Battle for the 11-1-11

Published on 09.01.2011 - One step at a time

Without any doubt the pair Ter Horst - McKeand is going to reach the South Pole soon. But Willem got suddenly an idea : what about making the arrival unforgettable by getting there on 11 January 2011 (11-1-11) ?

To enter into their world...

It seldom happens that, when following these polar travellers and expeditions, we are able to enter into their own world and into what make these voyages so intilate and personal for some of them. But sometimes it does also happen that a traveller is better that the other ones in descriibing what he feels, what he is experiencing on the ice out there.

Last spring, we had highlighted some original questions American explorer Eirc Larsen had put forward during his trek to the North Pole. Such as : “Why is ice so beautiful?” (18 March) and four days later another cute one : Of what use is this journey ? (22 March 2010).

This time -thanks to Willem's blog of the 8 January-, we have the opportunity to zoom on a very interesting (and often unknown) part of these voyages : the motivation every traveller has indise oneself.

"Motivation is the key to any good day..."

Here is what Willem writes about it : "... Motivation is the key to any good day. Motivation makes things posible that otherwise aren't. Lack of motivation usualy leads to disaster. Today is a good example. When we left the weather was pretty bad. There was little visibility or contrast, but there were a few patches of blue sky. As long as there is some contrast I'm okay. After about 15 minutes the contrast disappeared and I was therefore not okay. My motivation went down the drain. There is no love lost between me and whiteouts, and today was no exception. My speed dropped, and when it was my turn to lead, with pure a whiteout around me I was in trouble again. We were due another one of these nasty buggers and I hope it has been the last one now. This time my navigation was okay, but my speed was dismal. It still affects me a lot when I can't see a horizon and I'm travelling blind. Two more hours of whiteout and I felt like a wreck. Luckily halfway through the day the sun broke through and it became a little easier. It didn't help me recover, especially not on my own leads when I needed to set the pace: slow, there was no other word for it. After seven marches I had lost all hope of making pole by the eleventh and contemplated asking Hannah to make camp now, and not do the full eight marches. In the end I rejected the idea. To my surprise Hannah then asked if I wanted to do an extra hour today. Yesterday I had understood she didn't want to do extra hours everyday, and now she offered. My first internal reaction was "no way, i'm totally wasted already". But then, still a bit surprised by the offer, hope came back. And with hope motivation returned as well in full force. The next two marches were probably the fastest of the day. I know for sure my last one was, all of a sudden all the pains had disappeared and I was full of energy. Okay, I was going too fast, I need to learn to tune it down a bit, but through those two last marches we turned a worthless day into a good day that kept us right on track for Pole in another 3 days. The results: 15.4 nm in 9 h and camping at 89°14.5'S..."

What about arriving on 11-1-11 ?

The day before it dawned on Willem a strange idea : "... Then it dawned on me that maybe there was a difference between 11-1-11 and 12-1-11. I'm a numbers man, being a mathemathician at hearth, and I must say that 11-1-11 looks awfully appealing. I would give a lot to make it to pole that day. ..."

But so far his guide Hannah does not seem to be too keen about the dutch proposal because that would oblige the pair to do some extra marches every day. And Hannah says that the serious injuries always happen when there is a kind of a rush during the last days of the adventure.




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