Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tales From The Empty Quarter

Yesterday I shared a video teaser for a documentary film coming out later this year called Into The Empty Quarter. The film follows adventurers Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron as they follow in the footsteps of the famous explorer Wilfred Thesiger on a 1000 mile (1600 km) journey across the Empty Quarter – a massive desert that stretches over parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. We'll have to wait until this fall for our opportunity to see the movie but we can learn more about that journey now thanks to a story written for The Clymb by Alastair himself. 

The article, which you'll find by clicking here, provides plenty of insight into what it is like to trek through one of the hottest and harshest environments on the planet. The two men were inspired to attempt their expedition due to tales of Thesiger's exploits in the region, and Alastair says he had been planning such a journey for more than 15 years. In truth, he was probably dreaming about the Empty Quarter since he was a child and he first learned of the British explorer's exploits. 

Alastair and Leon knew that in order to make the trek on foot they would need to get creative. So, they built a homemade cart that was capable of carrying all of their gear and supplies, and most importantly their water. When fully loaded, that cart weighed nearly 700 pounds (317 kg) and the two men spent just one day training with it before leaving for their start in Oman. 

Just a few hours into their epic journey Alastair and Leon discovered that their cart was practically useless. When loaded with all of their supplies, it was nearly impossible to steer. The entire adventure was in jeopardy before they even truly got underway. They spent three days looking for a fix and for someone that could help them implement it. When they did, they were able to launch the expedition in ernest and what followed was at time glorious and heartbreaking, exhilarating and exhausting and inspiring and frustrating all at the same time. 

Read Alastair's account to get the fully story and you'll have a greater appreciation for what they accomplished. It'll also get you more excited to see the documentary when it is released in a few months too. 

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