5th January: Union Glacier
I have had a very dramatic day which started by being woken at 5.45 am this morning and given just 30 minutes to be ready for the pickup to take me to the airport.
Luckily all went to plan and they didn’t leave me behind. When I arrived at the airport we were taken out to an incredible aircraft called an Illyushin 76.
I walked up the steps into a huge cargoe hold with absolutely no windows. All the freight was stored behind us, including fuel and supplies for Antartica.
The flight took 4½ hours and although I could not see a thing I was able to watch the altimeter in the hold which told me when the plane was descending – I also heard the wheels go down. We landed on a 4 kilometre ice runway, 3,000 metres thick on the glacier itself. The plane took a very long to come to a halt as you cannot put the brakes on an ice runway.
Deplaned into glorious sunshine, the most incredible backdrop I have ever seen. I was absolutely speechless. Although it was very sunny and the sky was an uninterrupted blue the temperature was -10˚C.
The glacier is surrounded by mountains on three sides – awe-inspiring. We were driven to our camp – which is quite extensive – and shown around the facilities.
The plan is to spend three days here before the next leg of the journey. I have a tent of my own, which has a double-skin, hard floor, camp bed, table and a little bowl for washing in. All good so far!