So, today is a day I’m going to remember for the rest of my life I’ve waited 32 years to be going back to do this and I couldn’t be with a better team and I really mean that There’s always this suspense to any story, part of the suspense is: is it going to hurt me more than I think it’s going to hurt me? 30 years ago, I was the first person in history to have walked to the North and South Pole In a matter of weeks, we will be heading south again on the South Pole Energy Challenge which is a 600-mile walk with my son, Barney from the edge of Antarctica to the South Geographic Pole It will be the first polar expedition to survive solely off renewable energy That’s a combination of solar, passive solar and Shell advanced biofuels to survive on the expedition Here at the warehouse, there’s quite a lot of suspense, really The two sleds that are an integral part of the expedition, the ones that have our ice melters plus our solar panels, have not arrived which is a huge stress on the team We’ll be doing the weigh-in now and next time we’ll see them will be down in Antarctica and from there, we’re going to be down at the base camp hoping that our sleds arrive and just going from there We’re trying to do something different with this expedition and it feels a little bit like it’s slipping away from me personally If we can survive out there, only on renewable energy in the most hostile place on Earth, people themselves as individuals can make a difference I think we need to lead by example, that’s the purpose of the South Pole Energy Challenge Welcome back! -Here we are -Here we are indeed. Union Glacier -It’s good to be here, isn’t it? -Great to be here It’s surreal to be back here, to say the least It’s a little colder than the last time we were here It’s just great to be back and to think that we’re not here just to test equipment, we’re here to actually walk the talk, going to the South Pole my boy You can see the overall route from start to finish One of our most points of concern is bearing left if we’re not going to be right on the line so to speak We’ll want to stay to this right-hand side and you can see why because you can see it’s going to be a crevassed area Huge area. It’s absolutely massive This route in particular, that we’re doing, it can be extremely dangerous We’re going to hit crazy winds and it’s going to be some really cold weather, minus 40 degrees There’s possibility of frostbite, cold injuries Over the years, many expeditions have turned into fatalities and that is part of my job to make sure that it doesn’t NASA has given us these little pouches, we wee in them, the filtration system makes it into a super-rich, 100% filtered electrolyte drink Go on, drink some of your own wee It does taste pretty good What’s important is that that is all part of renewable energy, you can’t get much more renewable than using what comes out of you Everyone is super excited in our team We have finally got our missing link: NASA ice melters Finally, all of the kit is in one place It’s a moment, for sure, to pack your sleds and have 70kg or 80kg on your back and to really feel like what the next 60 days is going to be like and what it will take out of us I’m very, very positive, but realised how incredibly hard this will be Hey, gentlemen, welcome to the start of your adventure Well, this is a bit more like it Expedition mode engaged We’re going that way, right? We just have to look at the mountains and there might be a problem here That’s water now from ice a few days ago That’s hopeful
Good luck, guys Guys, fly safe A long march ahead, the only way forward is south It’s just really hard, I’d forgotten how hard it is to walk to the South Pole I don’t know whose idea it was in the first place. Barney? If you run into something like the South Pole without the right training, if you’re not technically, mentally and physically ready for an expedition, you’ll get caught out I’m really focusing on building that endurance, just getting used to having that constant pace and altitude Cycling has been a huge part of my preparation -Pulling tyres up hills -Which I hate, by the way That’s a really good way to stimulate the same muscles that you’ll be using skiing and pulling your sled My dad wakes up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed most mornings, I think that will be an interesting dynamic after days of both of us being really exhausted, snoring and me sometimes not getting out of bed maybe as quickly as I could or should Move on Fair bit of ice on the inside of the tent I like sleeping in which seems to be more often than not There’s too much -That’s enough of that -I’m feeling achy My feet are damn sore Right Feels like it’s going to be a windy one today and ready for action We’re getting into a bit of a flow, actually We’re faster than we were yesterday We’re picking up the momentum Moment of truth Success, I reckon -Another day -Another day, my boy As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re in hell, keep going.” This is not easy, but we’re making it Damn powerful place to find yourself in alone and not seeing anything Day six and we were how many metres away from…? 250m away from ten miles, Barney It’s about minus 35 degrees, Antarctica is looking for every damn thing that’s wrong with me So, we’re almost ten days in now and dragging this solar panel This ice melter is heavy stuff But it’s working and the biofuels are working It’s very hard, we’re struggling We did eight hours today and eight miles That’s one mile an hour I’m starting to feel a bit achy and tired It was a long day today, definitely feeling pretty beat There are certain times in life when you have to meet your match Today is a day we’re being attacked on all sides It’s not going well, my hip hurts I’m 61 years of age doing something that requires rest, but we can’t fall back We’re going to reshuffle our sleds around and try and distribute the weight a bit so we can get some momentum going between the four of us Barney has been unbelievable and today he has taken 7kg of my weight off my sledge I’m worried about dad, he’s doing a lot of suffering Using every ounce of my pain resistance It’s been a tough day I should be ashamed on their behalf to feel afraid, so I feel immensely proud I am the youngest of seven and my mum, who is coming up to 102 years of age, I was lucky because I was number seven, so by the time I came along, I could have said, “I’m going to fly to the moon” and everybody would have gone, “Whatever.” This is where I spent my entire childhood and this is where the expeditions began in this river Lots of good memories from being a kid around here Got a lot of nostalgia in this little spot for sure When I’m walking across ice and snow that ice and snow goes to the sea and that sea comes all the way up to the River Tees so I always feel connected via the water -Of course -…to you Personally Water is the great, what is the word?
Communicator -Mum, I love you -Bless you, darling We’ll be seeing you just in the beginning of January when we come back from the South Pole -We’ll make it, Mum, don’t worry -I know What was that? An extra fuel bottle I’m about to get my dinner going because we’re all pretty hungry Got some Patagonia provisions, some lentils, a soup and a salmon that’s equivalent to about 1200 calories We’re just going to be using the biofuels here to make that happen On this expedition to the South Pole, our warmth, our water from ice, our cooking and our survival is solely reliant on renewable energy This expedition isn’t just about our survival, it is about the survival of our planet Wow. It’s amazing, it’s like being in space or somewhere It’s quite extraordinary I’m an explorer, I’m not a scientist and what I’m really interested to know is how do we actually get from this woodchip to fuel I’ll be using in my tent at minus 40 on the way to the Pole -How do we get there? -Surely Rob This contains, essentially, primarily three elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen So, what we do is we remove oxygen to below detection limit leaving carbon and hydrogen which is a liquid fuel -And that’s it? -That’s it When Barney and I are sitting in the tent, I’ll remember where this came from, I absolutely love it We’re extremely happy, Rob, that we could be part of your journey -We wish you a safe and great expedition -Thanks. Good on you The very hard work on the whole team and we only did 7.5 miles in eight hours of struggle Yesterday, Antarctica would find something wrong with you It would look for a problem You’ve just got to watch every single piece of you because you can make a mistake I am finding it extremely hard It’s really quite physically and mentally challenging This is the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life Message personally from Robert Swan, we’re approximately halfway to the South Geographic Pole the right decision that I will not continue on to the South Pole So, today is the day I’m going to remember for the rest of my life And I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of my dad It takes courage to tell your team that you don’t have it in you and that’s what he did today I’m really going to take this day and make it the day that I change a lot in my life because I was beaten by this place I’ve been through hell and back I’ll be with you every step of the way and just occasionally turn around, look back down the trail and see me there But this is the best and worst moment of my life I’m definitely missing papa
He was a good reference and a lot of fun in between our shared suffering He was so many things and I definitely miss him You’ve heard of the previous recordings of what happened to me behind the team in what I call the ice cell And the destruction of my confidence the break-up of my body fear of failure Somehow, I have to overcome this overwhelming, awful, terrible sense of failure Not only for the expedition, but I feel a failure to my son My son turned from boy to man in a day because he really helped me and said, “Dad, you started all this.” “And I’ve seen the pain and suffering that you’ve been through to get here.” It was an absolutely desperate time for me We had a pretty long afternoon We did 10.2 today, so we’ve slowed down our rate a little bit The whole team is feeling pretty beat including myself, we’ve all got blisters and bumps and aches and we’re missing dad for sure Knackered I decided to be in the bachelor pad, I’m about to take off my boots which are falling apart a little bit And It was a hell of a long day, nine hours of marching This ain’t easy stuff, I’ll tell you that much It’s a nice, windy one today Pretty cold, ready for action My feet are warming up a bit today which is a good thing, but it’s very uncomfortable This is the real deal, we’ve passed a lot of little cracks, but this is a full crevasse, it’s very, very dangerous I’m in pain, that’s what a sore toe looks like Today is definitely the hardest day for me I’m pretty, fricking knackered The least favourite part of the day: putting swollen toes into a nice, icy boot Barney, it’s your father How are you doing, my boy? Everybody is damn proud of you, Barney We know you’re suffering a bit, hang on in there -It’s probably, what, 100 miles to go? -110 I’m going to put on a brave face, but this place is definitely eating away at me a bit The pain is for sure real Day 47 and I still can’t feel my feet Beautiful Day 50, I’m feeling it We’ve got five miles and then we’re going to reach 89 degrees south and that represents the last degree for us We are officially on 89.00 I was so happy to go back and meet Barney to join the expedition at 89 degrees south And it was a very special day when I walked out because I saw them coming I’m so proud of you Definitely a lot of feelings when I saw dad’s little face It’s definitely turned something in our relationship 570 miles on foot It’s a special day to be here sharing this moment with my beautiful, beautiful father here It’s a huge celebration today and we’re all doing this together It’s a relief and a shock, that moment when we collided back into each other and I felt his frame after 300 miles, it was a huge relief So, this is it The final night before reaching the South Pole
It’s been one hell of a journey I’m going to miss a lot of things about this place I’m going to miss the quiet For sure It’s been pretty deadly quiet Just like now South Pole tomorrow Who would have thought? This is the most exciting moment of the expedition and here we go all again, what fun One hell of a moment right now I’m super happy to be here with dad and it’s awesome It will be good to be at the Pole Can’t wait to see you stand there and celebrate your achievement We’re so excited to get to the bottom of the world! It feels surreal, really, to finally see our goal South Pole! As far south as it’s possible to go anywhere on Earth I was so proud of the fact that he had the guts to keep going to the South Pole It was the most special moment of my life I pushed limits to get to that point and the second I looked at the South Pole, there was a silver sphere there and it was a reminder that we’d done this together It was the best moment of my life South Pole, buddy! He did it He went through hell to deliver the expedition and because he walked the Pole without me, it’s his story And he now has the opportunity to use that story as he wishes to use it Coming back from this trip, it’s completely reinspired me and reinvigorated me to just take that extra step, make that extra effort, push that extra mile for our planet We have a lot ahead, Barney I feel very strongly that it is your future, your plan and I’m there in support of it The last great exploration left on Earth is to survive on Earth Sometimes, it takes these great adventures to show people doing things to the extreme to make people realise that the small steps that they can make are very doable I’m very glad that we still have people like that within humanity who are able to be brave and push the envelope If these guys can use renewable energy in Antarctica, we can use renewable energy in our day-to-day life I think all levels of society, it’s their responsibility to help climate change We, as millennials, if you will, we must mobilise and make our voices heard even more than we have We should want to choose the better alternative I think we all have opportunities in our daily lives to make our planet more liveable, our society more just The way I see the planet looking in the future depends entirely on the things that we decide to do today Don’t give up, it’s a battle worth fighting