Ask the Boys……………..

This will be the last Ask the Boys post whilst they are trekking…… all being well with the weather and the teams fitness and equipment they should arrive at the pole at some point tomorrow or early Thursday!

 

Hi boys!  I have a question…how will you be seeing in the new year? Have you got any celebrations planned :) ? HAPPY NEW YEARS and well done – what you are doing is amazing!
Jo Lock

Richard answered – We celebrated New Years on UK time given ¾ are british, this allowed us allowed us to go to bed at our normal time of 9.00ish, we still had a little whiskey!

 

Andrew mentioned carrying all the biowaste for the last 75miles or so. Is there an incinerator at the pole or what happens to all the waste from all the various visitors?  You can count on one hand walking days left. You are all incredible. xx Vanessa Lock

Andrew answered – The waste is flown back to Chile

 

Are there only certain times of the day/night that the Iridium phone will work? Do you have to wait until a satellite is overhead?
Pop

Andrew answered – The Iridium Phones have been amazing, they work 24 hours, Iridium have an outstanding satellite network which covers the globe

 

There is little snow in the Colorado Mountains, snowpack is almost at record lows.
Today, this week, in Denver the temperature will be close to 60 degrees.
In the short amount of time Hannah has visited the South Pole has she experienced warmer weather, wilder, weather events?
Pop

Hannah answered – Although we have had many storms and cold temperatures, this summer has been milder than some I have experienced in Antarctica.  Its always a wild card with the weather but we have been lucky.

 

So close. Thinking about your effort everyday. Stay on it. One question prompted by the newest pix. How good will a shower feel? Jim Durning

All the team answered –  It will be the best warm shower ever!…….. 

 

As you probably know, the A-Team is made up of 4 members- If you were the A-Team, which character would each of you play and why? Andrew Lock

Richard answered – After careful consideration (which is what the question requires!  Richard – Face, Alan is Murdoch, Andrew is BA and Hannah is Hannibal!

 

So what time zone are you guys on exactly? Or do you just make up your own as it goes along?
Enjoy the last few days, guys!!  We’re all so excited for you. Scott Shapiro

Andrew answered – Whichever we choose but on Chilean time, which is 3 hours behind GMT.  The sun on back all the time whilst trekking?

 

Will there be a special event/observance when you come home? If not there should be! Gloria Cordova

Richard answered – Nothing planned as yet, just concentrating on reaching the pole and getting back home to family and friends – we won’t rule anything out though!

Some things we cannot change

From Andrew…

Recently, in the midst of a raging storm which lasted for three days, we crossed the invisible line which marks the last degree of latitude separating us from the South Pole.

As polar storms go, this one was spectacular. The winds shot up to a consistent 25 miles per hour. The clouds above us dropped the temperature to about 30 below without wind chill. Ice crystals hung in the air, causing a halo around the sun. We also witnessed a phenomenon called a “Sun Dog” — the appearance of a second sun on the horizon.

Meanwhile, we were subjected to rolling whiteouts. It reminded me of old black and white war movies I saw as a kid – where they didn’t have enough money for set design, so they surrounded the actors with smoke.

Life here slows down at 30 below. It takes considerably longer to set-up and breakdown camp while wearing boxing style gloves. Snow takes forever to melt in the stove, and electronics seize up and refuse to function. What doesn’t change, however, is the mileage we must make everyday to reach the pole. We need three more days of 15 miles a day. And as I write this, the weather has broken, and we have clear skies ahead.

One new concern has arisen; however, skiing today I felt a pop in my right binding. One of the two metal pieces which secure the boot to the ski snapped in the cold. We have no replacement binding and no way to repair it – should the other metal piece break.

I would prefer to ski rather than walk the remaining miles to the pole. Still, walking that distance is within the realm of possibility. My record for running 50 miles is about nine hours. I can make it. I am mainly mentioning this to reassure myself. Sure, I have done that running, but this is dragging a sled across snow, so the two things don’t really compare physically. It is the type of mental trick my brother and I would play while trying to will one another into some mischief – comparing what we were about to do to something we had seen on a cartoon.

The thing is, I didn’t come into ultrarunning on my own. I ran track as a freshman in high school and was absolutely terrible. I was usually last in all my races and quitting halfway through the season due to shin splints.

A friend of mine at the United States Military Academy, Dan Whitten, got me into ultra running. He learned about a local race started by John F. Kennedy as a test for military personnel in the 1960′s. I think he feel in love with the sheer lunacy of it.

Dan and I ran my first ultra-run together. He didn’t make it – something about needing to get a cheeseburger at mile 35, but it opened up something deep in me. I was subjected to a very rigid lifestyle at the Academy. For the first time, I felt like if I applied myself in a focused and disciplined way, my feet would carry me as far as I was willing to go.

Dan died in combat in Afghanistan in February 2010. This was about the same time I was decided whether to join Polar Vision.

I had just left the military six months before his death. What was the point of leaving? The stability of a civilian life which had seemed so important, suddenly didn’t matter. What could I do now that I had left?

Ultimately, I decided to go ahead with Polar Vision.

There are things we cannot control. Tomorrow, the team will wake up. My binding will still be broken. The terrain will still be atrocious. The weather will still be cold. Alan will still have lost most of his eyesight. Dan will still be dead.

But, I also know the sun will still be above us. I know we will divide the weight of the sleds among us in a way that works. I know we will find a way to smile and even laugh during the breaks. I know there are some things that are worth doing, and I know this is one of them.

I also know there are things we can do to make the world a better place. I can’t bring Dan back, but some of the help we bring Guide Dogs and Sightsavers will help people get a new grasp on life.

Those of you following the trek cannot row across the ocean or ski the the South Pole – but that is not necessarily what it takes. Please take some time to read the blogs by Guide Dogs and Sightsavers that we link to on the site. The help that they need is easier than you may think.

Meanwhile, thanks again for your support – happy new year- and onward to the pole!

Home thoughts from abroad

From Richard……………

We are genuinely very pleased, grateful and excited to be here, we really are, however at this stage of the expedition we are very pleased, grateful and excited to be going home.

We are all feeling the real niggles now, sore backs, blisters, tiredness and lethargy, we never really rest ‘properly’ as you are still in a sleeping bag…….. in a tent…….. in Antarctica……..  It is inevitable that we all feel that way, we have covered a long distance, but it is the physical respite that now surfaces.

There is a lot of ‘stuff’ we all want to get on with in the ‘real world’.  When you are marching for 7 ½ hours a day it is akin to meditation, you get a rhythm and your mind is free to wander where it may.  Usually it goes to your life back home; I should see some friends more often.  I should concentrate on certain things in my professional life.  I should concentrate on certain things in my personal life.  I should make sure that we are using this fantastic experience and legacy of Polar Vision as effectively as possible.

We are each building a mental ‘to do’ list that we are keen to start ticking things off as soon as possible.  Although, we are not at the pole yet, we must not get complacent.

It has been a truly memorable life changing experience; the responsibility is on each of us now to use this experience in a positive, productive and meaningful way.  Starting from the day we get home.

Happy new year to all of you, and a healthy, wealthy 2012

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