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The Journey Begins: Understanding the Challenge

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

To say I will be out of my element would be a gross understatement. The South Pole is

located on Antarctica, a vast, unspoiled continent that has inspired and challenged

explorers for centuries. While being a place of beauty and mystery, I am conscious of the

challenges I face. Despite the South Pole being only about 100 meters above sea level,

the ice sheet above it is roughly 2,700-meters (9,000-feet) thick, an altitude I will have

to get acclimated to. This elevation also makes the South Pole one of the coldest places

on earth. While I won’t encounter Polar Bears, I will face other risks being in this

environment such as hypothermia and weight loss. It is as clear as day, I will be stepping

into unfamiliar territory. However, understanding the challenges posed by such

formidable landscape is only the beginning. My expedition itself is no mere feat and

requires not only vast physical preparation to ensure my body is ready, but

development of a very particular set of skills to enable me to complete my journey.

My expedition is known as “Ski the Last Degree”. The Last Degree is the journey over the

last latitude of distance to the South Pole from 89° South. The actual distance is 60

nautical miles being 111km/69mi; and I will be doing this on cross country skis while

hauling a sled (that can weigh anywhere from 30-50kg) carrying all the essentials I need

to survive. To complete this expedition, not only do I need to be in peak physical

condition, but I need to have the mental strength and stamina to trek for several hours a

day for days on end. I must also be extremely vigilant to regulate factors such as my

food and hydration levels to ensure I have sufficient energy to complete the journey; all

the while being wary of the harsh conditions that I will encounter along the way.

To put things into perspective: I grew up in Hawaii and so have never experienced snow

or gone skiing; I have not exercised in over 20 years; my caloric intake is 1/3 of where it

needs to be if I am to gain bulk to counteract weight loss; not to mention, my

background is as far away from adventure activities as one can think possible. It is very

clear that I have my work cut out for me. However, understanding the expectations, the

requirements to succeed and remembering my “why?” will help me recruit the right

team and kickstart my journey.

In my next blog, I reveal not only the steps I have taken to provide me with the tools and

training I need to succeed but give a glimpse into what my daily life has been like since

my physical training began. Stay tuned!

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