By early September, your expedition will be confirmed, your fund-raising should be complete, your logistics fee paid and your travel arrangements in place. All the stress of the past 12 months, wondering if you are even going to make it to the start line should be behind you and you can finally take a deep breath and really focus on the expedition ahead. ALE’s Hannah McKeand gives some tips to follow, as you get ready to head to the ice.
You should be well into following your training regime and just now in the last few weeks before your departure you should be putting in some really long days of sustained exercise. Try to get out for at least 8 hours a couple of times a week, hiking with a pack or dragging your tire. This will give you a really good idea of how your body is going to respond to the long days of sled-hauling on the ice.
Now is also the time to really start upping your food intake. It is really important that you try to gain some extra body weight now, since it is quite possible that you will lose 20-30lbs over the course of your expedition. Increase your intake of fats such as butter and olive oil as this will pile on some pounds and acclimatize your digestion to the high levels of fat that you will eat on the expedition.
On the subject of food – purchase any special foods (treats) that you want to take down to the ice with you. Be sure to tell your team mates what you are taking and ask if they would like some too. Nothing causes disgruntlement more than food envy in the middle of a long hard expedition! Be aware that Chile has very strict regulations regarding the importation of fruits, vegetables, meats and other food products.
Go through your gear and clothing thoroughly. Check back through your lists to make sure that you have everything that you need and that has been recommended by ALE.
You may be away for up to three months, so make arrangements for all your things at home, be it pets, bills, post, garden, friends, family and business. You will find it easier to focus on your expedition knowing that these are all taken care of.
Make sure that you have left ALE’s contact details with your closest friends and family and provide ALE with a list of authorized contacts. ALE will only give out information about you to people who you have authorized.
Get downloading talking books onto your MP3 player. Music really doesn’t cut it as a distraction for long periods of time on the ice, talking books are absolutely the way to go. I always download some weighty classics that I know I won’t ever pick up and read in the busy real world. They are always a good listen – classics are classics for good reason.
Finally, start to think about the journey ahead. You will spend 40 or 50 days travelling across the biggest bit of emptiness on the planet. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is going to be hard, sometimes it is going to hurt and sometimes it will be downright boring, Whenever those things happen, look around you and take in the bigger picture. Prepare yourself to savor those moments, to treasure every step and every vast empty vista, because to travel on Antarctica is one of the greatest honors and one of the profoundest, most humbling experiences you will ever have and you will never experience anything like it ever again.