By Chris Powell
Some people take the holidays to an extreme. Houses with enough lights to illuminate an airport runway, presents purchased and wrapped before Halloween, ugly sweater parties planned – you know the drill. Me? I’m channeling my inner Jack Frost this weekend by taking a polar training session.
As I prepare for a South Pole expedition, I thought it might be a good idea to experience what cold really feels like. So I’m heading to Norway for a three-day trek into Santa’s backyard (really, a few hours south of Oslo, but close enough). While I won’t be dashing through the snow, I will be hiking in temperatures ranging from -10 to -30 C.
The goal of the training is to teach me how to acclimate to the freezing conditions, as well as how to use equipment properly so not get frostbite, blisters or worse, injuries. Then, I’ll be putting on my skis and hauling my sled through the mountains. I’ve been informed that in addition to Arctic conditions and winds, I will be faced with traversing and navigating myself over frozen lakes, snow covered terrain and rugged overland portages. In addition, I’ll need to master a variety of winter camping skills.
But there’s more. Not only is there physical training, mental agility plays a large part in a successful polar expedition. My Norwegian trainers have informed me that to be truly prepared for the South Pole, you need the right gear and the right mindset. True explorers exercise humility, patience, thoroughness, self-awareness and team-awareness.
So this weekend, as I take my polar trek, Robert Swan and his son, Barney, will be on day 18 of their Clean Energy Challenge expedition to the South Pole. By the time I join them in January, they will be on their 45th day. Follow their remarkable journey and check out photos and on Twitter @robertswan2041
To say this is overwhelming would be an understatement. This is a challenge I never thought I would undertake, and while daunting, it’s exhilarating. As excited as I am, I know I have to take this weekend of walking in a winter wonderland very seriously so I’m not left out in the cold. Literally.
As I have been told, “There are no short cuts in the cold.”