On 13th January 2016 I’m due to fly from London to Cape Town, alongside a BBC TV crew and BBC presenter Peter Gibbs. There we’ll join the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Ernest Shackleton, for a two-week voyage south across 2,500 miles of the roughest seas in the world, to reach the British Antarctic research station Halley in the last week of January.
It’s a big trip coming up. Two years in the planning.
After a couple of days there, we board an RAF charter flight from the Falklands to Ascension Island, in the middle of the Atlantic near the Equator. The TV crew fly straight on to Britain, but Peter and I disembark for a few days. From Ascension we fly on to the UK, due to touch down at RAF Brize Norton about breakfast time on 24th February.
Why? The backstory is here – click to read.
I’m producing two documentaries for BBC Radio 4, both presented by Peter Gibbs – one on Halley (Peter’s return there after 35 years, the journey, the location, the science), the other on Ascension Island (its unique ecosystem, conservation issues around the introduction of invasive species). There’ll be more radio from the Falklands, blogs and features, and – bandwidth permitting – I’m hoping to be able to tweet and send short videos for social media throughout the trip. TV is there to film a separate, full-length science documentary, also presented by Peter.
But there can’t be any guarantees. I may be off-grid for the whole six weeks. The sea ice might slow us down – or, perhaps, trap us for a few hours. Or days. Or longer, if we’re unlucky. Impossible to predict.
You can follow the journey.
Track the progress of the Shackleton here, hour-by-hour.
There’s a webcam on the ship here, updated hourly.
There’s also a webcam at Halley here, updated hourly.
I will try and tweet from @matthewteller.
Also follow these Twitter accounts for details as the journey unfolds:
You could try following me on Snapchat @matthewteller – I’ll do my best to upload snaps & stories. Instagram? If I can.
Antarctica is absence. Absence from loved ones, silence in children’s lives. It is darkless, then lightless. It has no colour, no water, no people. No smell. It is rock, unyielding, or touchless powder. Comfort is there, but not of this world. I have, almost literally, no idea what’s going to happen.