Our team is gathering in Punta Arenas threes days. Terry and Bengt are already there, while Karl will arrive this morning. Christian is already in Antarctica as he will fist climb Mt Vinson (the highest mountain in Antarctica and one of the Seven Summits).
Punta Arenas is the gateway to Antarctica for most expedition heading into this extraordinary continent. No other place on earth is as cold, as windswept, has the same elevation or is as islolated. Our season lasts for just a few (summer) months. The rest of the year ii remains closed and iced down.
This year marks the 99th anniversary of Amundsen’s conquring of the Geographical South Pole. Our team plan to get a head start on the celebrations next year in trying to reach the South Pole on the same date as Amundsen – the 14th of December.
But, before we get that far there is work to be done in Punta. Our experienced Polar team leader, Bengt Rotmo, is down there with the Terry and Karl to pack, control and prepare for the flight in on the 3rd December. Hundreds and hundreds of details are being checked as the scramble to get ready upon them.
I was born in Punta Arenas (Chile) in 1961 , were my grandfather arrived from Norway back in 1904 when he was 13 years old , so I am second Chilean generation, but don’t expect me to talked Norwegian since I have not even learn a word .
Then I moved to Santiago when I was 14, and finish my business university studies here. I been working in the salmon farming business for 25 years, while the last 13 in EWOS a norwegian own company (Cermaq). In 1986 I married María Eugenia (Quena) and we have 4 boys (22, 20 and twins 14).
The outdoor life and sports has been my hobby , and we all enjoy skiing and hiking in the Andes, and that’s probably together with the fact that I lived so close to the south pole why I got so excited about going there first time Borge O. talked to me during one of his visit to Chile.
My expectation is to find the limit, I have always enjoy to set a goal, doesn’t matter how far or difficult it is, but to plan, train and worked toward that goal is so excited that my blood run faster and harder, and that is what keep me motivated.
This time the goal is not only hard and need a lot of preparation, but also dangerous that’s why I strongly relay in my team to keep the spirit high so we all get the necessary strength to get to the finish save and happy.
I have lived and worked in Asia for the past 20 years helping to run a company that sells products and services for interior fitout. The company conducts business in all parts of Asia and the Middle East and that means I travel a lot. My wife and daughter recently relocated to Perth, Australia and now I spend as much time as I can with them.
When I tell people I am going to the South Pole the first question that many ask is "Why". The answer is complicated. Perhaps it is:
* to reward myself for getting to 60.
* to prove I can still do it.
* because of a mid-life crisis that has lasted 15 years (so far).
* because I want to go somewhere where there are no tourists, no mobile phones and no emails. * because I want to get the necessary experience to walk to the North Pole later. * because I am bored and need a new challenge.
* because I like to set goals for myself.
* because Everest is too crowded.
* all of the above. I will figure it out while I am on the trip.
I have no relevant experience in the cold or on skis. I have trained hard for 12 months roller skiing and pulling "Tommy the tyre" around in the tropics and in the temperate Perth climate. I hope the one week cross-country ski training in Australia will suffice.
I expect pain and maybe tears. I expect flat, monotonous, white, open spaces that will play with my head. I expect sore feet. I hope my travelling companions will wait for me and not leave me behind.
MARIT FIGENSCHOU (56)
Marit is Norwegian, lives in Oslo and has a boy friend, Øyvind.
She is educated as a political scientist. Works as a project manager in the company Cappelen Damm.
She ha suffered from cancer, has arthritis and osteoporosis and is 50 % handicapped.
She grew up in Lyngen in the middle of the Lyngen Alps. That gave her the taste for vertical challenges. After the cancer diagnosis i 1998 Marit became very conscious of realising her dreams. Talking to Norwegian Polar legend Sjur Mørdre in 2002 has been the most important inspiration to believe that anything is possible if you really want it. She has climbed 7 mountains above 5000 metres: Aconcagua, Cerro Bonete, Margherita Peak, Mt Kenya, Kilimanjaro, Denali and Elbrus. In 2007 she crossed Finland on skis.
Future plans: more high mountains.
CHRISTIAN EIDE (35)
Expedition leader. He has his own adventure company (Latitude AS) but work closely with Børge and Lars at Ousland Polar Explorations.
Christian is educated Master of Engineering - lives together with Silje.
He has been looking forward to this trip to Antarctica and the South Pole with good friends.
The past years he has climbed, walked, been skiing and tracked most parts of the world. Christian is a restless soul. This year he has climbed Carstensz Pyramid (New Guinea), climbed Gunnbjørns Fjeld (highest Arctic Mountain) in Greenland and skied twice across Greenland. Before this "Last Degree" trip to the South Pole he has been on Mt. Wincent. Before Christmas he will set out for a long solo trip to the South Pole.