(Correne Coetzer) With only 3 people who have skied from the coast of Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole and back with no resupplies or wind/dog/motor support, no American has done it. Aaron Linsdau wants to be the first from the US.
For many years Linsdau wanted to go to Antarctica until he now finalized his plan, one that “has grown to epic proportions”, he says to ExplorersWeb. The challenge: a return journey from the coast at Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole and back; a distance of 2260 km in a straight line. Linsdau will be solo, which implicates no assistance through resupplies by plane or vehicle, and he will also not take kites for wind support.
During the 2011-12 SP season Aleksander Gamme (solo) and James Castrission and Justin Jones completed this journey. Aaron followed their blogs and videos with deep interest. He tells more:
ExplorersWeb: Why an expedition like this?
Aaron: Skiing from the coast to the pole and back under limited time is probably the greatest distance challenge on the planet. Up until last year, no one has succeeded in the round trip. I will be first American to do it. I have been wanting to travel to Antarctica for many years and, over time, the scale of what I will do there has grown to epic proportions.
ExplorersWeb: What is your polar ski background? What preparations have you done for this expedition?
Aaron: I have trekked the Arctic Circle Trail solo in Greenland in 2008 in October, meaning I trudged through the tundra, in snow, and crossed semi-frozen rivers. Over the past three years, I have skied through and around Yellowstone in preparation for this expedition, experiencing polar temperatures and tough ski conditions.
In 2009, my ski system failed in Yellowstone on day 2, so I snowshoed the entire 105 miles from the north to the south entrance. I found my new Hilleberg Nammatj 2 tent to be a fortress this past season in Yellowstone.
ExplorersWeb: You still have 5 months to prepare, what do you have to work on during these next months?
Aaron: My preparations are continually ongoing. The number one priority is to make sure I'm physically fit. Even though equipment, sponsorship, and the like are important, if my body isn't ready, then this is all for naught.
I'm in contact with HumanEdgeTech for communications gear and they have been very helpful.
I will add fresh skis to my two sleds, as I learned that anything I can do to cut drag makes life better.
My website, as well as my blog, are in need of continual updating as things progress.
ExplorersWeb: Have you got advice/mentorship from experienced polar skiers? If yes, who?
Aaron: Todd Carmichael provided useful information for getting to the Pole, as he suffered greatly during his expedition. He looked like he had a very good time, though! I will be in contact with other skiers shortly.
ExplorersWeb: You have probably followed the return-teams this past season. What have you learned from them?
Aaron: From the video and photo clips from both Cas & Jonesy and Gamme, I learned that they had a really tough time for the first part of their trip up the polar plateau. Making sure I have a plan to deal with soft snow will be very important.
Gamme's blog hinted that he felt he wasn't going to make the trip and yet he was able to make up the miles on the back side. The most important lesson I learned from both teams by following their blogs, is to keep cheery and put in the miles up front. Trying to make the distance at the end is miserable and the risk is substantially heightened.
ExplorersWeb: What is your game plan?
Aaron: At the end of June, I will be moving to Jackson, WY, to continue my training. Right now I live in Carlsbad, CA, and really, it's just not that tough here. The hills are great for towing, running and riding but sunny and 72°F at 300 ft elevation isn't going to toughen me.
I want the altitude and bad weather of the Rockies to both mentally and physically prepare me. In the 2nd week of October, I will return to San Diego to make final preparations and then ship out from there. All the while, I will be drumming up support from sponsors.
ExplorersWeb: This is a pretty long way with not much input on the senses. What will keep you going day after day with endless white horizons around you?
Aaron: I have been debating this for some time. Weight is a critical factor for me, so anything that is unnecessary can be detrimental and distracting. The 2008 Happy Feet expedition made the Messner start ski-all-the-way in 25 days because they cut weight to the bare minimum, among other things. If anything, I'll bring along my player and enjoy a few audio books.
ExplorersWeb: What are you looking forward to?
Aaron: Being removed from the daily intrusion, noise and constant barrage of normal society. I love my 330 million American brothers and sisters, but sometimes you just have to get away. Whenever I'm gone for more than 5 days in the wilderness, the daily stress melts away and the essentials of life come into focus.
As every blog on polar expedition has shown, going and attempting this trip is life changing. Captain Kirk said, “Then this will be your big chance to get away from it all.”
Expedition dates according to Linsdau: Hercules Inlet start Nov. 2, 2012, end Jan. 25, 2013.
Aaron Linsdau will be turning 39 during this expedition on Antarctica on December 23rd. “It's not quite a milestone year but I don't want to wait any longer,” he says to ExWeb.
He enjoys spending time with his family and friends most of all. “The Sierras always call my name and you can find me up there several times a year if I'm not preparing for a large-scale expedition. Otherwise, I run, ride both on and off road, and weight lift to keep in shape. Photography, sailing, snorkeling, hiking and international travel are all interests and hobbies of mine.”
Aaron is doing this trip to help raise awareness for prostate cancer and have teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation. “My father developed the cancer and, though he survived it, it changed his life. When you get that phone call that someone close to you has cancer, it alters your world perspective,” he says.
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