Sitting here in Oslo Norway the past few days waiting for our flight back to the States we had the opportunity to rest, recharge and go to the Polar Museum in town as Norway has one of the most storied reputations for Arctic and Antarctic exploration in the world.
Adventurers such as Amundsen, the first to reach the south pole and cross the Northwest Passage, and Nansen, famous for his expedition to the north polar icecap in the ship named Fram which was frozen into the ice intent on floating with the drifting icecap both hail from here.
After experiencing the unrelenting cold as we did, we were humbled to see what those early explorers endured. They were either cut from a different cloth, or nuts. What they did was incredible.
I figure we can wrap this up with answers to the most common questions we were asked, prior, during, and since we started this thing.
By far the most common question was, and is, about.... Well I will try and be delicate.... Basic human functions. One really simple and quick answer, very, very quickly. Everyone is different, but once you get on your schedule you hoped that the weather and cold would make it easy for you. Generally you would find a nice ice boulder to provide a nice little wind block, but mostly, modesty should be overlooked if the situation dictates. By far one of the most common causes of frostbite is a person trying to be too thorough or take too long doing their thing. There was a member in another shorter trip that got very severe frostbite on his second day out. He was evacuated obviously. I have the pictures of his injury, it was not pretty.
Second question was about hygiene. Basically, you did nothing. I would make efforts to smear on frozen deodorant every couple of days, but, it was by far too cold to do much else. We were all good about using antibacterial on our hands every night before sharing food, and Mike would make efforts to defrost and hand out one wet wipe each night so we could clean our hands further and wipe our face after eating. We thought it very cultured and would thank Mike as we wiped the corners of our mouth after each meal.
While we took more clothing than we needed, changing was difficult, cold, and unneccessary. Unless the clothing was wet, it stayed on until bedtime where you would strip out of extra layers while in your bag and quickly put them on in the morning straight from your bag while they were still warm. This would have been made even easier if Mikes Polar Bag Invention had worked.
In regards to food and water. Breakfast was usually the little Breakfast Delights CP would make for us each morning rather than the oatmeal. The Breakfast Delights (which were named by us) were two pieces of Pita Bread fried in butter with sausage and cheese slapped in the middle. They were delicious and warm and with the exception of the Stormy days we would anxiously await the loud "CACAAA" from CP announcing that they were ready. We made CP make this chicken noise as we found it funny, not just the noise, but the fact that he would willingly do it. And yes, he was involved in the joke. Mike and I would do a quick paper sissors rock to see who would brave the cold to go get them. Was a good way to start each day.
Lunches were protein bars, peanuts, beef jerky and candy bars which we carried close to our body each day. They were still frozen, but not as badly if left in our backpack. We would nibble these throughout the day to keep our calories. I will admit, i was bad about eating my lunches.
Dinner was a grab bag of soup and freeze dried meals. Spagetti was my favorite, but anything other than the beef stew was everyone choice. Felt like losing a contest of stay alive if you got the stew, but you would eat it anyway.
I believe Mikes favorite meals were the ones he spilled on the tent floor as he seemed to do it so often I assumed that was how he prefered them.
Hopefully our flights remain on schedule and the remaining team on the ice makes it to the pole and home safely.