Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 21: Not much happened today... but that's good!

86:39.910S 82:20.341W

Elevation: 1892 metres, up only 56 from yesterday.

Firstly, I have today received your blog comments from Dominique... Gee, it's just fantastic reading all your support, views, questions, etc.... I'm overwhelmed, and you have no idea how motivating they all are for me. THANK YOU, but also what I see is that we have a great joint adventure on the go... A special team, it's wonderful! Glad you guys are enjoying it, I'm really loving having you along, it's raising the whole experience to an unprecedented level! I'll try and answer your questions in the postings, as appropriate.

Well it 'would have' been a new record today, but I ended up stopping 1/2 hour early, as foot was starting to pain big time, and I thought best to stop, before damage. Anyway, a great 30.1 km done for the day.

Today was a REAL 'no event' day The weather was amazing, no wind all day, blue sky, and relatively warm, but the terrain was monotonously boring, unlike yesterday. I guess in all this vastness, I can expect a few days like this. They are very mentally challenging though....! Better than fog, blizzard, etc, so I am DEFINITELY not complaining!

The main event was that I had to have a pooh along the ski! Very unusual, maybe I'm eating too much! Anyway it sounds liike a pretty non-event, but it isn't: First the build up to the decision, as I don't really want to have to stop, but it gets clearer and clearer that I won't last out until camp at end of day. So once the decision is made, a suitable sastrugi must be found...One that has 'access' and a 'cavity' that can be covered in afterwards by collapsing the sastrugi mound, as my shovel is not readily accessible... Can't leave such an unsightly 'foreign object' in pristine Antarctica. It just doesn't seem rright!

Found it, now the hardwork starts: park the sled, remove and drop my poles, unclip and take off backpack, remove skis, remove outer mitts, so one sort of has fngers again, store mitts, remove hands-free compass from around neck... Oh, it's entangled with the GPS neck chord... Hmm, swearing!

Next it's off with windsuit top, so I can access trouser braces, hmmm, it's quite cold, time to move fast, hope nobody is watching....! Then drop trousers, facing away from the light wind, but right over the chosen sastrugi cavity! Now the easy part: having the pooh! Perfect accuracy, all that remains is to break over the sastrugi so it falls over the now 'spoiled' cavity, and everything looks natural and born here again. Then it's putting all the stuff back on, and some 15 minutes later I'm back skiing! (My pants do have a real access velcro fastened flap, but this isn't good for me.) So, I'll try not have too do that again... Planning the body hey!

On a not too disimilar vein: Many of you will know this, but it is one of the things about cold weather outdoor activities that drives me nuts, sometimes I could almost cry I get so 'useless': As it gets colder one has to put more layers on, layers of trousers, layers of tops, and layers of gloves / mitts. Well each layer makes things more complex, and you more 'useless' trying to help yourself, and you also start feeling like clumsy Michelin man! I get so frustrated not being able to do a simple 'bare finger' task, as my mitts get in the way, or I have no fingers to undo something... Sounds simple, but when you have all this gear on, it's because it's REALLY cold, and that's when you need things done quickly so you aren't standing still, getting cold... And so too much fumbling around and a cold spiral begins! Not fun, specially for my impatience!

It is a BEAUTIFUL evening out here 'tonight', totally stilll, wind and sound, the sun is streaming onto my tent so it's warm inside, and solar panel charge rate is at max, I have unlimited suply of the purest water around, this is free living!

Interestingly, I decided to not bring any artificial 'boredom distractors' along, eg iPOD, MP3, etc. I love music, and reading books, but on all my adventures I have a golden rule that says I'm JUST going to deal with the environment 'one on one', as naked as possible, so I can listen to 'Nature', experience it, and take it all in... I can listen to my iPOD anywhere, anyday, but I can't listen to Antarctica often. The so called 'boredom' is part of the whole experience that I signed up for, why try annd selectively screen it out. I feel very strongly about this, and have huge debates with some who wants to listen to books while they ski or bicycle, or whatever.... Each too their own, but I will not go there, and find that what happens is my senses get more sensitive and deliver an even deeper experience.

So continueing the 'Not Wasting Life' thread from yesterday: (it will take a few days to get through this. That's if you haven't got disillusioned along the way!)

In our lives we have what I call our 'signiificant activities', those 3-5 things where we spend most of our time in a year. So look back on your last year and try and come up with those 3-5. These aren't the functional things, like eat, sleep, hygiene, etc. For most 'normal' life people, they maybe things like, work, nurture a relationship(s), participate in extramural activity, enertainment, etc... You must get the list down to no more than 3-5, capturing where you spend your time.

Now where we spend significant time we obviously do it for a reason, either we just love doing it, or we do it for a desired outcome, or both reasons.

So for each of the 3-5 think through why you do the activity? Then...

Ask yourself, firstly: Does your soul 'feel good' everyday (or most days) you do the activity? We all know when our soul feels good, I'm not expanding more on that! But are you happy, passionate, excited regularly by the activity?

If your answer is "YES", you are not wasting your life in that activity, but unless you have a "Yes" answer for the next question you may not be achieving the most worthwhile personal life value out of that activity.

The second question is:

Do you HIGHLY value the potential outcome / product / result of continuing the activity? Will this outcome give you Personal Height? Remember all these activities have some interim, ongoing or end 'result'... Including nurturing relationships etc.

If you answer "Yes" as well to this question, then you DEFINITELY aren't wasting your life in this area, and are actually on the purpose Holy Grail path - ie you love what you do, and the OUTCOME of doing it is highly valued, and will give you Personal Height.

'No' answers for both questions for an activity clearly point to a serious 'Wasting Life' situation. You need to make big change and soon!

A "No" for question 1, but a "Yes" for question 2, puts you in a high risk of wasting your life situation - i.e. you don't like what you do 'each day', but you want the end point outcome from the day's activity. This is often unsustainable, and happiness / satisfaction is too linked to the end goal, so if the end goal isn't achieved, 'you' would have wasted your life in this area... Let's take the activity of 'Work': I meet many who hate their jobs (ie a 'No' for question 1), yet need the monthly, annual, etc, income it provides, or are waiting for stock options to expire, etc (a 'yes' for question 2). These people are on a fine line between wasting their lives or not.

This two question test is equally applicable to a mother raising kids as it is to a businessman or an adventurer like me... I have tested the concept across these vastly different people with different 3-5 life actiivities, and the 'wasting life' principle applied across all...

Not sure if this all makes sense.... I'll add a last piece tomorrow, once I've thought about what I have written here on the big walk tomorrow!

Gee, I never thought I'd get into all this while out here, but I guess it's the freedom of thought and meditation time that facilitates it... One of you insightfully picked up that we don't do enough thinking / meditating, well this adventure and my way of life in general offers me a huge amount! In fact one of my 3-5 life activities is ' Thinking', by my own lifestyle design... Now isn't that cool or bloody weird?

Ok, cheers again.

PS: It was a year ago, my 1st ex wife, Trish, died of cancer, and my thoughts are with many of my followers who were close to her. I have other friends fighting with cancer and dealing with their own more extreme solo South Pole challenge...To them I wish you all the strength and courage to win the battle.


  1. Howard.

    Only you could segue from a blow by blow account of an "Antarctic Dump" to doling out guidelines for achieving more life fulfillment.

    You crack me up - I can see your earnest expressions as if you're talking about it all right in front of me.

    Most excellent. Stay strong.

    Highest regards.


    P.S. Does piss freeze mid flow? :D


  3. Hi Howard,30kms is good, but your foot is of concern. Talk nicely to it and ask it to cooperate with the rest of your body to get you to the South Pole asap!!
    In terms of the bigger questions, i would ask, what are we doing for our family, friends and community. Equally importantly, what are we contributing to the ecosystem Earth that sustains all life. Are we nett givers or takers?? I am not as confident as you are in my own feelings about these issues. I suspect we need the challenges of those around us, to protect us from self-deceipt!! It's a fine balance!
    i am inclined to agree with your comments about Ipods etc.. but when i heard that Pliny the Elder, from ancient Rome, who contributed so much to the well being of his fellow Romans, had people read books to him while he was in the bath, or being carried through the streets of Rome... i have second thoughts on this issue... a thirst for knowledge that serves others is a good thing and yet we defiintley need time out to calm the brain!!
    Have another great day. warmest wishes patrick

  4. Hi Howard
    Thanks for the philosophy! looking forward to tomorrows missive!

  5. Howard, great to be reading your blog at home having got out of hospital on Friday night - being confined to a small room for a week gave it an extra dimension. All the best, James and love from Paola

    PS I think your pooh may have gone viral.

  6. Howard....what fun to share your most personal 'movement' and philosphy. Now a cynic would say that the two are connected.
    But, hey, you do provide food for thought.
    Look forward to tomorrows 'deep' stuff but also hope that your foot improves.
    take care....peter and pat

  7. Hi Howard,
    30,1km,early stop by 30 minutes-hard core.Well done!! Watch that foot,consistency probably the trick need to look after it.Great description of the event.Support your idea idea of living & experiencing the moment without distractions.Yes & yes I like the two questions.Nice thought on Trish & mates.Visiting a mate tomorrow who has 3 months.Focus ,part of the plan!Travel safe & look after the paws..

  8. Howard, I don't see my comment from yesterday so am going to repeat. I wanted to get the message to you about what a wonderful decision I thought you made about not taking along an Ipod, books, or games on your march so you could experience every moment. This is living in the present and I think your experience is going to be more authentic! It's how I would do it. I actually shouted a "YES!" when I read it. I'm happy that you had the insight to this and then actually went through with it, especially going solo. You are a champinon!

  9. Howard, I don't see my comment from yesterday so am going to repeat. I wanted to get the message to you about what a wonderful decision I thought you made about not taking along an Ipod, books, or games on your march so you could experience every moment. This is living in the present and I think your experience is going to be more authentic! It's how I would do it. I actually shouted a "YES!" when I read it. I'm happy that you had the insight to this and then actually went through with it, especially going solo. You are a champinon!