SHACKLETON NEWS ARCHIVE
MEMBER OF THE THREE-MAN PARTY AIRLIFTED TO SAFETY
Unfortunately James Fox was feeling the ill-effects of the altitude and strain plus an adverse reaction to the dehydrated food, and was forced to abandon the expedition and be picked up by plane. Having had to clear a runway for the plane on the 20th December (and therefore having travelled only 1 km on that day), the team had their hopes dashed when the plane seemed almost to touch down before heading off into the sky again, the pilot stating that conditions were not safe to land.
Richard and Doug set off in earnest on Christmas morning, Richard also doing several interviews that day, including Sky News, Sky Sports and Radio 5 Live. With increasing altitude and the fresh snow, which creates more friction on the runners of the sleds, it has been very challenging. Whiteout conditions have developed and they have had to cross more crevasse fields, as well as encountering some energy-sapping climbs. The only way to replace the vast amount of energy they are expending is to eat: Richard has already lost about a stone and a half.
Temperatures around Christmas were relatively mild, around minus 23 degrees. The pair simply can't afford to lose any further weight through sweat. The conditions at altitude, however, have caused them to suffer from coughing and headaches. The team has climbed to an altitude of around 2400m (7800 feet, or about a mile and a half). The South Pole is 2835 meters above sea level; so Richard and Doug were at that point a mere 400 metres (1200-1300 ft)from their objective, the polar plateau.