Alone Against the Antarctic!
Published on 28.11.2008 - The Finnish SP Solo Expedition
He's on his way but things are not going as planned. Teemu Lakkasuo is gathering mishap and misfortune as he wends his merry way. In any case, these first two weeks of the expedition have provided some real suspense.
12 November, at 09:15, while crossing the 80th parallel South, Teemu considered that the expedition had begun for good. The poor conditions of the terrain obliged the Finn to do a lot of zigzagging and consequently he was only able to progress 15 km. Furthermore, it was cold and the strong wind was making the cold worse. This is called the windchill effect. The following day was even worse and only 8.8 km were covered.
14 November, whereas the morning weather seemed very calm, the wind ended up starting to blow. But it was mainly the crevasses that impeded the crossing. During the following days, the wind blew even harder, to such an extent that, on 16 November, Teemu decided against his will to remain in his tent. "When you travel on your own, you have to be prudent with the wind", he explained. "You have to be sure that you can put the tent up before the storm strikes, and that evening, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to", he concluded.
A new hard knock for the Finn. When he was about to cross the 81st parallel, a cold caught in Chile obliged him to stop after two hours of skiing. The doctors of the "Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions" (ALE) advised him to rest and to recoup his energy before setting out again. That night, it was a fever that appeared and, after renewed contact with the doctors, Teemu had to spend the rest of the day (the 18th) in his sleeping bag.
19 and 20 November, it was freezing cold. The feeling was even worse as the wind and the poor terrain slowed down the solitary explorer, who declared: "I had so many clothes on that it was difficult to ski".
21 November, everything finally seemed to be OK. The sun was shining, the temperature was -15°C and his cold was now only a memory. However, the bad luck continued. After lunch, when he set out again, Teemo stumbled and hurt his leg. He continued to ski until the pain stopped him and he noticed that his leg was swollen. The following day, the Finn tried again. After 5 kilometres and despite the painkillers, the pain continued to be atrocious. The doctor had him to rest for 24 hours.
24 November, after Teemo had sent a photograph of his still swollen leg, ALE sent a vehicle to recover him and to bring him back to square one in order to assess the damage. In any case, that put an end to his dream of completing this expedition without external assistance. In Patriot Hills, while waiting for the doctors' verdict, Teemo weighed things up. Everything had worked well; the equipment was intact and the method was right, but a series of bad luck upset his plans. Polar explorers know just how hard it is to move on skis over an area covered with sastrugis, especially for a solo expedition. In one second, three years of effort, sacrifice, training and dreams were up in smoke... "but that's the name of the game", he concluded, "and if the doctors let me, I'll try again!"
Teemo still doesn't know if he will be able to set out again, especially as a new element has to be taken into account: for the moment, there is no plane to bring him to his new point of departure. The Finn does not have enough reserves to set out again from Patriot Hills. "And if my leg or the logistics were to prevent me from continuing, I'll try again the next year", he declared on the evening of 26 November.