Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I guess I'm easily distracted, I've been accused of being like Dug in Up. 

Luckily for me, there are no squirrels in Antarctica. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Training Ride

Well, I finally canceled the Monday Spinning classes for the rest of the year. This frees me up to be able to go for longer rides on Monday mornings.

So far the biking I have been doing is mostly just my usual biking except that I am using the fat bike for a lot of rides that normally I would use my road bike or mountain bike. I ride my bike most every day, which keeps me in good enough condition that I can do an 14 hour bike ride without doing any training first.

Anyway, since I woke up at 3am to go riding this morning I think today's ride counts as training. I rode 5 hours and 45 miles on the fat bike this morning. Yeah, not really fast, but that wasn't what I was after. I just wanted to have a fun ride that would last for about 5 hours. Most of it was on the road, but it did include some nice mountain biking trails.

Well, here it is:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Bears Are Out Tonight

Courtesy Mike Dunn, NC State Museum of Natural Sciences
I get a lot of advice from a lot of people. One of the strangest pieces of advice I have received, and surprisingly from several different people, is to take a gun. Why? well, they are afraid I'll be attacked by a polar bear.
I'm always surprised when someone asks about the dangers of polar bears on my trip. There are no polar bears in Antarctica. I thought everyone knew this but I guess not. Polar bears live in the north and penguins live in the south.
Courtesy Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA
So what wildlife can we expect to see during The South Pole Epic? Probably none. Many birds and mammals can be found in Antarctica. However, our expedition starts at Hercules Inlet which although on the "coast" of Antarctica is many miles from open water, and the animals of Antarctica are found near the open water.
Courtesy Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA  

Sunday, April 14, 2013


My dad loves fishing. When we lived in Alaska, he never went anywhere without a fishing pole. When I was around 10 years old, my dad heard of this great place to go fishing in the High Uintas Wilderness Area. His friend gave him instructions on how to get to the trail head. So my dad, brother, and I packed up into the station wagon. We drove through the day and into the night. The final instructions for getting the to the trailhead were to turn onto a dirt road and go up the dirt road as far as you can go in a car, and the trail head will be right there. So when the road got too rough to continue we stopped and camped for the night.

The next morning we woke early and, looking around, could not see any trailhead. My dad figured we turned onto the wrong dirt road, so we decided to continue up the rough road on foot, and work our way to where it seemed we should be. The road really wasn't much of a road, and at times my dad had to take his belt off and use it like a rope so I could climb up some of the small cliffs we were ascending. Finally we arrived on top of a ridge. We could see a basin below with some lakes and figured that is where we were suppose to be. So we dropped off the ridge down into the valley. There was no trail to follow, so we were jumping from large rock to large rock, and climbing over and under fallen trees. Eventually we came to a sign that said Little Dog Lake. Lake is an exaggeration, it was more of a mosquito pond. We tried fishing in the "lake" but I doubt there are any fish in that pond.

At this point we decided the best thing to do would be to go back to the car. We could hear a stream off in the distance and my dad figured that if we kept in hearing distance of the stream and continued down the draw we would end up at the car. We continued bushwhacking and ended up at the car as planned. Then to our surprise we saw a few other cars parked down the road. We had driven about 1/2 mile too far up the road.

We were tired from a long journey with no trail, but my dad loves fishing so much we decided to drop all the gear at the car to lighten our load and take a quick trip up to the lakes. Hiking the actual trail was so easy after what we had been through. We spent a little time fishing and then headed back to the car to camp for the night. The next day we hiked up to the lakes one more time before we had to head home. We figured we hiked about 50 miles that weekend, much of it in rough conditions. I still remember how wonderful the milkshakes were for three very tired, dirty, and I imagine quite stinky guys.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

A picture from one of my Yellowstone trips

Spontaneous Trips

One of my qualities or faults, depending on how you look at it, is that I am very spontaneous. One day I called my wife from work and asked if she would like to go to Europe. I had been told about some real cheap tickets to Europe. So, two days later we were on a flight for Rome. On the plane ride someone asked me where we would be staying. I told them we didn't have any plans. So he told me how to get from the airport to Rome and how to find a hotel. It turned out to be a great trip. Another time I called my wife and asked if she would like to go to Yellowstone. I left work early and we headed out for Yellowstone that night.

View from King's Peak, highest peak in Utah

A Litte More Planning

A week hiking trip to the High Uintas Wilderness Area can be accomplished with a few days of planning. As a young kid and as a teenager we did a lot of backpacking trips in the High Uintas with my Dad. Then as a father I took my son on hiking trips in the High Unitas. He accused me of trying to take him to all the same places my father took me. That wasn't my intent, I was just going to places I knew and loved.

The Journey

This expedition is not one of those spontaneous trips. Obviously, a lot of planning and work is going into making this a successful expedition. Recently we have been working on a mountain biking trail. The trail does have a destination, but it is the journey that makes the trail worth riding. The South Pole Epic has a very specific destination, but really it is about the journey to get there. The planning and the execution is what will make this a memorable event, more so than the final destination.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Do, or Do Not. There is No Try!

As I have been writing and talking about The South Pole Epic I typically talk about how I will do this not now I will attempt to do this. This is intentional. Biking across Antarctica is going to be extremely challenging, not only physically, but also mentally, and emotionally. I need to train for all aspects of the expedition.

Physical Training

The first time I did a 200 mile one day bike ride, I trained all summer for the event. A 100 mile one day mountain bike ride is harder that a 200 mile road bike ride. I have trained for several of those. However, I have gotten to the point that I no longer train for 200 mile road bike, or 100 mile mountain bike rides. I can just hop on the bike and go for that distance. Riding to the South Pole however, is different. I am training for  the South Pole expedition. The sad thing is conditioning is lost quite quickly, so the more intense part of my training will be in the Fall as I get ready for repeated days of being on the bike all day.

Endurance in full sail c. 1915

Mental/Skills Training

There are a lot of things I have to know to complete this expedition. Some of that knowledge comes from life long experiences of outdoor living and winter camping. However this expedition requires extra training. Fortunately I have some great resources available. There is no way I could accomplish this without the Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions. We are also planning other training for polar travel. I'll give more detail on this as things develop.

Emotional Training

And now the real point of this blog entry. When trying to decided whether or not to do this expedition I read the blogs from other explorers. One of the amazing expeditions last season was that of Aaron Lisdau. I believe he set the record for the longest time to cross Antarctica to the South Pole by ski. When I finally decided that I would do this, I decided I wanted to be like Aaron. I want to have an attitude that I will complete this expedition. I fear that talking of the possibility of failure makes it easier to quit. Yes, there is a possibility that we don't succeed in our expedition to the South Pole. However, I think the expedition will be amazing no matter the outcome. One of the amazing stories of Antarctic expeditions is that of Shackleton's "failed" expedition.

A Mind Game

One of my faults is that I don't know when to quit. When it comes to this expedition I believe that fault becomes and advantage. However, my normal tendency to continue in spite of the conditions may not be enough. So, I am playing a bit of a mind game with myself. I am intentionally building an attitude of continuing as long as even the remotest possibility of success still exists. Quitting just can not be an option. So I am fostering in myself the belief that I will succeed. There will be some who will say the challenge is too hard, that for some reason I am not worthy of such an expedition. That is fine, they can believe what they want, but I must believe that I will complete the expedition.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Other Training

I get asked a lot about what I do to train for this expedition. There are obvious things like training for the physical work, training for the cold, and training for hazards like crevasses.

But there are other less obvious things I've been doing for training. One is writing in me journal. I don't have very good hand writing. But I want a good journal of the expedition. I have been working on my writing and journal keeping skills. Today I decided to switch from pen to pencil. Ink may not work well in the super cold of the Antarctic.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Frozen Desert

Antarctic is the largest desert in the world. It gets, on average, 6.5" of precipitation per year. At the South Pole it only gets 2 inches per year. The driest place on earth is the dry valleys of Antarctica which get no precipitation. These valleys are the closest thing on earth to Mars. My father's friend died here while doing research to detect life on Mars.The unique conditions in the Dry Valleys are caused, in part, by katabatic winds; these occur when cold, dense air is pulled downhill by the force of gravity. The winds can reach speeds of 200 mph evaporating all water, ice and snow.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

In a huge twist of irony, the ice of Antarctica has 70% of the worlds fresh water. This will be far different from the hot desert  trips on the White Rim and Kokopelli Trails. On those trips we had to bring all the water we would use with us. On the South Pole Epic we will melt ice to get the water we need.