(By Correne Coetzer) Early November, Australian Geoff Wilson flies from Cape Town, South Africa, to Novolazarevskaya for the start of his solo kite-ski expedition to the Geographic South Pole. From the Pole he plans to turn towards Hercules Inlet to complete a coast-to-coast crossing. This trek is dedicated to all women fighting breast cancer, he told ExplorersWeb, therefore the "boobsled" to visually highlight his case.
To prepare for the expedition, Geoff has done polar survival training with Matty McNair and kite training with her two kids, Eric and Sarah, in Canada. At the moment he is crevasse-training with Lydia Bradey in the New Zealand Alps, "to make sure I don t walk into any crevasses solo with my boobs for company at the bottom of the Abyss," he added. Geoff has also got advice from Australian veteran polar explorer, Eric Philips, "who has been invaluable with logistics and gear advice especially regards weight reduction."
ExplorersWeb: Where does the idea come from that you want to do a polar expedition? And furthermore in particular to do this long expedition?
Geoff: I have always wanted to complete an Antarctic crossing coast to coast but never had a good enough cause to do it for – Katie Carlyle my good friend was diagnosed at the age of 31 with breast cancer – she has been fighting the disease for 4 years – she is still not free of the disease. This trek is dedicated to all women fighting the disease and aims to raise $1m to provide breast care nurses for women suffering the disease in rural Australia and the Torres Strait.
ExplorersWeb: Your clothes and gear are pink - tell us about your goal please.
Geoff: See above really – the BOOBSLED was a silly idea in the middle of the night – but it's taken off and given the trek the spotlight we need to make a difference for Breast Cancer sufferers globally and for the McGrath Foundation in Australia. Our Major Sponsor HELPWORLD is also dedicated to the goal of raising $1m for the McGrath Foundations work of providing breast care nurses Australiawide.
ExplorersWeb: Tell us about your gear please. What clothes are you using? Skis? Sled?...
Geoff: An Acapulka Sled, Ozone Kite 6, 9, 14m, Kastel Skiis, Dynafit bindings, Mixed bag of clothing – I've tested so many different lines and could not find one manufacturer who produced all items I needed – so I paid cash for the gear so I can truly rely on the gear I m using.
ExplorersWeb: How much food will you take? Weight of you sled?
Geoff: I am supplied for 80 days but hope to do better than that… My start weight including 3.5 kg of Kevlar Boobs is 160 kg. Still backbreaking weight for the climb but once on the plateau I feel it'll be manageable.
ExplorersWeb: What training have you been doing?
Geoff: I have been training in Colorado and Iqaluit, Arctic; also New Zealand and on our sunny beaches – dragging tires, weight conditioning, trying to put on bulk weight – I am up 15 kg on my usual weight.
I feel strong after just completing the first Kite assisted crossing of the Torres Strait. The sea was wild and we kited 399 km on 5 days. Not a lot of sleep as the coral atolls gave us no cover and the tents certainly were not built for 30 knots plus! Lots of kite flying, kite buggying, sled hauling, trying to strengthen mind, back, quads, upper arms…
ExplorersWeb: You have three months left, what outstanding preparations are on your to do list?
Geoff: My main focus now is to stop working so much, finalize major sponsors, do the speaking gigs we need to raise the donations for the charity and to get comms gear, navigation gear, recharge gear, test different menus/diets, keep weight gain up (5 more kg) and focus on sensible hard training with no chance of a late injury – plus get familiar with the new Quantum Kite Ozone is pushing out for me.
ExplorersWeb: Anything else?
Geoff: Just putting it out there to any prior solo expeditioners – what's the greatest beartrap for you mentally and how did you overcome it? – let me know… my mind I feel will be the greatest maze of all. I feel strong, I know I have the skills to stay alive, I love to fly kites and am sure I can do so safely in all situations, the great unknown is what Antarctica can throw at you – I am humble enough to recognize that.
Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:
To ALCI base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo
(70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E).
Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:
To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier
(79° 45'S, 083° 14'W).
Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S near Union Glacier.
A "solo" ski requires unassisted status (therefore no resupplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything received from any person) and no following of vehicle tracks (vehicle drivers navigating the way).
Geoff's Pink Polar Expedition website
The Cycle Race for the South Pole: Spain's Juan Menendez Granados
The Cycle Race to the South Pole: Girl power, Kate Leeming
ExWeb South Pole kick-off interview: Daniel Burton, return cycle journey
Adventure Network International (ANI)
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE)
Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI)
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