Ask the Boys…….

I know you have each run out of things to listen to on your iPods, have you listened to each others? If so what did you listen to that you may not have chosen yourself and enjoyed? Suzanne

Richard – I have listened to some of Andrews’s music plus some ultra runner pod casts… which has thoroughly discouraged me from ultra running

Andrew – I have just re-listened to some of my books

Alan – I have not run out quite yet, I have my own bits plus my wife’s iPod.

 

You are an amazing team and so close to the end. Do you know how much you have raised so far for these two exceptional charities? All the very best to you all. Vanessa x

Alan answered – We have raised an amazing total of $23,849 (£15,514) thank you to all who have sponsored us – read how the money will be used at sightsavers here and Guide Dogs for the blind here.

 

If there was one thing extra you wish you had taken on your trek what would it have been? Margaret Smith

Richard answered – A land rover discovery!! : ) and as we could not have that my answer is more variety in the food we have been eating.

 

What is waiting for you at the South Pole?
Will you be able to ditch the tent, sleep in a building?
Pop

Richard answered – We will be staying in our own tents but we have been told there will be a large meal tent, this will mean we are promised different food, which will be very exciting no matter what it is!

 

Tell us something about Hannah! She is in one of your pictures. What background does she have? How often has she guided such trips? What is her role day-to-day? Alan Andreasen

 

Andrew answered – Hannah is a legend, she has done this trip 6 times, more than anyone else in the world, so we really are getting a pro’s advice!  Hannah is Alan’s tent mate; she cooks breakfast and dinner and helps with tent activities.  She supervises many daily chores, routines and gives us general best practice advice.  She has an immense amount of knowledge on Polar expeditions from her vast experience.  She also shouts at us when we keep talking about ‘Cheeseburgers’ aw man what I wouldn’t give for a cheeseburger right now! – Here is her website

Alan – My view through Frosted Glass

From Alan……….

Many of you will have wondered how touch this is given my eyesight so I wanted to try and describe as best I can the particular challenges I face.  I am fortunate to the extent that I still have some sight left.  This allows me to appreciate the beauty of Antarctica but it limits me to the extent to which I need to lean on my team mates.  The best way I can describe it is like looking through frosted glass with a blind spot in the centre.  On practical terms it means I am able to ski relatively unaided, as long as I stick right behind the person who is leading, I guess the silver lining to my situation is that I get out of doing any navigation!  However once visibility decreases or terrain changes from flat to sastrugi or there are any sharp drops I have to reach out to Richard, Andrew and Hannah.

Perhaps the larger challenge is the more mundane things, for example I cannot see any detail on small things like the clips on some parts of the tent, arranging my harness and helping with parts of the cooking.  With cooking, I cannot read what I put out for dinner so I end up putting out the same beef stew as the past 4 nights, now beef stew is a good meal, but one that loses its novelty value after 4 days!

Thinking about particular challenge I face I constantly remind myself nothing compares to those that have more pronounced sight loss on a daily basis.  I should also acknowledge Mark Pollock who is completely blind, Mark took part in a polar race in 2009, whilst our challenges are different i.e. mine is coast to pole, I can only imagine how much of a challenge he faced with no sight at all.

Finally as I contemplate on the last push I hope that what we are doing will give inspiration and motivation to all those that are following us, from Sight Savers, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Perkins and the Carroll centre and others.  Speaking to many blind and partially sighted in our calls from Antarctica it is very uplifting to hear their own dreams and hear the confidence in their voices, I hope we can help in some small way to achieve their own ambitions, just as talking to them has inspired us to reach the pole.

I would like to add that you can all still donate to our charities through our indegogo site or paypal.

Ask the Boys………..

How much planning was done to arrive at your 7,000 calories per day? What % do you require for protein, carbs?
If Andrew broke his ski pole was that due to his gaining weight?
Pop

Andrew answered – Hannah has been a great help in calculating our intake and type of food, We are all heavy on carbs and protein, no I did not break my ski due to weight gain it was simply trying to use it to get up after I fell!

 

How many layers do you have on and what are they (base layers, fleeces, shells)?  When you’re all dressed and ready to leave the tent, do you feel like you are (a) in a sauna, (b) in a bath after the bathwater’s gone cold or (c) in Antarctica? Lindsey Taylor

Richard answered – We wear a base layer a fleece layer and a shell layer, plus when you stop you put on an extra down jacket.  When you leave your tent you definitely know its Antarctica!! – however when you are skiing there has been days when its sunny and fairly still you can strip down to your base and fleece.

 

Guys, it’s so inspiring to follow your quest!  Could you tell me how you know when to listen to yourselves, to throw out former plans and make a new plan?  How do you know when to just follow sheer willpower and push on?  How do you manage that balance?  Cheers – LouAnn Muir

Andrew answered – Each day is scheduled so we march for the same amount of time no matter what, we don’t worry about mileage.  There are too many things we cannot control and this is what determines how the days go.  We can’t control the weather, the terrain, the altitude and our health on the day.  We do always ensure we have food for any extra days just in case!  We split the day up into six x 75 minute marches and the last march is definitely the hardest!

 

Describe your sleeping gear. What do you have on the base of the tent? Is it so cold you don’t have to worry about melting snow underneath your sleeping bag?
Pop

Andrew answered – We put our tent up on the bare ground and then in the tent we have 2 layers of sleeping mats to ensure we do not melt the snow.  Here we are in our 2 tents, we have to keep them far enough apart to allow the wind and snow to pass and to prevent it building up between us.

When you are ready to be brought home-is there a landing strip at the pole-and what size/type plane is it? Are you still on for a 5th Jan flight?  It must be a wonderful feeling after all these miles to get to the point where a lot of people do ‘the trek to the pole’-the last 97 miles. Wonderful achievement and the money raised is amazing.xx Vanessa & Chris

Alan answered – There is a small landing strip at the pole as they use it to ship in supplies for the camps there.  We are taking the same type of small otter plane home as which we arrived.

 

Headed over to see Brad’s kid, Fin, he is 1 1/2 years old.
What was the youngest person to do a similar trek to the South Pole, for that matter the oldest?
Pop

Andrew answered – Its funny you ask this as it’s only recently that the youngest person to reach the pole has been broken by a 16 year old!  Amelia Hempleman-Adams broke the record on 9th December 2011.  She is the 16 year old daughter of British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams who was the first Briton to reach the South Pole solo and unsupported, her father accompanied her on the expedition. See more here.  The oldest man, Mike Cross, is also British and completed the challenge at the age of 60 and suffers from type 1 diabetes. See more here.

 

Hi guys – Merry Christmas!  You guys are amazing – congratulations on getting so far! Thinking of you all!
Here are some questions:
All – what’s been the hardest day you’ve had so far and why?  Have there been any moments that you were re-thinking your decision to do this trip?
Andrew/Richard – what are you most looking forward to doing when you get back in to Boston? (mainly so we can have it ready for you!) Jen Novak

Richard answered – The hardest day by far was a couple of weeks back, just after our second resupply, where we had a complete white out and really low temperatures, that was hard to keep going.  There have been no moments whilst we have been out here that we have re-thought our decision to do this, we all feel so lucky to be here and have put a lot of hard work to get to Antarctica!  However there were many times in the planning process where I think we all thought better about the expedition.

 

What has been your best experience so far and the worst?
Merry Christmas, from a guide dog puppy raiser for GDB. Keep up the good work. Be safe. If you get cold, think of puppies…..
Cheryl and 7month old pup in training, Citrus

Richard answered – The hardest day I have answered in the question from Jen, but in terms of the best experience it has to be initially landing in Antarctica, we were all so excited! Something I will always remember…..

Field of Sastrugi……

From Andrew…

We woke up yesterday morning and walked into a horrific field of sastrugi. The terrain resembled a birthday cake that was recently dropped, a confused mass of tumultuous snow. Consistent 3 and 4 foot climbs, 20 feet apart. The ropes we use to attach ourselves to the sleds are 8 feet long, so one has enough room to climb over the 3 foot high ridges of snow and get back on flat ground, then one pulls up the sled. We wear telemarking skis with skins on the bottom so they pull easier. Still, it’s very difficult to pull up 100 pound sleds. I’d liken it to standing on a hardwood floor in socks, and trying to move forward while someone holds your belt loop from behind. To try and gain traction, one leans more and more forward. Eventually, it looks like you’re trying to crawl on hands and knees, but are prevented by some diabolical force with a harness. Still crawling, we broke loose of the foothills that constituted the 87th degree and stood on the polar plateau, top of the bottom of the world. Relatively little elevation stands between us and our goal, and only 100 miles remain.

The end resembles the beginning. If I flew you over the coast in an airplane, the coast where we started the trip and the plateau, you wouldn’t notice a difference. Still, to us, with over 450 miles of Antarctica travelled beneath our well-beaten feet, some differences emerge. First, the snow is a little different here. The elevation, cooler temperatures, and wind have combined to put a thin layer of soft snow over everything, which makes for slow going.

Second, for the majority of the trip, the wind has come from our 11 o’clock. Now it hits us full in the face. Breath, which previously blew to ones side now clings to ones face, resulting in very funny looking 4 to 6 inch icicles hanging off ones goggles at the end of each day.

Finally, the elevation is affecting everyone. I’ve been told that because we’re at the bottom of the world the rotation of the earth throws the air up into the sky, the way a helicopter’s spinning blades carry it into the air. The barometer on my GPS isn’t deviating from measurements made by satellite, so I’m not sure if this is true. I will say, we all have dry hacking coughs, and are now find things much more difficult.

The next milestone for us is in about 40 miles when we cross the last degree of latitude. Skiing from the last degree is a very popular trip, and all roads lead to the Pole, so things should start getting quite crowded. We’ll be required to carry out our own bio waste during the last 75 miles of the last degree and we aren’t looking forward to it. So we’re quite close. Each team member may, if they let their thoughts wander, gaze into the horizon, and imagine the South Pole ahead of us. Within our minds, the dusty realization that despite having imagined the Pole thousands of times, the actuality of reaching it will be nothing like we imagined. Something about that realization is wonderful.

Thank you for your kind holiday messages. It was very heartening to read them. We’re driving on, and we hope to see very many of you in person soon.

Thanks again. Polar Vision.