Polar Packing
Polar Packing
Posted by Martin Hartley

Thursday, 15 Jan 2009 00:00

On the surface of it nothing much seemed to happen today, (although a lot did get done) nothing of any note nor anything particularly memorable actually happened.

The three of us, Ann, Pen and myself spent the whole day packing our sledges for a miniature four day version of the looming 'very big' expedition that departs in mid February.

The only part of the expedition that is not an out and out team effort is the packing of the sledge.  For three people to spend a whole day ‘packing’ for a four day camping trip does seem disproportionate, and to say that to pack a polar sledge with the correct equipment takes years of hard won experience seems even more so. But no, it is not. Everything that goes into the sledge has a life preserving function. The greatest joy when packing a sledge is to be found in a piece of equipment that does two jobs; a ski that also serves as a tent peg, or a snow shovel that can be used as a paddle, the sledge itself has been designed to glide across both snow and water with relative ease. Pen's sledge, unlike any other Polar sledge that has gone before it, does not have any of the usual Polar equipment at all.


Pen in fact has spent most of the day sharing his load with Ann and I, because Pen is pulling an ice penetrating radar, satellite data uplink system, a hands free voice communications hub, two on-board sledge computers, a huge battery power supply, several ice drills and a water column sensor which, like everything above, sounds small but actually weighs 13 pounds.

The packing 'day' of a polar sledge no matter how long the journey is always filled with 'faff' and self denial from start to finish as nobody really wants to leave the comfort of a warm home knowing the next night will be spent outside in the darkest of campsites in the frigid embrace of the polar night...nobody. Scrutinizing every piece of equipment before it goes into the sledge hoovers up precious time and time always seems in short supply at this point in any expedition schedule.  But is now done, sort of ...

Despite the feeling that nothing much happened today, it actually did, it was a huge, huge day, the passing of which has gone unnoticed, if it has been noted nobody has mentioned it. Four years of desperately hard and sometimes emotional work, research, hard, (very hard) fundraising, planning
and re-planning and breathtaking commitment by Pen, Simon ( Harris-Ward), Chip, Dom and more recently Becks Duckworth and Gaby Dean have brought us all to the point where possibly the most important Polar Expedition of a generation is almost at the start line.


Tomorrow and the next three days is ironically, a 'warm up', which is an unfortunate phrase to use as that is the very phrase that has brought us here, possibly...

Category: Preparation
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