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.
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.
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.
In April I will once again be joining True Patriot Love as a guide on one of their fund and awareness raising expeditions. As a life-long climber and guide, I have been involved in all of the True Patriot Love mountaineering expeditions to date. As a team building and leadership development expert, I also bring essential team development and team building skills to the expedition.
This expedition will bring together a team of ill and injured Canadian soldiers and civilians to accomplish a task that will require planning, teamwork, trust, communication, determination and so much more. It is something that would be overwhelming as an individual, but possible with the support of a team.
As part of the leadership team, I will also be helping to monitor the mentorship program which connects soldier and civilian in a mutual coaching developmental relationship. We have seen huge successes with the mentoring program on past expeditions and I expect we will see the same again on this expedition.
We will be trekking to Everest base camp and climbing a small mountain called Kala Patthar 5643mas part of our acclimatization. We will then set our sites on the summit of Lobuche East 6145m.
In our Summit Team Building programs, we focus on helping individuals, leaders and teams develop skills in goal setting, communication, trust building, strategic planning, coaching, change management, emotional intelligence and so much more.
Part of my role is to help the team prepare for the expedition. A primary focus is on physical training which is essential. However, a critical element that is often overlooked is the mental training. Emotional Intelligence is a huge factor in building success in a mountaineering expedition and in life in general. I always say that your physical fitness gets you to base camp, but the difference between success and failure on the mountain will come down to emotional intelligence.
Take a look at this short video to learn more about True Patriot Love and the April expedition to the Himalayas.
Welcome to the second video in my South Pole adventure series. We have just been dropped off on the Ronne Ice Shelf where the ocean meets the continent of Antarctica. It is a beautiful day, but we are intimidated by the challenge we are about to embark on. As the Twin Otter flies away we are now completely alone. Isolated in one of the harshest environments in the world. We put on our skis, hook onto our sleds, file into a line and begin to pull. The journey of 1000km begins with the first step. For the next 45 days we will work together as a team to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to accomplish something few people have ever done.
This is the second in my video blog adventure series. This series will share my expedition to the South Pole.
In November of 2016, I set out with three friends to trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. Something which few people in history have ever done. We will ski almost 1000km across some of the most unhospitable terrain on the planet to achieve our goal. This video blog series will give you some insight into our journey.
It is November 17, 2016, and our expedition to the South Pole has officially begun. We have just landed at Union Glacier in Antarctica. This is the main staging camp where we will be for a couple of days before we get dropped off at the edge of the continent on the Ronne Ice Shelf. The flight from Punta Arenas is just over 4 hours and we land on a blue ice runway which is a 1000m thick block of solid ice. This Russian built aircraft is one of the few planes that can land in these conditions. We will be shuttled over to the main camp which is about 8km away and set up our tents. Once we have all our final gear checks in place and the weather is good for flying we will board the twin otters to fly to our starting point.
Our journey will take 45 days and will require us to dig deeper than ever before to endure the suffering required to achieve this goal. I have created a new keynote presentation called “Achieve the Outrageous” that shares this story and relates it to achieving greatness in our personal and professional lives.