Wednesday, January 07, 2015

10 Things No One Tells You Before an Antarctic Expedition

While the Antarctic expedition season begins to wind down on the frozen continent, we still have a few more weeks before it is wrapped up completely. The final teams are on approach to the South Pole, and soon almost everyone will be heading home for the year. If you've ever wondered what it like to be out on the ice for weeks at a time, than a recent article posted by the The Telegraph in the U.K. will be of interest. It is entitled "Ten things no one tells you before an Antarctic expedition", and it is chocked full of interesting insights.

The piece was written by polar explorer Patrick Woodhead, who was part of the first team to complete an east-to-west traverse of Antarctica. During that expedition, he spent 75 days out on the ice, covering 1850 km (1149 miles) on foot. In other words, if anyone knows what it is like to live in Antarctica for days on end, it is Patrick.

You'll have to read the entire article to see his detailed description of each of the ten things that no one told him before he set out on his adventure in Antarctica. But here is the complete list from one to ten.


  1. You're going to have to eat a lot of raw butter.
  2. Washing is a painful experience.
  3. Take it one step at a time.
  4. Choose your companions carefully. You may have to eat them.
  5. Going Mental.
  6. The tent is a surprisingly nice place to be.
  7. Take a notebook and pencil. 
  8. Frostbite is about sweat, genetics, and experience. 
  9. Expect delays. 
  10. Re-entry. 
Some of those are fairly self-explanatory, but others benefit from Patrick sharing his own experiences out on the ice. For instance, he mentions that while on his expeditions he was burning 7000-9000 calories per day, hence the reason for eating the raw butter. At first it was "revolting," but later his body craved the fat content and he ate it "like blocks of cheese." 

If you're thinking about doing your own expedition to the South Pole, or just wonder what it would be like, this is definitely worth spending a few minutes going over. You'll more than likely learn something about an Antarctic expedition and gain new respect for those who have traveled there. 

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