Update from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals written by expedition member Kat.
We’re now starting into our 3rd week of the expedition on the Antarctic ice! Today is our first half rest day and a well earned one indeed! We have now crossed over 84 degrees of latitude and have skied 135 nautical miles/ 155 miles/250kms. We started at 82 degrees South heading towards 90, so moving along nicely so far, passing the Pensicola mountains to our far West. We’ve had a mix of weather but mainly cold and clear with low wind, but always biting…As we’ve now gained over 1000m in altitude, most days are calling for our fur ruffs to be pulled up to protect our faces and mitts to keep warm. Its beautiful and wild down here on the ice. The terrain has been varied and although mainly flat, there have been some tricky sastrugi areas to be navigated around and over. The sleds thankfully are starting to feel a little lighter, but by the last ski blocks of the day, it always feels like someone has put rocks in them:). Today we will ski half a day and tomorrow we will begin out first full day of 8 hours of skiing. The team are all doing really well, staying strong and healthy and we are eating as many calories as we can fit in!
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January 10th– Well the spirits are high here on burger night in the basecamp, we got our kitchen tents set up , and guides Dave and Tomas are slinging cheeseburgers off the MSR stoves with reckless abandon.
We had a busy morning as is usual with our team! Everyone is getting along well and working together for our common goals on the trip. We asked the soldier team if they could help establish a kitchen tent while the guides were in a meeting and we came back to two awesome setups! Nice work soldiers!
At around 1:30 today pm we left camp in our rope teams with a small amount of high gear to deposit at what is called half camp, a common spot to drop things as an acclimatization carry just below 9000 feet in elevation. It was variable weather with crisp cold conditions of around -15 C and some light snow but we got several breaks in the weather for sun and had an overall rapid up and down. So things are going well so far, we will probably stay around camp in the morning to get a feel of what the weather will do and make additional plans then!
January 11th– The team is doing great, we had a well earned rest day at basecamp today.
Updates provided by Ryan Waters- Mountain Professionals
Going to Everest does seem a little crazy to some people. And, since I’ve gone there, I guess that would place me … and many others I know … in that category too. To me, crazy is not really the right word, as that implies reckless abandonment. I see climbing Everest as a calculated risk. Our lives are full of risk and we are better for it. The key is to take a smart risk.
I can only speculate as to why others go to Everest, and I will do so based on people I have spoken with. But I can also share my personal motivations for going.
I am a very goal motivated person. Without an immediate goal to focus on, it is all too easy for me to lose my drive and to flounder. My mind dulls and my body weakens. With a goal, I have the passion and drive to meet each day head on. My focus sharpens. I pay attention to my fitness. The benefits spill into my overall health and my life in general.
In everything I do, I want to be good. Don’t we all? In a study around what creates “drive”, Dan Pink found that the opportunity for “Mastery” is critical for having a motivated and fulfilling fife. Mastery is simply the desire to get better at something. For me this “something” is climbing.
I was a climber from a very young age and, as I grew, I began to test myself on bigger and bigger challenges. I started with local rock and ice climbs and then moved further afield to find bigger and more challenging climb’s in the US, Mexico and South America. I then moved onto mountaineering in what seemed to me as a natural progression. Looking for bigger and bigger challenges I finally set my sights on Everest.
Now that I am done climbing the 7 summits (the highest point on each of the 7 continents) I am still not done. Climbing was not just part of a check list or a “bucket list” for me. It is a way of life and it feeds me every day. I intend to continue to climb as long as I can, expecting that my objectives will change as time marches on.
I also see climbing as a way to explore new worlds and people. Climbing has taken me to places few people will ever go and I have had experiences that have made me a better person. Life is short and I believe that everyone should make the most of their life. I have chosen to do that via climbing.
So, if this is why I go, I can only assume that there are others like me out there. There are others for whom climbing Everest is just part of a check list. They are “peak baggers”, not climbers. Climbing is not the only activity to draw attention this way, but it is one of the more powerful magnets. These people often enter into the game for a short while and then move on. This is a reasonable proposition as this is how we learn if this is the right thing for us. They key is to enter at a place relative to your experience level. Starting with Everest is just not a smart move.
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First off, let me tell you that I am not an elite athlete. I am a regular person who works hard to accomplish what I do. I do not have the luxury of being able to train all day with a personal trainer like most professional athletes. I need to fit my training into my lifestyle which can be a challenge at the best of times.
Obviously to climb in Antarctica or to climb Everest you need to be in great shape. The better shape you are in the greater your chance of success and safety.But fitness also increases your enjoyment. It’s hard to enjoy any experience if you are constantly winded and struggling for each step. I want to be able to enjoy the environment I am in and to have the energy I need to make the most of the experience.
Physical fitness is a baseline requirement for participation in mountaineering but, once that has been met, I believe that mental and emotional fitness are next on the list. Our minds are extremely powerful tools and they can work with us or against us. Our attitude can help us soar or it can break us. I have seen it countless times in the mountains, on training runs, and even with my children in sports, homework, and piano.
I find goal setting to be the best way to stay focused on fitness. Without a clear goal I find my time is easily filled with other things. At the start of August, just after I returned from Kilimanjaro, I had minor knee surgery. I knew that exercise would be important for my recovery. I also knew that I have a big hill to climb in November so I need to build up my strength and endurance. Running was not an option for 6 weeks so I figured cycling would be a good way to go. I registered for a 50 mile road race in Collingwood on September 18. This ride would climb the Niagara Escarpment three times. My time was slow and the ride was tough, but it kept me focused and gave me a goal. I have registered for another 50 mile ride in Niagara in October and am going out for a run today to test my knee.
The key steps in motivation are: 1) Have a Vision, 2) Develop an Action Plan, 3) Do it with a friend, 4) Reflect on progress. More on this next time …
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