The Last Desert Blogs 2018

View All Posts 2018 From : David Grosse

David Grosse
Terra Firma

03 December 2018 02:37 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

It’s now Sunday evening - and after 2 days sailing across a stormy Drake passage we are close to the Beagle Channel. Last night the winds were over 50 knots, at one point we had a 36 degree lean on, and conditions were 10 out 12. All of which meant it was a lively supper and bar last night. In bed there was a regular slide into headboard or occasionally semi airborne. Tonight is the official end of race party and awards etc ... hopefully in more benign conditions.

I did have a good joke involving a penguin and a seal - but it was too rude to repeat.

Monday 3rd morning - back in Ushuaia and on Terra Firma in Terra del Fuego. Lots of goodbyes as we all headed in our different directions. Many thanks to everyone - the MV Plancius team, the RTP crew and all the competitors and passengers. And especial thanks to Martin for putting up with me as a cabin buddy for the last 10 days. 

Over and out.

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David Grosse
The Last Dessert

03 December 2018 01:36 am (GMT-03:00) Brasilia

Chocolate Mousse – in case you are interested.


Given we are now in the Drake having a very big shake – it feels like it could be (the last one).


Now is Saturday and we are on the way back


Friday 1st Dec was the short ceremonial finish – on an island full of Gentoo Penguins .


They were brown –not because their wrappers had come off and they had melted in the sunshine – but because they were sitting on mounds of their own poop – dirty pingu.


As soon as we  got back on the boat – the anchor was weighed and we started the long dash back to South America.


Been very woozy this last 2 days because:


1..I’m knackered

2..sea sickness patch is on

3..too many beers from the night before.


Not sure I can write much more –as the ship is rolling too much.


Love to all.



Comments: Total (5) comments

Mum & Ken Rose

Posted On: 03 Dec 2018 11:57 am

Many, many congratulations! You have the stamina of the penguins without their toiletry habits! Shows that you were well reared! It is remarkable that you were able to blog anything whilst rolling drunkenly (both senses of the word) on the Arctic Ocean! See you soon. Love Mum & Ken.

Will Grosse

Posted On: 03 Dec 2018 10:24 am

Well done Dad - It was a marathon, not a sprint, probably something you can't say for the post-race drinking.... W x

Sarah Furby

Posted On: 03 Dec 2018 10:06 am

Huge Congratulations on becoming a member of the 4 Deserts Club, we are full of admiration for your courage and endurance. Dad sends his love and says: " Scott of the Antarctic was a hero of mine, I read his books compulsively as a child, his saga was always meaningful. I look forward to seeing you wearing your medal" Rest well, see you soon x

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 03 Dec 2018 07:54 am

It’s all been worthwhile and left those that know you in total awe. See you Thurssay xx

Jim Gollogly

Posted On: 03 Dec 2018 03:04 am

What an epic, you say, 2,000miles....and what a finish to it. So if you're feeling rough still, after a few too many beers, it was all well earned, and we really thank you for all the fundraising and support you've done for CSC... sit on your laurels for a while... cheers, jim
David Grosse
Damoy Point

01 December 2018 03:37 am (GMT-03:00) Brasilia

Awoke at 4.30 am – and opened the porthole cover to (oh joy oh rapture) fog and wind. As such early start deferred.


They were threatening another long day in the snow – and an extra chance to rest received gratefully.


It seems odd to expend so much time, energy and money to get here and then to celebrate the likely deferral of the very thing you came here to do.


After a day in the snow , vigorous exercise , in the summer, in modern gear – with a bed, food and hot shower – it only hightens my admiration for the early explorers. As Apsley Gerrard said – “polar exploration is at once the clearest and most isolated way of having a bad time  which has yet been devised”


By 11.30 – we were back on it – suited, booted and loaded onto the zodiacs to the headland. We spent the next 7.5 hours round a 2.4km course. Initially wet snow and poor vision, Hands freezing if you needed to remove a glove, goggles misted.


However, gradually the weather cleared, at the same time the mind disengaged. I went through a series of desert island disc podcasts – ironic for the location.


At 7pm a final “run” for the finish line – and in all probability the main race was done, not only for the last desert – but also for 9 years worth and 2000km of these races (maybe).


On hearing about derby, Brexit and grey skies – perhaps I should extend my stay – only kidding.


Looking forwards to end official end of the race – and 2 more days of the drake passage – which promises to be rough this time.


Bags to the ready.


Comments: Total (4) comments

Mum & Ken Rose

Posted On: 01 Dec 2018 04:49 pm

We can do ought but admire your sense of humour but at least you've no-one to blame but yourself for putting yourself halfway round the world in such awful conditions just to get away from us all! Interesting blogs however shows that you are still up to it! Exeter Chiefs failed in their last desperate effort to save losing their away match at 'Quins yesterday but they did manage a losing bonus with a last minute try. Good on the final cruise. Love Mum & Ken.

Katty Demeuleneere

Posted On: 01 Dec 2018 12:17 pm

DG, "Keep on keeping on " is what springs to mind! And it sounds like you are doing just that. Huge congratulations! Not only do you have the energy and determination to walk/ run/plod along in cold, wet snow ( you know how I hate the cold), but you still manage to write clever and entertaining reports! Not sure if I believe that this will be the last race, though. :) Enjoy Ushuaia! I was there 18 years ago, went to bed when it was light and woke up when it was light! 23 hours of light, weird. (Transfer done! sorry about the delay)

Will(iam) Grosse

Posted On: 01 Dec 2018 08:51 am

Well done Dad... I expect you're looking forward to the first cold (or perhaps warm would be more appropriate) beer back in Ushuaia. Swansea at home for the Rams today, Sevenoaks away for the K.S.C. U16 Bs. Im also now officially allowed to crack out the xmas jumper today. W x

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 01 Dec 2018 07:53 am

Well done on so many levels. Done and dusted......or is it! I think the only thing missing was a ration of pemmican. Enjoy a beer. X
David Grosse
Noot Noot

29 November 2018 03:27 am (GMT-03:00) Brasilia

Weds 28th - Recall the image  of the never ending spiral staircase that loops in on itself and always goes up. Now locate it on a snowy islet on Antarctica and put 50 runners on it for 10 hours. That was todays stage.


If there were 50 other people anywhere else in the world doing anything more fundamentally stupid then I would be surprised.


The Antarctic peninsula is the Canary in the global warming coal mine. – and today felt like it. It was warm enough to run without coat or gloves, under blue skies in blinding white.


There was the occasional crack of a distant avalanche or iceberg calving across a millpond bay.


Meantime I spent most of the time looking a few feet in front of me into the snow  - up and down , up and down on a 1.4km loop. In the middle of the afternoon the light turned flat – and there was no definition in the snow – each footfall was into a blank space.


Completed at 7.45pm – and at supper we were informed that the next day would commence at a 5am breakfast and then onshore for another long day. [email protected]


William- maybe it was delirium – but in the late afternoon I swear  saw a penguin dabbing?

James – thanks for the news from London – keep fighting the elements

Sam- thanks for the news on Antarcticas first attempted murder- I can well understand that as a provocation



Comments: Total (4) comments

Sarah Furby

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 06:02 pm

Are your ears burning? Just been at Mum and Ken's....we're all thinking of you and love your blogs, lots "Neet nit nit nute nit neet nit noot" xx

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 03:43 pm

Did you meet the old man in the Desert of Druze or Herbie Hart or Harry Hadlow. X

Katharine Baker

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 03:15 pm

I keep trying to think of something witty or inspiring to comment, but all i can think is P P P Pick up a penguin.... sorry !!

Mum & Ken Rose

Posted On: 30 Nov 2018 11:05 am

Your description of the never -ending staircase of snow you experience is replicated we are afraid by our politicians in this endless Brexit fiasco! You are amazing and will find your level eventually which is more than we can hope for on the political front. Sorry about the Rams being devoured by the Potters, but you can't win them all Good luck for the long haul today, Love Mum & Ken
David Grosse

27 November 2018 03:56 am (GMT-03:00) Brasilia

We sailed South overnight down the Gerlache Straight to the West of the Antarctic Peninsula.


The location for todays run couldn’t have been more archetypal Antarctica beautiful. A calm inlet with icebergs drifting by , blue sky, a humpback whale, a colony of Gentoo penguins – some of which were body surfing down the hill (penguins have right of way).


Given the course was only a 2km loop – in a switchback up to the top of a snowy hill – it was surprisingly enjoyable. By the time we got to the start location it ended up being only a half day – I think I covered 8 loops. Resisted the post race challenge of a polar plunge in the sea this evening – that would be stupid


still havnt put in any shaggy penguin stories. Something about the snow and unrelenting brightness  leaves my mind blank.


Tomorrow – I am guessing cold, snow, penguins and lots of KM.


Comments: Total (7) comments

Will(iam) Grosse

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 09:21 pm

The Rams were absolutely wank vs Stoke. 75% of the ball, with a man advantage for 60 mins, and 3,000 away fans backing them, they never looked as if they would win the match, lazy and careless. Good free kick from Wilson, but two Stoke goals, both lacklustre defending and soft hands from a shaky Carson. Them Stoke fans are, to quote on fan on Twitter, "absolute scrotes", booing Keezy after he nearly broke his leg, and cheering when Davies had to be stretchered off (worrying). Apart from that they were silent. A few inflatable snakes were thrown at Rowett. There was a 22 man fight half an hour in which was a relief from all the backwards abysmal football. Elsewhere, Villa and the scum drew 5-5, with a couple of sendings off and disallowed goals. School is all going well, we had our psychometric tests the other day, no doubt which will tell us all we're going to be plumbers or bus drivers or the sort. Run well in the next stage W x

Megan Robertson

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 05:33 pm

This sounds so amazing David! Hope you're enjoying yourself!! James shared a photo of who we think/hope is you with some impressive penguin photo-bombing! Looks like you're having a great time! :)

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 04:59 pm

Foul here weather wise....grey with total greyness. Pleased it was enjoyable out there on Stage 2. Rams playing Stoke tonight. One of us will keep you posted. X

Jane Chavasse

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 02:11 pm

Great to read your blogs and live Antarctica vicariously from the warmth of the flat! In awe as ever on your endurance. Here's hoping shaggy penguins and blue skies are winning over freezing squelchy feet!

Mum & Ken Rose

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 11:02 am

We hope that you are not left dizzy with all that looping! Seemed a nice short day in glorious environment: we wish we were there?! Poem from Mum: "I eat my peas with honey I've done it al my life. It might seem kinda funny But it keeps them on the knife!" Totally irrelevant! Love Mum & Ken

James Ryan

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 09:55 am

Today is grey. The fog yesterday was stopping planes from landing, which really inconvenienced some people. And cold - at times today, it's set to get as chilly as 12 degrees. Amongst the daily kit-list I pack into my pockets (keys/wallet/oyster card, HSBC pass) I now include a light set of brown leather gloves, a scarf, and a lip-salve; this, of course, has taken the average weight I carry from 428g to nearly 900g; it's tough, but there's just no surviving the 7 minutes between home and Raynes Park Station without the essentials, through the damp leaves and puddles left over from the weekend's short showers. The blinding greyness is taking its toll; seasonal affectiveness disorder is blinding us mercilessly to the fact that we all live in a modern, developed country with excellent schooling, healthcare and opportunity to live full lives. Amazon is selling special lamps that pump out artificial daylight, even cheaper ever since Black, Black Friday. The lifts were so full today I got out on L15 and walked the long, long trek to L21. My reception was too poor in the stairwell to keep The Today Programme playing on my iPhone, so all I had was the monotonous tap-tap-tap of my leather soles slapping the grey concrete steps. I've already done two laps of that - once to get in, once to go back and get coffee - and I'm going to have to complete another few laps before lunchtime as I'm meeting some people downstairs. I did see a tiger, some pelicans and an otter on the posters at each landing which was good for the scrapbook. Added to the lions, hyenas, hippos and wildebeest we saw on David Attenborough's 'Dynasties' last night and it's been a pretty hectic week, animal-spotting-wise. All I can do, as the grey of night rolls away to reveal the grey of day - all any of us can do - is to keep plodding along, wishing we were somewhere - anywhere - more interesting.

Jim Gollogly

Posted On: 28 Nov 2018 09:20 am

i'm sure body surfing like the penguins won't be counted as cheating, when in Antartica, do as..... cheers, jim
David Grosse
Frozen Pigeon

26 November 2018 05:29 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

Nov 26th 2018 – the final date in a sequence- January 1966, October 1994, August 1996, April 1998, January 1999, July 2015. Now November 2018.


Today we landed on King George island by zodiac and were up and running by 7am. We repeated a 14km loop as many times as we could in the time available. I havn’t broken any records – but at least I can claim a marathon in Antarctica.


As the day wore on the snow turned to slush – and the going got increasingly heavy. I didn’t plug in my ipod at any time during the day- so it was whiteout outside and whiteout in my head. 10 hours of watching my feet squelching.


Our route took us past a series of international bases – including Chile, Russia, Uruguay,  Korea and China. In 1988 the China base freed hundreds of domestic pigeons as part of a peace ritual – nearly all of them froze to death the same day.


Good news-we are sailing tonight to a new location –and hence we will not start until PM – Looking forward to a lie in.


William – a Rams victory? You can communicate with me.!


Love &




Comments: Total (5) comments

William Grosse

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:36 pm

I did tell you the rams result.... (2-1 away at Wednesday, Marriott and Wilson scoring). Stoke away tomorrow. Oh Rowett is a w.... Trudge though the snow well! W x

Mum & Ken Rose

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 11:12 am

Jolly good so far - keep up the good work! Cricket result form Sri Lanka very pleasing - a clean sweep! Good luck for the next stage, we are looking forward to news of the penguins! Love from Mum & Ken

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:42 am

Great to see you you completed Stage 1. blog entry could be a question posed by Victoria Cohen Mitchell and as more often than not I’m stumped! I know July 1994 ! Well done and keep those snow shoes moving. Xx

Dan Chavasse

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:21 am

Well done David! Loving your blog as ever and impressed by your fortitude. Keep going, you always said slow and steady wins the showing off in front of the girls. Best, Dan PS. What's an ipod?

Jim Gollogly

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 07:07 am

10 hrs of slogging round the course, should get a medal! I can imagine how heavy the snow got, and how attractive it must have seemed to join any of the group's camps....but like Shakelton i'm sure you think "difficulties are just things to overcome, after all"
David Grosse
Sunday 25th

25 November 2018 02:23 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

Sunday 25th – found it hard to sleep last night as the ship lurched. Anything not secured slid around the cabin.




The movement that pushed me to the bottom of the bed into my feet was fine. The reverse slide back up into the headboard – less so.




We saw our first pod of fin whales before breakfast – or to be more precise we saw their water spouts venting.




Various drills continued through the day – how to get on board a zodiac, the seamans grip, how to recognize a humpback whale, need to vacuum all kit –so as not too bring in an alien species.




And at 5pm the first couple of chunks of ice slid by – mini bergs – so we must be getting close.




Keen to get going now –so that I don’t become fully institutionalized. 




I am holding back all the penguin and seal stories for another day.





Comments: Total (5) comments

Sam Fanshawe

Posted On: 27 Nov 2018 04:08 am

Great start to Stage 1 David! Am really happy to see you there - I still remember that I forgot to mention you and Andy Reynolds as qualifiers after Sahara Race (Jordan) in 2012. It took you six years to forgive me but glad I didn't put you off completely. Hahaha. Am intrigued by all your milestone dates. Some good facts for you: * Antarctica had it's first attempted murder in 2018 - at the Russian Station that you ran past. The reason given was that the victim "kept telling me the end to the books we were reading". Sounds like a good reason to me ..... * You will be the 14th Brit to join the 4 Deserts Club!

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 06:19 pm

You’ll be glad to stretch your sea legs and get started. Enjoyable Moroccan lunch at King’s......amazing Geography! Hope the vacuuming went well, a skill you can put into practice at home! Here’s to a good stage 1. Sx

David Enticknap

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 02:55 pm

Best of luck DG, I believe you are totally mad but I also envy the experience. Best of luck on landfall, will keep following. Just have to break off for my pret "Christmas Lunch" sandwich but will continue to monitor your progress. ET

Sarah Furby

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 10:33 am

Dear David we are all grateful to David Attenborough for his perfect timing and for furnishing us with vivid visuals of some of the wonders you might experience on your adventures across the snow and ice....although I suspect this is contributing to wakeful sessions in the night for Mum! I am in awe. Good luck...and have a blast, love Sarah and Rob xx

Jim Golllogly

Posted On: 26 Nov 2018 09:30 am

David, one last race: we're sure you can do it, and then you can best wishes for when you hit land and start racing, and i'm sure you'll be glad to get off the boat! We'll be following you and cheering you on! cheers, jim
David Grosse

24 November 2018 08:08 am (GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi

We sailed on MV Plancius on Friday evening –passing through the Beagle passage and hitting the open sea at midnight.


At that point the roll started. The golden rule is one hand for the ship and one for yourself. Not easy when you are trying to take a scalding shower with shampoo in one hand.


A series of sickbags have been placed around the boat – tucked behind bannisters, handrails and in various nooks – a set on early Christmas decorations – hopefully removed once full.


It is now Saturday PM – and the seas are roiling and grey blue – and not another thing in sight in any direction – apart from the odd albatross and petrel.


My breakfast and lunch have remained in place – the sickness patch behind the ear doing the trick.


The boat at the moment has the feel of a cross between a cruise liner and a remand school. A remote voice over the tannoy inviting us to “an 11 am on Penguins on deck 5”;  “a 3pm lecture on Ice” – best keep us all busy so we don’t get up to any mischief.


Another full day at sea tomorrow.


Love to S&W.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Your Son

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 09:31 pm

Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Reach) - Derby County 2 (Wilson, Marriott) King’s School Canterbury u16 Bs (8 players) -5, King’s School Canterbury u18 Cs (13 players) 15 (Match abandoned after 30 mins due to lack of interest) England, 37 - Australia, 18 W x

Ros & Ken Rose

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 12:40 pm

Cruise sounds delightful, we wish we were with you! Good sporting news: England well on the way to a whitewash victory over Sri Lanka today. We are thinking of you day & night (your mother that is!) . Ros & Ken

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 25 Nov 2018 09:27 am

Always looking for new festive ideas and now I got one! A win for the Rams yesterday 2-1 away to Sheffield Wed. England beat Australia ....always good. Hope you’re paying full attention in class. Xx
David Grosse
Drake Shake

23 November 2018 11:15 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

Woke early this morning and from my hotel’s perch overlooking the Beagle Channel watched rain clouds drifting through. A couple of boats were gliding towards Ushuaia pier - one of them presumably the MV Plancius, on which we will live for the next 9 days. 

I am reading Lansing’s book Endurance- on the Shackleton Expedition.  As luck would have it I have just reached the point where they are escaping from Elephant Island to South Georgia on the James Caird.

“This then was the Drake Passage, the most dreaded bit of ocean on the globe - and rightly so. Here nature has been given a proving ground on which to demonstrate what she can do if left alone. The results are impressive” 

At the southerly latitudes of the Drake the oceans are uninterrupted by any land - so it swizzes around non stop building waves called Cape Horn rollers or greybeards. I hope the scopolamine patches for sickness work. 

I’m off to town soon to meet the RTP team and embark. Not sure when the next blog will be.

Comments: Total (1) comments

Peter Jones

Posted On: 23 Nov 2018 07:47 pm

Good luck xd
David Grosse
Alejandro Alejandro

22 November 2018 08:19 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

“Alejandro, Alejandro



As Lady Gaga once said. 

Alejandro rolled up in his taxi this morning to take me to the domestic airport. He looked like he had consumed a lot of ale had Ale-jandro. Not only was his body splitting free from his untucked shirt, but it was also straining the welded seams of the smallest taxi in Buenos Aires, which had a distinct list to starboard on the driver side.

We made stately progress through the early rush hour traffic, down classical purple jacanda avenues and on past jerry built breeze block slums. 

With me and my luggage packed into the opposite site from Alejandro, we acted as a counterweight on the sharper corners - as a motorcycle side car rider hanging out on a motor circuit bend. 

The descent into Ushuaia is one of the more entertaining- dipping below the mountain line, a sharp bank, and landing on a strip sticking out in the Beagle Channel. It’s the first time I have heard the round of applause for a successful landing for 20 years. 

Now relaxed after a swim in an indoor-outdoor pool - the chill wind whipping in a reminder we are now 3000 km South of Buenos Aires.

Ushuaia is the Southernmost City in the world (Puerto William in Chile does not count - as 2000 people is barely a village) 

Time to find some Argentinian meat. I may as well consume as much as I can before the start of the sea crossing - and hopefully it won’t all come back up.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Megan Robertson

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 05:33 pm

Haha! I'm expectingd more Lady Gaga references in the Symphony chat room when you're back! ;)

Alison Streeter

Posted On: 22 Nov 2018 09:29 pm

Never mind the ginger - you’ll need big nuts for this challenge!

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 22 Nov 2018 08:32 pm

Hope you packed your ginger nuts! X
David Grosse
Taxi to the moon

21 November 2018 03:17 am (GMT-03:00) Buenos Aires, Georgetown

The taxi driver taking me to Heathrow asked me where I was going. “Buenos Aires”. “Anywhere else?” “Further South”. I didn’t tell him Antarctica, it seemed - too improbable. And too likely to start an interrogation. 

Jon Krakauer said “Antarctica has this mythic weight. It resides in the collective unconscious of so many people, and it makes this huge impact, just like outer space. It’s like going to the moon”. 

So I didn’t tell him about the moon. The explanation would be implausible, and driving around the M25 on a wet November evening I didn’t believe it myself. 

20 hours later I’m in a hotel in Buenos Aires and it doesn’t seem any more likely in the heat of early summer.

The only clues are an inordinate amount of luggage sitting in the room. I’m used to packing light and shaving off excess grammes for the backpack I’ll carry all week. Expedition parkas, spikes, goggles and mittens don’t lend themselves to such economy. 

But the original backpack has survived. 9 years and 2000 km later it’s slouched in the corner. Frayed, musty and ingrained with desert dust.

Last week I did tell the sports shop assistant where I was going though.  I set down a pile of energy sweets, gels and powders. “Blimey- where are you going? Antarctica?” “Yep”.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Megan Robertson

Posted On: 29 Nov 2018 05:36 pm

Amazing! Love this - can just picture his shocked face in response!

Sharon Grosse

Posted On: 22 Nov 2018 08:27 pm’re almost there. X
David Grosse
47 days to go

07 October 2018 03:40 am (GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi

Is training hard and then tapering the same as not training hard and not tapering?

I hope so.


Comments: Total (0) comments