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Pole to Pole

Day 136: Punta Arenas

Michael Palin - Pole to Pole'My son said, "Go on Dad, have a go". And I did.'

The rest of the party are Japanese - three neatly and identically attired mountaineers and the rest aiding and abetting a genial, shaggy-haired character called Shinji Kazama. Kazama-San, as his team refer to him, is attempting to make the first motorbike journey to the Pole. He's already driven a bike 15,000 feet up Everest. He has an assistant, Antonio, and an immaculately dressed film crew of three.

In England many people thought I was mad to attempt to go from Pole to Pole overland. Here, in the lounge of the Hotel Navigantes in Punta Arenas, I reckon I'm about the sanest in the room. Excepting, that is, the local head of Adventure Network, who is not a wild man in a beard or a lean and weathered six-and-a-half-footer, but a slight, delicately attractive, soft-spoken Scot called Anne.

She conducts the briefing, telling us that Adventure Network, and an outfit splendidly named Antarctic Airways were founded in 1983 by two Canadian mountaineers and 'a seasoned Antarctic pilot, Giles Kershaw'. This last she said without flinching, which cannot have been easy as Kershaw, by all accounts a brave man and an extraordinary character, died in an accident out there a year ago. She had been married to him for eighteen months.

Two years later Adventure Network set up a permanent base camp at the Patriot Hills, 78 degrees South.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 136
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Punta Arenas
  • Book page no: 303

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