It’s 7am in Antarctica and the solar is already excessive within the sky – it by no means set.
In truth, there received’t be night time once more right here till after February, when the continent plunges into fixed darkness for the lengthy winter season.
On this icy desert, man-made fixtures akin to date and time matter little or no because the barren panorama sits resolute, stretching endlessly onward towards the coast.
Look nearer. Simply over 100 miles from the geographic South Pole, two purple specks sit stark in opposition to the colourless floor. They’re tents, however that is no abnormal tenting journey.
Inside, 4 males are celebrating Christmas. One makes a name dwelling from a satellite tv for pc telephone, whereas one other enjoys a chocolate Santa Claus.
Right this moment is a day of relaxation, however it will likely be quick lived; they nonetheless have an extended technique to go.
There’s roughly per week and a half left of their journey to the pole, 12 nautical miles on skis every day, with 120-pounds every of substances trailing behind.
One of many males, Elora resident Ian Evans, nurses two foot accidents which have been debilitating his journey from the primary week – at 58, he has misplaced practically 25 kilos and his muscle depletion has reached a crucial state.
Nonetheless, the group intends to press on. Right here, there isn’t any simple escape, no creature comforts or alternate route. Antarctica is an unwilling host and the boys are all at Mom Nature’s mercy.
Quick ahead. It’s Jan. 22 and Evans has been again in Elora for a couple of week after reaching the South Pole along with his expedition group on Jan. 6.
It’s apparent the journey continues to be recent in his thoughts as he sits down for an interview, the motion itself bringing a right away sense of satiety to his options.
“I’ve gained 17 kilos in two weeks!” he says with a chuckle. “Not many individuals would suppose that’s good.”
Through the 44 days Evan and his companions spent snowboarding from the Antarctic coast to the pole, they burned round 9,000 energy per day – equal to spending 9 hours working on a treadmill. It was a deficit no quantity of dehydrated meals may assuage.
“I’m actually bored with energy bars,” he says. “I hated oatmeal earlier than I went, however I actually hate it now as a result of I had it 45 days in a row.”
When requested what it was he missed most whereas he was away, Evans pauses for less than a second.
“Simply sitting round right here is fairly good, simply sitting in a chair. The factor I missed most aside from my spouse and daughter was sitting in a chair, at a desk, having one thing to eat,” he says significantly.
“It felt so good to eat correct meals at a desk and never should wrestle to arrange it.”
Through the expedition, Evans and his group cooked on a small gas-powered camp range, boiling melted snow to cook dinner dehydrated meals. Through the day they snacked on energy bars and chunks of meat or cheese, all of which have been frozen stable.
“It felt like we have been residing like cavemen,” he says. “You weren’t washing, you weren’t consuming correct meals and also you have been enduring bodily train in these unbelievably chilly temperatures. I can’t consider some other technique to describe it as a result of it’s to date faraway from sitting round right here in a heated home.”
Although coated in snow and ice year-round, Antarctica is a desert with an arid local weather incapable of holding water vapour within the air, that means there may be little or no precipitation.
Within the winter, temperatures can fall to -89 C with a median each day temperature in the summertime of -25. This implies solar blindness, frostbite, dry pores and skin and cracked lips are just the start of a large number of illnesses that might befall explorers of the continent.
Evans says except for all of the components already working in opposition to the group, his challenges have been distinctive.
As a result of intensive coaching he was endeavor previous to the journey, he began the tour with a heel spur in his left foot. By the tip of the primary week, the ball joint in his proper toe had additionally swollen to twice its regular measurement. Even after icing and treating the accidents every night time, Evans was in a substantial amount of ache for a lot of the journey.
“After an evening’s sleep they weren’t too dangerous for about two hours, then by the third hour they obtained worse, then I began taking ache killers, and by the tip of the day I used to be simply hanging on,” he explains.
“There have been instances after I simply didn’t know what to do. There was 400 miles to go and I used to be injured and struggling. So I simply obtained by way of every hour, then the subsequent hour and the subsequent day.”
Three weeks into the expedition, Evans says his physique started to present out. Because the oldest member on the group, he started to fall behind the others, reaching relaxation stops simply in time to get going once more.
But, he attests it was his age and former expertise in excessive conditions that enabled him to maintain placing one foot in entrance of the opposite.
“My physique began shrinking and the muscle tissue have been going and I didn’t have the power … so I needed to discover different methods of dealing with that too,” he says. “It really grew to become a thoughts sport. It wasn’t bodily as a result of the physique was completed, however in some way you survive. You’re able to a lot extra. You’re able to issues which are unbelievable.”
Although he says he by no means as soon as thought-about chucking up the sponge or regretted his dedication to the journey, there was a second the place all his senses appeared to fail – each thoughts and physique – and he wasn’t positive he may go on.
“With two days to go, we have been solely 20 miles from the pole and we have been prepared to start out snowboarding and I couldn’t transfer, I couldn’t ski,” he says. “I couldn’t transfer my legs. They’d merely stopped working.”
Instigating that movement might have been one of the crucial testing moments for Evans, however it was quickly rewarded.
“On the final day of the journey, it was a crappy day, we have been falling all over and it was virtually a white out … about 10 miles from the South Pole out of the blue the solar got here out and shone on the white roof of the navigation dome on the airport,” he says. “That was actually highly effective if you hadn’t seen a man-made object for 1,000 kilometres.”
Regardless of the unimaginable stress and problem of the journey, Evans says he expects to stay life-long associates with the opposite males who accompanied him on the journey.
“There was a lot stress within the state of affairs that if there have been any issues they’d be worse than regular. It’s not like having an issue on the pub the place you possibly can go dwelling. You have been caught in a really troublesome state of affairs for a very long time.”
Nonetheless, “Everybody had dangerous days and we helped that particular person … on the finish of the day we labored as a group.”
Evans says it’s nonetheless too quickly for him to completely grasp the magnitude of what he has simply achieved. Reaching the South Pole is an unimaginable feat – by no means thoughts the very fact he stands out as the oldest Canadian to do it.
Presently he’s nonetheless recovering from the bodily tolls of the journey and even speaking about it may be overwhelming, however he’s agency when he says he has no regrets.
“It was price it – completely. I’ve been someplace I by no means imagined I might ever get to go and I’ve stood within the footsteps of a few of these nice explorers,” he says.
“I’ve challenged myself greater than ever earlier than and found I had sources I didn’t know I had.”
It’s solely been two weeks since Evans was standing on the South Pole, however already he’s pondering of the subsequent journey (“someplace heat this time”).
Till then, he will probably be working alongside a movie producer compiling footage for an upcoming documentary on the expedition (to be launched by the tip of the yr) and visiting quite a few colleges and companies to share his story.
Finally Evans hopes to encourage others to problem themselves and push the boundaries of their consolation zone – with no matter that will entail.
“Ache and struggling are non permanent however quitting is ceaselessly,” he says, noting the well-known quote was one thing he typically thought of on the journey. “So suck it up, you’re not going to die, you’ll get by way of it.”
For extra info or to guide Evans for a talking engagement go to ianevans.ca or e-mail [email protected].