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.
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
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