Saturday, April 5, 2008

Don't Count On Global Warming That Much

About 7 years ago, Ben Saunders of London decided that he was going to become the fastest man to walk solo to the North Pole. Now, a lot of times when something like this is "solo", it means by yourself, but also with a film crew, five spotters, twelve sherpas, two helicopters, a couple of doctors and at least three yaks. When this guy said "solo", he meant solo. Totally alone. No crew. No docs. Definitely no yaks.
North PoleSeven years is a long time to get ready for something. Seven years is also a long time to think about all of the possible obstacles that one could possibly run into when walking to the North Pole. So in those seven years, the guy figured out he was going to start in Canada somewhere and walk about 400 miles (that's outdoors) until he reached the North Pole and when he got there it would have been faster than anyone else. (Did I mention the part about the North Pole? I did? Just checking. He's going to the North Pole. Got that? OK. Continue.) He managed to work all of that out. I wonder if he ever felt like he was forgetting about something?
North Pole
Sadly, I must tell you that his attempt failed and came to an sudden abrupt end when Mr. Saunders encountered conditions that were apparently unforseen and that he must not have taken into consideration when preparing for this adventure. What were the conditions that he found on his walk to the North Pole that forced him to stop? That would be all of the ice.

Yes. Surprise! There is ICE on your way to the North Pole! Shocking, I know! Imagine how this guy must have felt when the bolts that attached the bindings of his boots to his skis were sheared off by the ice and cold. Yeah, that's pretty cold. As one might expect it would be in the general vicinity of the North Pole. Well, if you're anyone but him! He clearly put way too much stock in that whole "global warming" thing I keep hearing about.
Ben Saunders North PoleHe stated that, "The ice conditions I have encountered have been the worst I have ever seen, and worse that I could have imagined." I'm sure that it was worse than he "could have imagined." But, you know, some people are now saying that, due to the advances in the Internet and in, um, books, that you really don't have to totally rely on your imagination when trying to forsee the degree of frozen-ness you might encounter if you're walking to the North Pole. No, see, apparently, you can actually do research on things like this these days and find out what sort of conditions you will be encountering. And after you find all of that stuff out, then you can plan and prepare accordingly. Yep. The modern world. It's amazing, isn't it? (Well, it is for those of us who know how to use it!)

He also commented that his, "...forced halt due to an equipment failure is incredibly disappointing, particularly as I am still in excellent physical condition." And while I'm glad that the man has his health, even an excellent physical condition will not help you 100% in this situation unless you happen to be a polar bear. What you need is for your equipment to be excellent. If you can't go anywhere without the proper equipment, then your physical abilities are really not even a factor. You could be that big ol' guy down in Mexico, whose physique would probably benefit him in this situation (given all of the layers and all), but if you can't walk because the cold and the ice broke your skis, none of that matters!

How does one spend SEVEN years getting ready for something and then, come to find out, they weren't ready for the one most basic, most obvious, most glaring obstacle of the whole ordeal?! The ice! If I'm going to the North Pole and I'm making a list of things to deal with, number one on my list is "The ICE". (Number two would be "My coldness" and number three would be "Learn how to spear fish.")

He should have brought the yaks, if you're asking me.
North Pole Moon

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