Looking into a ‘scary mind abyss’ each morning…

Published on 19.12.2011 - The South Pole : Solo but not Alone

That's the daily life of fifty year old adventurer Howard Fairbank: to analyse every single mental and physical step of his travel... Even when he takes a day rest, he manages to writes two full pages. Surprise : it's not at all boring... But we need sometimes a psychoanalyst sofa to understand !

"In the middle of very cold nothingness"

Let's start with this 'scary mind abyss', Fairbank is looking into each morning, as soon as he opens one eye.

On 19 December, Faibank writes : "... I haven't shared with you the scary mind abyss I look into each morning: Can you imagine setting out each day, on YOUR OWN, knowing you are going to spend 10-11 hours in the middle of very cold nothingness, JUST to accomplish 28-32 km of travel to the Pole? If you start thinking what you are going to think in those hours, and how you are going to 'occupy' yourself, you are essentially looking down into a deep mind abyss! You have to quickly 'turn away', and forget that that thought came up, otherwise the abyss will 'take you'. I've learnt now that each day brings a new 10-11 hours, and as someone said in their comment: each day is so different and full of new challenges that one gets consumed by the new 'differences', when the days are all very boring from the macro perspective... It's a strange thing, but the line between contentment and the abyss is so fine I'm too scared to even explore it! ..."

We won't emphasize the fact that on 19 December, the same expeditioner writes that he has crossed the finishing line of his day after 11 hours 8 minutes and 31 seconds ski. These kinds of details belong only to the intimacy of his voyage.

His next strategy

What he says about his doings during the rest day he took on 17 December are more interesting : "... But what a luxury day... I've never had one like this, all on my own, in the 'middle' of Antarctica, and sitting in one spot for 12 hours, and never bored nor discontent! Lots of little jobs to do, I even had to make a list so I stayed focused! Can't help myself, hey! I sewed, I cooked, I totally undressed, I washed, I changed my underwear, vaselined my abused hands, cut my fingernails, I modified my hands-free compass, charged all my batteries (the electronics ones!), I turfed out (burned) 3 litres of fuel and my garbage, I counted my food, rationed it off, repacked my sled, and then went through my photos and sent some off to Dominique for the blog... I hope they aren't too small..."

"With all this extra (I certainly hope so!) food and fuel around, I had a wonderful culinary day, ending with half a pot of delicious smoked bacon in a sharp cheddar source."

"I then went through my strategy for the next 9 or so days to the Pole.The mindset is critical, I'm far from there yet! This is like a macro size version the 32km mark in a marathon: one can't think about the finish, the end of the suffering, the hot shower, etc, I must just PRODUCE day after day consistent 30+ km days and it will all just happen. Ahead, there will still be some challenges, some amazing times, and I have to just be ready to deal with whatever comes......"

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