Former Royal Marine Commando Baz Gray is currently on the first leg of Challenge Antarctica – the first ever solo unsupported and unassisted crossing of Antarctica.
The Royal Marines Charity is proud to be supporting Baz’s mission of successfully crossing Antarctica, coast to coast, from McMurdo Sound to Berkner Island. This will be done solo, without any support whatsoever - such as the use of dogs, kites and resupply.
The SATcase team are very proud to confirm that after 39 days Baz Gray has reached the South Pole. He called his wife Claire from his SATcase to confirm the fantastic news. Well done Baz, a truly amazing achievement in some very harsh and testing weather conditions!
Conditions have been good for Baz as he enters the final stages of his expedition to reach the South Pole solo and unassisted. He is aiming to reach the South Pole later this afternoon on Sunday 6th January and if successful will have reached the South Pole in 39 days. This has been an epic adventure with Antarctica unleashing some of the harshest weather conditions with warning warnings and whiteouts at the start of the challenge and soft snow making pulling his laden pulk extremely hard going. Baz has pushed on and on day 38 has covered 22 nautical miles in 13.5 hours through temperatures down to -25 degrees. As he wakes up on day 39 he has 18 nautical miles to go to reach the South Pole #resilientreliableruggedised #solosouthpole #challengeantarctica
Throwback photo when Baz was ready to depart for his challenge from Punta Arenas, pictured with DD the teddy bear given to him by his daughter Mia who along with The Baton carried on his pulk has been a key motivator to Baz during the challenge.
Day 37 - Highest Point Above Sea Level
Challenge Antarctica Day 37 – Location co-ordinates S 89.20.429 W 080.36.472. Today has been a good weather day with great visibility and firm ground with temperatures plummeting to -25 degrees. It’s been a long slow plod across flat terrain covering 20.5 nautical miles in 13 hours. Morale is high knowing the South Pole is edging ever nearer. Reached the highest point today of 2800 metres above sea level. Slightly downhill push from now and hoping to reach his goal in the next two days. All kit is working well and using the SATcase satellite phone @satcase to keep in touch with loved ones - always amazing and motivating to hear familiar voices.
As Baz closes in on his goal we’d like to remind everyone on why he is doing this challenge to raise awareness and fundraise for The Royal Marines Charity which aims to provide the best possible through life charitable support for Royal Marines, their families, veterans and cadets
Royal Marine Commandos have always been the first to understand, first to adapt and respond and the first to overcome – that’s the Commando Mindset but today Royal Marines and their families are fighting battles they cannot win alone. @thermcharity is uniquely placed to understand, respond and react, enabling Marines and their families to overcome their challenges including life changing injury, life limiting illness, mental disability, transition to civilian life and even poverty.
Day 36 Challenge Antarctica - An amazing milestone passed today reaching 89 degrees South, the last degree before the South Pole. Location co-ordinates S 89.00.029 W 081.50.803. Conditions haven’t been great today with poor visibility. Despite not being able to see a thing Baz has clocked up 21 nautical miles and is still on target to complete the challenge in the next three days. 60 nautical miles left to reach the South Pole and Baz is feeling good knowing he is close to reaching his goal.
Baz is using all his experience gained in the Royal Marines Commandos to push on and keep strong in this inhospitable environment and cope with the intense solitude and tranquillity. For 25 years Baz has been living, learning, teaching, and surviving in some of the most remote places on the planet as part of his service. While in the Royal Marines Commandos Baz spent a year in Antarctica as the cold weather expert to the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance. Responsible for training and equipping the 120-strong crew. He was also a pivotal member of the 2013 Shackleton Epic expedition, re-creating authentically the 800 mile ocean crossing of Ernest Shackleton from Elephant Island to South Georgia and scaling the mountains to reach the safety of Stromness Harbour. This is a region he knows and loves and his resilience is shining through during this challenge having encountered some terrible weather conditions.
Location 88.39.000 W 082.40.364. Fantastic day weather wise but extremely cold. However, the relentless pushing through the snow is really taking its toll on Baz’s physical wellbeing and he’s still feeling very fatigued. His R3 resilience is shining through as he is determined to hit his target of finishing the challenge next week and has completed a very impressive 21 nautical miles in 14 hours. It is now that Baz’s extensive preparation work is showing its worth as his mental and physical resolve are being tested as he edges nearer to his end goal. 81 nautical miles to go -nearly there!!
Baz had a strict physical and mental training programme which started 12 months ago. Activities included real-time training in Norway on regular occasions and back home a mixture of long runs on Dartmoor and some brutal tractor tyre pulling twice a week to gym-based work with great friend and former Royal Marine Commando Dean Burchell. Nutrition has also been a key factor with Baz purposely putting on weight for the challenge consuming a total of 5000 calories a day to help equip his body for the gruelling conditions in Antarctica which are seeing him burn up to 10,000 calories on a typical tough day.
Challenge Antarctica is part of the SATcase R3 Challenge which is all about achieving your goals in a remote and challenging environment that is outside of reliable phone coverage. Professional explorers like Baz push the limits of physical, mental and technological capabilities to achieve success. #SatcaseR3Challenge #RUR3Ready #resilientreliableruggedised Share with SATcase your challenge @satcase
Day 34 - Toughing it out
Fatigue has really kicked in today and it’s been a real struggle on day 34 of Challenge Antarctica. The legs are really feeling the pain but despite this Baz has gritted his teeth and achieved 16 very tough nautical miles in 11.5 hours. With no energy and every push a mammoth effort, Baz is fighting on and continuing to gain inspiration from The Baton he is carrying on his pulk as a reminder on why he is doing this challenge to raise awareness and funds for brave service men and women, their families and veterans. It is a powerful motivator and one that is driving Baz forward when his body is feeling the pressure and relentless physical effort required to reach the South Pole. Weather conditions have been mostly good today but very cold down to -20 degrees. SATcase continues to perform in the extremely cold temperatures as voice calls remain crystal clear as Baz keeps his family and SATcase team updated on his progress. The end of the day closed in with low visibility and high winds. 102 nautical miles to go to reach the South Pole.
Day 33 - New Year’s Eve in Antarctica
No spectacular firework displays or party celebrations for Baz in Antarctica on New Year’s Eve but the last day of 2018 has been an excellent day. 20.3 nautical miles in 13.5 hours and he has traversed the worst of the sastrugi. Baz is now high up on the polar plateau. Clear skies with very cold temperatures of -20 degrees have helped Baz to really push on. As a result the snow underfoot is fairly flat and firm. Happy New Year to everyone back home and Baz is very thankful for all the support and well wishes. It means a lot to have such great backing from his family, friends and sponsors. @satcase @jottnar @toshibatec @patroncapitalpartner @thermcharity @Antarctic_ALE @thebaton_official #challengeantarctica
Clear voice communication and reliability are a high priority for users of satellite communication handsets throughout the world and our voice calls with Baz Gray in Antarctica are crystal clear. Baz will be using SATcase to keep in touch with his loved ones today to make voice calls to wish them all a very Happy New Year. The team at SATcase are delighted to provide Baz Gray with quality communication and are committed to their ethos of being R3: Resilient, Rugged, Reliable. SATcase has been specifically built as a lifeline for people operating in remote locations and harsh environments, its components are all high specification; delivering the best results thanks to improved technology.
As Baz completes day 32 of Challenge Antarctica, he hopes to finish the challenge by the 7th January. Today has been one of great visibility, feeling very cold with more extremely heavy sastrugi. He managed to battle through and cover 20.3 nautical miles in 12.5 hours. Baz’s legs are also starting to come back after the extreme fatigue that took its toll last week thanks to the soft snow conditions. Location co-ordinates S 87.42.033 W 80.41.105
Baz would also like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!
Day 31 - Battling Sastrugi
Today’s story on day 31 of Challenge Antarctica is all about sastrugi and low visibility. Sastrugi are like waves of frozen snow and Baz has battled through it pretty much all day. Most of the day there was good weather but towards the end low visibility kicked in making it slow going. Very, very tough conditions to pull through the sastrugi because you hit these wavelike ridges of snow and you are falling over them practically. Baz was mentally prepared to hit this challenge and has clocked up 18.7 nautical miles today in 12 hours. Morale levels are high and Baz is feeling good with his body working well and feeling strong. Location co-ordinates S 87.21.90 W 080.53.667
Day 30 - Climbing
20 nautical miles covered on Day 30 of Challenge Antarctica in 12 solid hours. Baz has now passed over the 87 degree line with co-ordinates at the end of the day S 87.03.417 W 081.53.358. Another good weather day with the snow firm under foot thanks to the dropping temperatures. This part of the challenge is a constant climb now over 2000m above sea level. Tomorrow there is big sastrugi ahead but Baz’s morale continues to be good and he’s working and pushing really hard, aiming to hopefully reach the South Pole by 7th January. Baz’s endeavours have been featured on the front page of the Tavistock Times – http://www.tavistock-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=434540
Finally Baz would like to wish his wife Claire a very Happy Birthday and he’s looking forward to seeing you soon!!
Baz would also like to congratulate Lou Rudd @louisrudd who has arrived safely at the end of his journey on Dec 28, and joined Colin O'Brady on the Ross Ice Shelf. They have become the first two people in human history to traverse Antarctica solo, unsupported and unassisted. This is a journey Baz is hoping to tackle next year himself.
Day 29 - Edging nearer the South Pole
Another solid 19 nautical miles covered in 12 hours. With the firmer conditions Baz is really picking up pace and morale is high as he pushes on. Hoping to hit the 87 degree line tomorrow which is notorious for big dune like sastrugi. This will make an interesting two days ahead but Baz is more than ready for the challenge. As he edges nearer to the South Pole, his confidence is high, boosted by the clear weather conditions and firmer ground underfoot. This should make the last 226 miles much quicker as the Baz has the end in his sights.
Location co-ordinates at the end of day 29 S 86.43.351 W 080.42.150
Day 28 - Boxing Day in Antarctica– Pushing hard
Hope you all had a good Boxing Day! Over in Antarctica there was great visibility and temperatures very cold down to -20. Baz has really pushed on over the Christmas period, aided by the firmer snow conditions underfoot as the temperatures continue to plummet. 19 nautical miles achieved today in 12.5hours and feeling very tired at the end of the day with his body working really hard to cover more ground. Solid consistent runs now thanks to the improved weather and snow conditions working in Baz’s favour thankfully. For the first time in 28 days Baz has seen some people today with another expedition camped nearby. He managed a quick hello but moved on then obviously very keen to maximise the solo experience. 216 miles to go to reach the South Pole. Location co-ordinates S86.24.363 W 080.42.869
SATcase and Baz would also like to congratulate Colin O’Brady @colinobrady of the US who has become the first person to successfully cross the Antarctica continent solo and unaided in 54 days. We’re following and supporting Baz’s friend and British Army caption Louis Rudd @louisrudd who is currently attempting the same challenge and is very closely behind Colin O’Brady and expected to finish in the next day or two.
Day 27 - Happy Boxing Day
Christmas Day in Antarctica started with voice calls back home to Claire and Mia wishing family a very Happy Christmas.
Another degree line passed co-ordinates 86.05.442 W 081.22.038. Great day with good visibility and weather conditions. Impressive 21.5 nautical miles in 13 hours – a very solid day’s work. Morale is high and feeling good with his body moving well. The harder snow and improved conditions are a great boost to morale.
Today Baz has been thinking about what is motivating him to do this challenge and be away from his family on Christmas Day. Raising money and awareness for The Royal Marines Charity is something very close to his heart. Royal Marine Commandos have always been the first to understand, first to adapt and respond and the first to overcome – that’s the Commando Mindset but today Royal Marines and their families are fighting battles they cannot win alone. @thermcharity is uniquely placed to understand, respond and react, enabling Marines and their families to overcome their challenges including life changing injury, life limiting illness, mental disability, transition to civilian life and even poverty.
Day 26 - Happy Christmas from Antarctica
Short update this morning about Day 26 progress of Challenge Antarctica – Baz has completed 19 nautical miles in 12.5 hours on Christmas Eve. Good weather and great visibility with firm surface and light winds are Baz’s Christmas present. Morale high and feeling good. Baz would like to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas
Location co-ordinates S 85.45.000 W 081.17.453
Day 25 Higher than the UK
Clear skies all day with great visibility on day 25 of Challenge Antarctica. Now in heavy sastrugi but the ground is solid under foot making movement much better and Baz has covered 16 nautical miles in 13.5hours. Temperatures down to -15 and getting colder as Baz continues to climb. He is now higher than the UK at 1400m. Morale is high but he’s feeling very tired as the labours of the last few hard days start to kick in.
Location Co-ordinates at the end of day 25 S 85.26.010 W 080.20.080
REMINDER***Baz is being interviewed this morning BBC Radio Devon 10.15am GMT & is doing a joint interview with Lee Spencer, The Rowing Marine who is waiting to undertake an unsupported solo rowing attempt 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean #r3challenge#resilientreliableruggedised
Day 23 has brought yet more huge challenges as Baz faces deep snow and horrendous weather conditions. It has just been too tough to pull the pulk through the snow. The bad conditions continue to hamper his progress but he’s showing great resilience and determination and where many would probably sit the whole day out in the tent Baz has gone out and endeavoured to cover some distance.The day has been very much stop and start with Baz covering 4 nautical miles through the first half of the day before pitching up his tent. A quick call back to the SATcase team to confirm morale is still good despite the appalling conditions. After a tea of fish and potato stew Baz pushed on to go out and ski again clocking up a total today of 8 nautical miles and reaching his target of 85 degrees South.
Forecast for tomorrow is a sunny start with cloudy intervals. Baz is really hoping for firmer snow conditions as he edges nearer the South Pole and commences the climb which is set to bring bigger sastrugi.
Baz would like to shout out to his good friend Lou Rudd who is currently attempting the coast to coast crossing and he’s doing really well and making good ground. Baz is hoping to meet Lou at Union Glacier when they both finish their challenges.
***Baz is being interviewed on Monday (Christmas Eve) on BBC Radio Devon at 10.15am GMT and is doing a joint interview with Lee Spencer, The Rowing Marine who is waiting for a clear weather window in the new year to undertake an unsupported solo rowing attempt 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. #r3challenge #resilientreliableruggedised
The severe weather seriously kicked in today and after two hours skiing Baz had to stop and put up his tent because the snow was just too thick. It was virtually impossible to pull the pulk so Baz had no option but to sit out the bad weather. He’s gutted but the conditions are too brutal and would physically be too much of a toll on Baz. The effort just wasn’t worth the small distance he would cover. As a result Baz has had much time to reflect on the challenge ahead and his motivations.
Baz is fundraising during Challenge Antarctica for The Royal Marines Charity which aims to provide the best possible through life charitable support for Royal Marine Commandos, their families, veterans and cadets
Royal Marine Commandos have always been the first to understand, first to adapt and respond and the first to overcome – that’s the Commando Mindset but today Royal Marine Commandos and their families are fighting battles they cannot win alone. @thermcharity is uniquely placed to understand, respond and react, enabling Royal Marine Commandos and their families to overcome their challenges including life changing injury, life limiting illness, mental disability, transition to civilian life and even poverty.
Challenge Antarctica Day 21 – Epic day wading through soft snow in whiteout conditions as Baz passes over the halfway point to the South Pole. It’s been a really tough one today. Strong winds have also caused problems, but the temperature has been warmer at -6 to -8. At one-point Baz had to stop and pitch up his tent due to the conditions and took the opportunity to eat a meal. He resisted the urge to finish up for the day and set off again and today has covered a very impressive 14.5 nautical miles in 13 hours for his mammoth efforts today.
Baz knew at the start of the day this was going to be a tough one due to the forecast conditions which are set to be the same tomorrow. His morale is good although he’s feeling very tired today. Refuelling and a good night’s sleep will recharge him for tomorrow’s endeavours where he is hoping to cross another degree line over 85 degrees as he moves closers to the South Pole.
Good weather today but very tough going. Losing height throughout the day but felt like dragging a car uphill which was bizarre, but the dry surface snow has made it hard and Baz has struggled to get a real momentum today. Baz is amazed that for his 10.5 hours of effort he managed to drag the pulk for 16.1 nautical miles. Fatigue is really starting to kick in after a physically challenging day, so a good rest and sleep is very much needed. Moral is still high, and Baz is pleased with the distance covered. Heavy snow is forecast for the next two days which will make conditions even trickier, but Baz has a strong mindset and he has prepared well for this challenge and all Antarctica will throw at him. Winds have been 15-20mph and temperatures -15 to -20.
Location co-ordinates at the end of day 20 – S84.36.055 W 080.37.074
*Update Day 21* This morning Baz has just called into the SATcase team – again the line is very clear, and you would not believe you are talking to someone in Antarctica. Battery live is working well on the SATcase and it is dealing with the cold temperatures well. The weather is not looking good outside his tent with strong winds and heavy snow but Baz is getting ready to pack up and see how far he can cover today.
Day 19 has been a good day covering 20.5 nautical miles in 12.5 hours. The weather conditions have improved with good visibility, the sun was out and snow firmer under foot which is helping Baz to pick up the pace and continue to make some good progress. He has encountered some mild sastrugi but this hasn’t posed a problem for Baz today. Temperature is down to -15. Baz is getting into a solid routine and rhythm and pleased with the distance he is covering in his aim to reach the South Pole. Co-ordinates at the end of day 17 – S84.20.186 W 080.23.492
Baz’s love for the polar regions has inspired this challenge, especially the heroic age of exploration 1900-1922 where so much was achieved by some incredible people whom only had a fraction of the knowledge we have today. Baz’s lifelong hero and the man who inspires his efforts more than any other is Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. He is a very close friend of his granddaughter Alexandra who he chose to be the Patron for Challenge Antarctica
Baz is also very passionate about supporting forces charities after seeing and being involved in so much conflict over the last 15 years and has chosen The Royal Marines Charity. He has seen first-hand the effects it can have on families and in particular children. A large part of Baz’s time is spent doing what he can to raise awareness and funds to support these families and his intention is to establish a foundation for children from forces families which will involve adventure trips to the mountains of Norway. A place to allow children to just relax and focus whilst receiving all the support they need.
Excellent day today covering 20.5 nautical miles in 13 hours. Really pushed on with the snow becoming firmer underfoot allowing Baz to pick up the pace. Poor visibility at the start of the day improved later in the afternoon. The temperature has risen today to -4 and felt so warm that Baz has been skiing with no jacket, hat or gloves most of the day. Another degree line now crossed and location co-ordinates S 84.00.266 W 080.33.595. Morale remains high , although feeling tired after a hard day. Will refuel in the morning and be ready for day 19.
Morning of day 19 Baz has called into the SATcase team and the day is starting off looking bright so he’s confident of another good distance covered today. Voice calls are very clear – you would not believe we are talking to Antarctica!
This morning Baz was interviewed live from Antarctica on Radio Walkham, click here to check out the interview from about 31 minutes in.
15.4 nautical miles covered. Weather conditions have been clear all day with firm ground. Moderate sastrugi all day and very strong head winds of 40-50mph. Temperatures down to -10—15 and -25 with wind chill – the worst yet. It’s been a really tough day due to the high winds but Baz has ploughed on and covered another impressive distance. With temperatures dropping and the ground becoming further Baz is confident to increase his mileage in the next half of this challenge. Equally he is very conscious not to push himself too early.
Location Co-ordinates S83.40.097 W 080.27.474
This morning Baz has just dialled live into Radio Walkham using SATcase at 08.30 GMT. You just can’t believe he is calling live from Antarctica - the line was so clear. I think some of you have been listening I’ll share a link when it comes through.
16 - Today has been the toughest yet. Started with good weather conditions but then deteriorated and was so tough after three hours Baz had to stop and put up is tent and rest for three hours until the snow had settled. Despite this Baz did get going again and recorded a very impressive 15.3 nautical miles in 12 hours. It has been a real drag today. Baz is feeling positive with good morale but feeling tired at the end of a gruelling day. No snow is forecast for tomorrow so hoping the conditions pick up.
Day 15 has been much better with visibility lifting after the first few hours. Temperature -12 and wind 5-10mph. Baz is settling into a good routine and covered a fantastic 16.8 nautical miles today in 11 hours. To date Baz has covered 267 normal miles and has 474 miles left to reach the South Pole. Soft snow conditions are still proving troublesome but today Baz has experienced some long stretches of firm snow which is helping him to gather speed and cover increased mileage. He is confident of covering more ground with the improved surface conditions. Morale is high and he’s feeling happy with the distance covered and his body is feeling strong. Co-ordinate location at the end of the day are S 83.10.075 W 080.14.322 and 1150 metres above sea level.
To hear directly from Baz he will be live on his local radio station: Radio Walkham on Sunday morning at 08.30am using SATcase to dial in to talk about his expedition and the challenges he has faced and the journey ahead.
Weather conditions are hostile and unrelenting with a complete whiteout all day and zero visibility. Soft snow underfoot has also made today extremely hard work for Baz. Forecast is similar for the next three days so this is a key period for Baz to maintain his positive attitude and morale to keep pushing hard. He’s already proven his determination and resilience ploughing on through the continuous hard conditions. Crossing the terrain of Antarctica was never going to be easy. Today he has felt good mentally and although a hard slog he’s pleased to have covered 13.5 nautical miles in 11 hours. Understandably he feels physically tired battling the soft snow and poor visibility. He aims to cross the 83 degree line tomorrow and current co-ordinates at the end of day 14 are S82.53.813 W080.10.089 All the information shared is all thanks to SATcase which Baz is using for voice and data communication to relay his daily updates back to the UK allowing us to give you valuable insight into his Challenge Antarctica expedition.
It’s been a really tough day for Baz on day 13: Antarctica continues to unleash the full force of her most testing weather. Today he has battled complete whiteout conditions with the weather deteriorating all day. His morale is lower because he hasn’t achieved his target today but considering the continually testing conditions he’s doing amazing. We’re all proud of Baz here at SATcase because he’s covered 15.3 nautical miles in 10 hours which is brilliant. He remains positive which is key and it is so important to stay mentally strong.
Day 13 has lived up to its unlucky number by really testing Baz’s resilience and strength both mentally and physically. A broken ski bind proved annoying but was easily fixed but the gruelling weather conditions have affected Baz’s morale today. As a former Royal Marine Baz has been trained to tackle extreme conditions head on and achieve against the odds. His experience is really coming to the fore and helping him to remain focused and strong. Baz is prepared for the odd mentally challenging day and it’s expected during this mammoth solo challenge to reach the South Pole. As he camps out for the night he is thinking about the day ahead and hoping for clearer weather in the morning. A storm is raging outside and hammering away at the tent.
Baz would like to take this opportunity to say how grateful he is for all the support back home and would like to thank everyone that is following his progress and providing words of encouragement. Shout out to all of Baz’s sponsors who have helped to make Challenge Antarctica a reality and supplying essential kit that is keeping him safe, warm and on track to reach the South Pole @satcase @jottnar @toshibatec @patroncapitalpartner @thermcharity @Antarctic_ALE and @thebaton_official for whom Baz is a trustee.
Location co-ordinates at the end of day 13 S 82.40.305 W 080.07.723
Baz has powered ahead today covering 18.1 nautical miles (20.8 normal miles) in 11.5 hours. A fantastic day skiing with excellent visibility but strong headwinds and moderate sastrugi slowing Baz down a little. Much colder temperatures today down to minus 20 with wind chill. Not surprisingly after such a hard slog and distance covered Baz is feeling tired at the end of day 12 and moving a little slower but morale remains high and he is happy to have beaten his target of covering more than 15 nautical miles today. Baz is keeping his energy up in the daytime thanks to his pouch of goodies that he carries around his waist which is filled with very high energy and high-calorie food like Peperami, cheese, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit. This combined with his mental and physical strength is helping Baz to conquer Antarctica’s testing weather conditions and the harder ground is helping him to increase his speed and clock further distance.
Baz’s achievements during Challenge Antarctica are a great inspiration and fantastic part of SATcase’s R3 Challenge which has been launched to raise awareness about the importance of communication and what can be achieved when your usual forms of communication are not available. Our chosen charitable partner is the Royal Marines Commandos who demonstrate these qualities of being Resilient, Reliable and Ruggedised on a global scale, 365 days of the year. @thermcharity We are inviting others to share details about their own challenges and post photos @satcase and via SATcase’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Another record distance covered today of 17 nautical miles (19.5 normal miles) in 11 hours. Impressive stuff from Baz especially during a morning of yet more poor visibility. Antarctica switched the lights on this afternoon though with clear skies and Baz is optimistic of good weather ahead. The ground is firming up which is making pulling the pulk better but some mild sastrugi has caused problems and slowed Baz down a little. Morale and fatigue levels remain good with Baz feeling happy with the distance covered and feeling strong. He is aiming for another 15 plus mileage day tomorrow. The temperature is much warmer and Baz has been skiing today in just one layer and no gloves. Location co-ordinates S 82.07.979 W 080.25.873
A quick call back to the UK using SATcase to check in at the start of day 12 confirms the weather has improved with clear skies and Baz sounds cheerful. There are small patches of sastrugi ahead but nothing major and Baz is ready to pack up his tent and equipment and set off on day 12. Visibility is much better and the snow is firming up so he’s confident of covering good ground today.
Great conditions this morning with clear skies however whiteout set in again in the afternoon and then cleared for the final hour of the day. Whiteout and soft snow conditions appear to be the norm for Baz’s Challenge Antarctica which is frustrating but he is looking forward to the ground getting harder as he gets nearer the South Pole, so he can pick up some speed. Baz remains unphased and is pushing on. Mental strength is key in these conditions because he is having to really concentrate to feel the ground with his skis and poles.
Covered 15.4 nautical miles (17.7 normal miles) in eleven hours with temperature down to minus 15. A great achievement in these brutal conditions. Baz will pass a milestone degree line tomorrow; expecting to go through 82 South. His morale remains high and all is well. Fatigue levels are showing signs of tiredness and he’s moving a little slower today but is very pleased with the distance covered. Location co-ordinates S 81.52.197 W 080.44.770
Day nine started with more bad weather and soft snow underfoot but as the day went on the skies cleared and it finished a beautiful day in Antarctica. The snow is also getting firmer which is helping Baz to pull his pulk and it is getting lighter as he eats through his supplies. As a result today he has covered an impressive 14.5 nautical miles. Temperature is minus 8 and his morale continues to be high and he is feeling strong and happy with the distance covered. All kit is working well and doing its job in keeping Baz safe, warm and in regular communication. Baz wishes you all a good weekend!
Antarctica’s harsh terrain and unforgiving climate continues to test Baz Gray as he enters the second week of his R3 Challenge: Challenge Antarctica. Day eight starts and finishes with the return of zero visibility and strong winds making the day a tough one. With his head down, Baz has been using his Royal Marines ‘Commando spirit’ to inspire him and focus on the compass and covering as much mileage as he is physically and mentally able. Temperatures are around minus 11 to minus 15. It’s been another hard slog with soft snow conditions continuing to challenge but Baz has clocked up another 11.5 nautical miles. Understandably tiredness is starting to kick in as the testing conditions take their toll, but Baz’s morale is high and he feels like it’s been a good, solid day and pleased with the ground covered. The pulk is starting to feel lighter as Baz eats his way through his supplies which will assist movement into this second week of crossing the wilderness of Antarctica to reach the South Pole. Baz has covered 92.5 nautical miles to date which converts to 106.4 normal miles. The journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole is 715miles so Baz has 608.6 normal miles to go but he feels confident and is tackling everything head on.
Baz’s kit continues to be his backbone, and all is working well. The harsh conditions are a true test of SATcase’s ability to operate in extreme cold and the device is performing well and allowing him to communicate with his family and colleagues back in the UK as well as checking in with ALE. SATcase’s battery live is lasting all day when on which is great.
Location coordinates are S 81.23.373 W 080.23.3300
Today has been the toughest day yet with soft snow conditions continuing to test Baz’s strength and resilience. Pulling the pulk is proving to be extremely difficult but Baz is battling on. He has covered 10.5 nautical miles in 11 hours and continues to impress with his positive attitude, concentrating on the challenge ahead. Morale levels remain high and he is pleased with the distance covered and morale is good with his body moving well and in good order thanks to all the training that has prepared him for this challenge. Pleased to report that snow conditions aside, day seven has brought perfect weather conditions with blue skies and no wind. Baz describes it like someone has switched the light on the moon. The beauty of Antarctica is a sight Baz is very pleased to see and it is helping power him on. Location co-ordinates at the end of the day are S 81.12.35 W 80.17.26. In total Baz has covered 81 nautical miles which converts to 93.2 normal miles. A big shout out to Jottnar whose clothing is performing brilliantly for Baz.
The weather has been consistent for Baz since the start of this challenge and day six started much the same with poor conditions. The first half of the day was a whiteout with soft snow underfoot continuing to make the surface challenging and it hard to determine the definition of the ground. Strong winds added to the mix have continued to test Baz’s resolve but a Royal never gives in and he’s stormed ahead covering another 12 nautical miles which is well over a half marathon in normal mileage so impressive in difficult conditions.
Antarctica finally cut Baz some slack by the end of the day bringing full visibility and no wind. Temperature is minus 10 and Baz is pleased to report he has crossed another degree line and his coordinates at the end of day six S 81.02.2435 W 80.08.1125. Confidence and morale remain good and Baz is hoping to start covering more distance as the ground firms up. All his kit is working well and performing under some of Antarctica’s most gruelling weather.
Baz Gray continues to face gruelling weather conditions in Antarctica. His 10.5 hours of effort on the snow have clocked up an impressive 11 nautical miles at the end of day five.
Conditions remain testing and Baz has pushed on despite complete whiteout conditions, gale force winds all day and battling sastrugi. Antarctica is unleashing some of her harshest weather and forcing Baz to muster all his mental and physical strength. We are delighted to report his morale continues to be high and he is pleased with the distance covered considering the conditions are heavy going. Physically Baz is feeling good and demonstrating the true worth of his pre-challenge training and preparations. He is confident the soft snow conditions will ease up as he heads nearer the South Pole as colder temperatures will harden the snow.
4th December starts with a phone call using SATcase to check in with the SATcase team and wish his son Steven a very Happy 23rd Birthday. A personal message: “Steven I hope you have a great day. Happy 23rd Birthday from Antarctica!”
Today’s efforts are for you Steven. Fuelled with scrambled eggs and bacon, Baz commences day six on the 4th December and hopes the weather conditions will be a little kinder today!
Day 4 Update
White out conditions return, making visibility poor. It is tough with the pulk – the sheer weight of it and trying to move it has been made harder with soft snow conditions; giving our former Royal Marine Commando very difficult and testing conditions. While in the Royal Marines Baz spent a year in Antarctica as the cold weather expert to the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance. He was responsible for training and equipping the 120-strong crew. He will be drawing on his experience and knowledge to keep mentally and physically strong and as a result on day four has powered ahead, completing 14 nautical miles and feels comfortable.
The kit that Baz is using is playing a crucial role especially during these harsh conditions. It is the kit and the kit alone that keeps you alive when the serious Antarctic weather wants to hit you with all she has got. It’s not just about having the right kit though, it’s also ensuring you know how to use it. Every item has been tested and tested to ensure Baz is happy and there are a few new additions that he is using for the first time on a major expedition. One of these is his communication device called Satcase which means all communications both data and voice are being made via this. SATcase uses advanced satellite communications technology designed to operate with your smartphone. It has transformed Baz’s mobile phone into a ruggedised global satellite phone and as a result the SATcase final production unit is enabling Baz to use his mobile phone to talk anywhere in the world via Satellite. It has been performing well and helping us to keep in touch with Baz and learn more about his progress and how he is feeling. www.satcase.com
Day three, 1st December started with poor weather in the morning with harsh winds and limited visibility but pleased to report the weather lifted and cleared in the afternoon revealing the full beauty of his surroundings. Baz has full visibility for the first time during his challenge. It has been hard going today with lots of pockets of soft snow, making it difficult to drag the sled. Showing true grit and determination Baz has got his head down and covered a good distance of 12.5 nautical miles and his morale remains high. He feels good and is moving well, getting into a firm routine and skied for a solid eight hours today. Location coordinates S 80.29.9616 W 080.34.8290
Day 2 Update
End of day two, Baz is feeling good with high morale and a good distance covered of 25 nautical miles. His body is good, moving well and all in working order. Conditions have been extremely tough with very high winds and a white out making visibility extremely difficult and hard going. Temperature around minus 10 to minus 15 and minus 25 with wind chill. Hoping for improved conditions today. Baz is well prepared, feeling strong and comfortable despite the challenging weather. He’s been checking in using SATcase to report back and all is going well. Location co-ordinates S 80.18.8801 W 080.37.8396
Hear tales of true mental resilience:
RMA – The Royal Marines Charity will be holding its inaugural Enterprise Dinner, at 8 Northumberland Avenue on 5 June. This dinner is a special fundraising celebration of the Royal Marines’ contribution to the United Kingdom’s military capability and thematically focuses on resilience.... Read More »