I had finally arrived at Hercules Inlet, the coastline of Antarctica and the official starting point for my unsupported and unassisted solo ski to the South Pole.

There were busy few days at base camp, with final preparations and meetings with ALE staff to complete, but the main thing on my mind was the big decision I had to make: when was I going to fly out to the starting point. I wanted to wait until later this week, but unfortunately an incoming weather front at Hercules Inlet potentially meant I wouldn’t be able to fly in until Friday. I was against taking the a 20 minute flight straight away, but ultimately I knew it was the right thing to do. I’d have liked more time at base camp to make final preparations, but now I’d just doing them at the Inlet instead.

As I boarded the flight, I waved goodbye to Matt, our Mt. Vinson climbing group and other new friends made whilst at Union Glacier. I was crying so hard saying goodbye to Matt… I knew I’d be fine the minute I arrived and began the expedition, but at that moment the tears needed to come out. I was so grateful that we had these last few weeks together and he was by my side for the final preparations – I couldn’t have asked for a better wingman. He left minutes after me to make the the Illyushin flight from Antarctica back to Chile.

Tre-C from ALE joined me on the flight for my drop-off at Hercules Inlet. She was our guide on Vinson and it was fair to say we’d become fast friends. I was so grateful she was able to join me as we flew out from Union Glacier to Hercules Inlet. She even surprised me at the drop-off with some freshly baked cookies for dinner. Winner.

She and the pilots stayed on the ground with me for over an hour, chatting away as if we’d just popped out for a coffee and a catch-up. I wasn’t sure whether they were staying that long due to weather or if it was protocol, but it turned out they just enjoyed the trip away from camp and being out in this wilderness. I thought I’d welcome them staying as long as possible, but I found myself too excited to get started.

I’d often wondered how I’d feel in this moment, when the plane departed and I realised I was truly alone. I thought it would be one of those moments where you’d either burst into tears or laughter… I laughed and laughed and laughed.

It was a beautiful bluebird day, so I took my compass out to pinpoint the route I’d be taking out of the Inlet. I walked towards it a little. In the distance I could see the climb I’d be making, the nunataks I’d be heading towards when I started my journey. They sliced through the horizon, rising out of the ice like broken teeth. I felt oddly comforted knowing that out there, 715 miles in the direction I was facing, was the South Pole. And it was almost time to get going.

There was a weather front coming in, with snow expected – a rarity here in Antarctica. My plan was to wait until Friday to start, spending the next two days bedding down routines and hoping the weather front passed.

Twelve hours later, after a mammoth sleep, I sat in my tent drinking a huge coffee and eating chocolate for breakfast. Outside, visibility was zero, complete whiteout conditions. I could hear the snow billowing. I was in my very own little Antarctic snow globe.

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