This week, Goal Zero ambassador Eric Larsen shares his adventure exclusively with the GZnation.
December 22, 2012, Cycle South Expedition Journal Entry:
“I suppose at some point in the future, I will look back on today and smile – the effect of time and distance having fully pared down my memory to a few mildly amusing vignettes, but until then I am rooted in the here and now, staring across one of the most remote and inhospitable places in the entire world with a goal I’m not sure I’ll be able to achieve.”
Antarctica. Even on a good day it can strip away all your optimism and hope.
“My name is Eric Larsen and I am a polar adventure and expedition guide. I have spent my life in some of the most extreme and unwelcoming environments on the planet. In 2010, I completed an expedition to the South Pole, North Pole and the top of Mt. Everest in less than 365 days. My goal for 2012: bicycle 730 miles to the South Pole across the coldest, windiest and most isolated place in the world: Antarctica.”
“Polar travel is unlike any other kind of expedition travel. Besides being brutally cold, full expeditions to the North or South Poles span not just a couple of days or even weeks. Rather they last for months. My 2009 South Pole Ski journey lasted 48 days. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges is simply managing resources.”
“The amount of physical and mental energy that is required to be out and moving every day is substantial. And it’s not like the effort ends as soon as I decide to camp. It takes me nearly an hour after pulling up to a somewhat hospitable piece of snow before I can climb in the tent. The process goes like this: put on my down jacket and big gloves, set up the tent, shovel snow on the snow flaps, make a snow wall (if its windy), set up my Goal Zero product, bring all my gear into the tent, make snow blocks for melting, set up the stove… Ad Infinitum.”
“I liken polar travel to death by 1,000 cuts. On any given day, you aren’t suffering under unbearable stress and physical strain; rather you are operating on a barely sustainable level. I say barely, because each day, like a tiny cut, you loose a little energy that you never get back. Therefore, being efficient with every action, effort and gear is critical to success.”
“On journeys like these, electronics play a huge role in my safety, navigation, communication, entertainment (iPod), and more. However, being able to power these items poses a problem unto itself. Remember that death by 1,000 cuts? Everything that we need to live and survive, we have to carry with us. The more gear we bring, the heavier our sleds, packs or bikes will be, and the more energy we will use, the more tired we will become, and ultimately, the less likely that we will be able to achieve our goal.”
“For quite some time now, the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus has been one of my most important expedition gear items. Having access to unlimited power for my satellite phone, iPod, camera batteries, GPS, and inReach tracking beacon is fundamental to being able to route find, coordinate logistics, update my partners, and even relax. Of course, the Guide 10 Plus also represents a significant weight saving over trying to carry the equivalent amount of ‘power’ in non rechargeable batteries. Additionally, the Guide 10 Plus is versatile and offers a variety of charging options – which for me is also important. On my Cycle South expedition, I was able to set up the Guide 10 Plus on my panniers and charge the battery pack while I road. That way in the tent each night, I was doubly efficient because I could use the battery pack to charge one item and charge directly from the panel (because it’s 24-hour daylight) as well.”
“Not surprisingly, using solar power not only keeps me safe but it makes me more efficient and I can honestly say that by using the Guide 10 Plus, I’m actually increasing my chances of success. My name is Eric Larsen, and this is my polar life. Solar Powered.”