november 2015. punta arenas, chile
Today ALE came to my hotel to do an equipment check.
In preparation to this check, I laid out all my gear starting from head to neck to body to crotch to legs to toes.
Nadia and Linda entered my room and took out their check list and pen and asked me for what I packed.
While I was going through my gear…all packed, sealed in separate glad zip bags, labeled and numbered…they took out their point and shoot camera and took pictures of my super duper organised system. And they pronounced that I was the most organised client they have ever had.
They then walked me to their offices on O’Higgins Avenue (yes, seems the Irish have made headway coming south along with the Spanish…albeit in a minor fashion).
Here I met the owners who shared that in their almost 15 years of business that I was the first and thus only client whom ever asked to stay extra long on a trip to antarctica…
That said they were super kind to make it happen for me.
I then went to visit Dave …the expert gear guy that proceeded to fit me with size 14 Baffin Boots which are rated to keep you warm down to -90 degrees.
Which we both agreed was complete bullshit marketing.
Then I tried on my super warm super insulated black overalls and super warm and also super insulated red South Pole jacket.
All this clothing is of course to keep you warm.
But it’s real job is to keep you alive and all your digits from turning black from frost bite.
It’s when you wear this clothing…and think about all the other clothing gear you have…that you are reminded in a way that makes your head feels like a Chevy Yukon just drove staring into your face…
This is super ultra out of control nuts experience.
And while I will always be incredibly respectful of the environment and the unknown…this is exceptionally extreme.
Getting to antarctica will take 4 1/2 hours on a Russian plane flown by 5 Russian pilots and attendants.
Then you spend one day/night at Union glacier camp.
The next day we fly 2 1/2 hours to the emperors camp where we get briefed.
Here is the super good news.
The emperor colony is only 1 1/5 miles from camp.
Which means it will take about 2 hours of walking and pulling my gear in a sled…just to get to the colony.
So a key part of this trip is body temperature management.
You do not want to sweat on this trip.
Because sweating means being wet and getting frozen. From the inside out.
That would suck.
So pulling the sled means stripping down to the minimal clothing possible to stay cool and not sweat.
Yes. Staying cool enough is a goal.
And then when you get to the colony…you slowly add layers.
This layering dance is not my background in practice…but it is understood in theory.
And as this is my first time literally pulling (aka dragging) 70 pounds of gear on a sled anywhere let alone antarctica…I will be testing and learning along the way.
There are so many unknowns…the weather…the wind…the sweating and layering…the penguins behaviour…my equipments behaviour…and of course…my behaviour.
For one other Unknown is the emotional, psychological and physical impact of being this truly remote…this level of sensory deprivation…this level of isolation…and coming off a massive back problem of not being able to walk…are all welcomed, real and new challenges.
I take all of this adventure seriously.
And I also am full of excitement and optimism.
For to explore this world…this way…is a spiritual and brain rush.
A rush that I am going full force into.
And one that I hope to return as healthy and hopefully more fulfilled then ever before.
The risk in life is not taking one.