The Big Turn

Over our distance of almost 1000km we only made one turn. If it were not for the Pensacola and Thield Mountains we would not have turned at all. From our drop off point we followed a bearing of 186 degrees for 19 days as we skirted to the side of the Pensacola Mountains. This led us to essentially t-bone into the Thield Mountains. In Antarctica you need to stay well away from the mountains as the mountains disturb the flow of the glaciers that cover the continent. As the glaciers turn around the mountain ranges they break and form massive crevasses that can be 2km deep. Obviously we want to stay well clear of these giant cracks in the ice. When we arrived at the Thield Mountains we made our one and only turn to 163 degrees. From here it was a straight shot 600 km to the South Pole. The turn does not look like much, but was very exciting for us because what it signified. Enjoy the...

South Pole: Windy Day

Antarctica is a very windy place. There is always a wind in Antarctica, the only question is how strong is the wind? The winds in Antarctica are katabatic winds. A katabatic wind is a gravity fed wind. As the wind currents travel around the earth they drop onto the South Pole and then travel to the ocean. Since the South Pole is close to 10,000 ft elevation and the ocean is 0 ft the wind is pulled down hill by gravity. It is said that in Antarctica you do not need a compass to ski to the South Pole. You just need to ski into the wind. As I sit in the tent this morning you can see the wind buffeting the tent walls, but it does not look too bad. Once we get out of the tent we are hit by the full force of the wind and have to dig out our sleds and gear that was buried by drifting snow in the night. Not only does this wind make travel more difficult, but the constant ultra-cold wind-chill can cause severe frostbite and windburn if you are not careful. Enjoy the...

Ingredients for High Performing Teams: #1, Psychological Safety

In 2012, Google spent two years studying 180 different teams to figure out the recipe to high performing teams. They found five main ingredients – the first is something researchers call psychological safety. Let’s take a few steps backwards, shall we? Over the past two decades, the amount of time that we’ve spent on collaborative and team-based activities at work has grown by more than 50%. Naturally, as one of the most forward-thinking companies in the world, Google has spent recent decades trying to figure out how they can maximize the productivity of their teams. After spending millions of dollars over years on initiatives that haven’t fully answered their question, they began Project Aristotle. As a tribute to the man who once said that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” Project Aristotle aimed to pinpoint the exact characteristics that separated the highest performing teams from the others. Before the project, executives at Google believed that building the best teams simply meant putting the best people together. Boy, did they underestimate the complexity of team building. The researchers at Project Aristotle found that what mattered wasn’t at all about who was on the team (successful teams varied in composition), but how they worked together. Specifically, they found five characteristics that defined how the best teams worked. The first, and most important, characteristic that they identified was psychological safety, which essentially describes whether members of a team feel safe enough to take interpersonal risks. It’s about whether members of a team are confident that they won’t feel embarrassed or punished for making mistakes, and this matters especially...

South Pole: What the Hell is a Sastrugi?

Pulling a 100kg sled 1000km across Antarctica would be much easier if it were not for all the Sastrugi. What is a Sastrugi you ask? Sastrugi is a Russian work meaning “parallel wave like ridges caused by winds on the surface of hard snow, especially in polar regions”. In this video I talk about how the Sastrugi is formed and the impact they have on or speed and difficulty of travel. In the end, we had Sastrugi for 90% of the expedition and in some sections they were huge and constant. When there is no break between Sastrugi it is like riding a bike across a field of speed bumps. 86.5 to 88.5 degrees were particularly bad and when you throw low visibility conditions into the mix, making any distance in a day becomes a huge effort. Enjoy the...