyone to reply. As a result, we decided to go
back out to the airport to see if we would have any more luck. Although it was
reassuring that they could trace the bags, they failed to deliver it last
night as promised. It’s a real heart sink. To make matters worse, today being
Sunday, most places- including the LAN Chile office - are closed. Alex, from
the Russian team, has kindly offered John a down suit if he’s stuck. If we’re
not ready to leave when our flight is ready, its tough luck and $20,450
dollars down the swanny for John’s flight to the Antarctic..
Yesterday we completed our packing and weigh in for the Illuyshin. We should
be just about within the restrictions (with John’s gear hopefully included).
Photo right: Clare sewing sponsors logos
The tradition of a siesta for a number of hours mid afternoon still holds
here; its easy to forget about this and it was for this reason that I ended up
spending a few hours sewing logos for my sponsors, Emirate Computers and Nokia
UAE, on my down gear. Sewing is not my strong point, but I just about managed!
I think the lady in the alterations shop needn’t worry about competition
left: Briefing prior to flight given by Peter Mc Dowell, Antarctic Logistics
This morning we had a briefing at 10am. We have just heard that a flight went
out last night at 10.15pm. This was brilliant news for us. Everyone’s mood has
lifted and there was a buzz in the air. We were given the fine details of how
to keep Antarctica pristine and the ‘wag bags’ that we need to carry for human
waste disposal. We leave nothing on the Antarctic and we have to bring it all
back to Punta Arenas.
Photo right: Multinational
teams ready for Antarctica
The plan from here on is that at 09.30hrs tomorrow we will be phoned regarding
our flight. If the weather conditions allow, we will fly tomorrow. If not, we
will remain on standby – ready to be collected and go to the airport within 30
minutes- until we actually leave. If the weather is really bad, we may be told
to forget if for 12 -16 hours. The same stipulation holds – if you’re not
there for your flight, tough luck. That counts a trip to see the penguins out,
John and Clare at Magellan’s statue
On returning here to our hotel, John was presented with his bags. What a
relief! It really has been a stressful 36 hours for him - waiting and waiting.
Pat takes it
a toe further – kissing Magellan’s foot is believed to mean you will return to
So, we have just our final preparations to do now. If we do get out and are
lucky enough that conditions allow us to get
a Hercules directly in to Vinson Base Camp, we would really be singing.
Patience is the name of the game. If we don’t send an update tomorrow, it will
mean things are going very right for us!
2nd: John arrived safely
yesterday evening but unfortunately arrived minus his luggage, which has been
misplaced somewhere between Madrid and Santiago. We're trying to track it down
today and are preparing to fly down to Antarctica on 5th. The stores here in
Punta Arenas don't sell gear that would be in any way suitable for the Mt
Vinson climb, so fingers crossed his bags turn up to day. In the meantime we
have gone ahead and weighed all our expedition gear, food supplies, climbing
hardware etc ready to send to the airport. The charge for excess luggage is
$60 per kilo so we need to keep within the limit.
the weather on Vinson has been dreadful and the conditions are the worst in 20
years according to those on the mountain at the moment, we are still looking
forward to getting out there. Antarctic Logistics, who run the flight service,
have been extremely concerned about the conditions and have told us that a
number of climbers have abandoned because of problems with frostbite.
Since arriving, we have met up with two good friends of Pat, Alex Abramov, one
of the top Russian climbers and Dave Hamilton from the UK, both of whom will
be on the mountain at the same time. Dave has been waiting for the past 10
days for his flight to go so frustration and boredom are building for him;
lets hope we won't be in the same boat!---------------------------
John Dowd departs
for Punta Arenas.
John called to the mountain lodge this morning to pick up some gear before
departing for Heathrow later this afternoon. We had a quick chat and gave him
a solar panel for Pat to power their satellite phone. He was excited and
couldn’t wait to get his first glimpse of the frozen continent.
We left Sydney this morning and are now en route to Santiago and then on to
Punta Arenas in Chile. It was an early start, yet again. We’ve covered
thousands of miles in the past week and the travelling is gradually tiring us
out. Rest prior to Antarctica will be a priority.
With Kosciuszko in the bag, we are now down to our final summit. This will be
a real test. A frenzied phone call to the shipping agent during our trip to
Aus could give us no further information about our expedition gear for
Antarctica. It was only today, minutes before leaving Sydney airport that we
finally got the good news from our shipping agent – John Bland from Allied
Forwarding; our gear was waiting for us in Punta Arenas. What a relief! John
has been handling our shipments on all our major expeditions and is acutely
aware of the importance of ens uring everything gets to its destination on
time. He has been a tremendous help to us over the past few years.
We boarded our Qantas flight on the first sunny day of our stay in Australia.
The weather had been uncharacteristically wet for the previous week – our
luck! The Aussies were delighted, having been going through an unrelenting
period of drought. We travelled to Auckland first and then on to Santiago
across the international date line; flying back in time we managed to gain 16
veteran expedition leader, Everest climber, author and motivational
To book Pat Falvey on his 'AGAINST THE SKY' LECTURE
TOUR. e-mail us at
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