Geoff Wilson, post South Pole traverse interview

Posted: Mar 12, 2014 03:18 pm EDT

 

(By Correne Coetzer) During the past 2013-14 Antarctic season, Geoff Wilson became the first Australian to traverse Antarctica, by kite-skiing from Novo Base to the Geographic South Pole and continuing to Hercules Inlet. During the expedition Geoff was adamant to keep his unassisted status by refusing to take food that was offered to him by people he came across. 

 

Furthermore, he was also adamant to complete his expedition despite storms, destroyed food, his sled nearly killing him, constant pain, and solo loneliness for 3270 km (in a straight line). Geoff told Explorersweb at home in Australia, enduring all this and more, he "found new reserves, new limits to pain tolerance, and endurance" he never believed he had.

 

Explorersweb: Your goal is to cross the deserts of the world and have been across harsh places like the Sahara Desert. Was this Novo - South Pole - Hercules Inlet solo, unassisted, unsupported what you expected it would be? Did anything prepare you for this?

 

Geoff: Yes – every adventure previously added to my skillset and ensured success that would never have come about without the prior adventures.

 

Simpson desert taught the frustration of failure due to poor planning, poor time selection and bad weather. 

 

The Torres Strait crossing was great at teaching how to push through pain and stay focused with no hint of rest coming. 

 

The Sahara Desert was a lesson in poor starts and yet keeping ones “faith eye” focused on the end point and pressing through…

 

Explorersweb: On the Novo route, you were hammered with storms at the start, you had that incident with the sled nearly killing you on Day 6. Your food was ruined. Were there times that you thought you were not going to get to the South Pole, let alone traverse?

 

Geoff: Oh yes, for sure – the start was super tough – but as I often say when looking back, valleys are often mountains that make you – the toughest times made me, toughened me for the long road ahead. 

 

The first storm was close to destroying everything, but I survived and nothing then seemed as bad.

 

The pain in my left knee, I blocked out and pressed on… the food being ruined forced me to “roll the clock” and press my body beyond anything I had ever done before.

 

I found new reserves, new limits to pain tolerance and endurance I never believed I had – I made up the time and without losing the food I never would have challenged the crossing times set previously – 53 days!

 

Amazing the valley, looking back was a mountain peak that made me!

 

Explorersweb: What kept you going?

 

Geoff: Many things – the whole journey I treated as a journey home. 

 

I focused on good decisions, prayed continually, determined to not make a mistake, imagined women suffering chemo, radiotherapy and surgery and pressed on. 

 

If it was just for my ego, I would have given up in the first storm…

 

Explorersweb: On the ice you were also  in contact with some veteran polar explorers. What did you learn from them? 

 

Geoff: I spoke to Matty McNair and Eric Phillips in the heart of the storm – to be sure Id done all I could as I wasn’t able to get the walls to hold up – was out every hour rebuilding and after 48 hours hadn't slept. The tent was at its absolute edge and I was concerned that it would break up imminently. Both Matty and Eric where superb and I survived – 4 days later the storm was over!  

 

Eric Phillips' calm demeanour and vast experience transferred through the sat phone to the solo storm experience and was life saving. Matty and I ran though all I had done and we agreed it was all up to the wind gods from there – she is a real strength and without her polar training I would have perished early on! 

 

Explorersweb: If you can give advice to anyone who wants to do this route, what would that be?

 

Geoff: Hmmmm – tough one – I would say call me as it needs to be seriously considered – especially if travelling solo – the solo element adds so much risk. I said to myself if I woke up and it was all a dream, and I was back at Novo, would I have the courage to do it all again – I'm not sure… that’s how tough it is – 80% mental 20% physical.

 

Explorersweb: Tell us about your kites please? What type of kites did you use? What is essential to know when you want to do a kite-ski expedition?

 

Geoff: 4M OZONE ACCESS 

 

6M OZONE ACCESS – my favorite kite as it allowed me to storm kite on the fringes of madness – making ground in suspect conditions, bailing when things got crazy. The last day I pulled my safety 4 times each time requiring an hour of detangling! 

 

9 m ozone frenzy

 

13 m ozone frenzy all on 25 m lines

 

13 m quantum on 80 m lines – this was the key – light wind kite flying perfected in the Sahara desert – I made miles when anyone else would have been in the tent (except for the McNair-Landrys – they'd still be out there with me!)

 

Explorersweb: Anything else?

 

Geoff: 

Dream

Know Your Gifts

Train Hard

Achieve…

 

Novo Base is located at 70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E

Geographic South Pole: 90 degrees South

Hercules Inlet: 80 degrees South 

 

Previous/Related

 

Geoff Wilson completes Antarctica crossing

 

Geoff Wilson’s website

 

Geoff’s blog: Reflections

 

 

Polar-ice-cycling: ExWeb interview with Juan Menéndez Granados

 

Polar-ice-cycling: ExWeb interview with Daniel Burton

 

ExWeb post South Pole interview with Fagan couple

 

ExWeb interview with Vesa Luomala, seeing the South Pole was like being in a Star Wars movie 

 

ExWeb interview with Antony Jinman, flying a drone at the South Pole

 

#polar #southpole2013 #southpole2013-14 #interview #geoffwilson #southpoletraverse

 

 

 

 

Geoff Wilson: "I spoke to Matty McNair and Eric Phillips in the heart of the storm [at the start] to be sure I'd done all I could as I wasn't able to get the walls to hold up - was out every hour rebuilding and after 48 hours hadn't slept." (Image taken on a later day)
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"The pain in my left knee, I blocked out and pressed on.... the food being ruined forced me to "roll the clock" and press my body beyond anything I had ever done before."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Geoff explains about his kites: "6M OZONE ACCESS, my favorite kite as it allowed me to storm kite on the fringes of madness, making ground in suspect conditions, bailing when things got crazy."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"Every adventure previously added to my skillset and ensured success that would never have come about without the prior adventures." Image: Geoff and his boobsled at the Ceremonial South Pole.
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Advice about this route: "I would say call me as it needs to be seriously considered, especially if travelling solo. The solo element adds so much risk."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"I ordered cellulose biodegradable tissues so that I could be eco friendly with #2s and they where more compact and lighter than toilet paper. The hilarious bit is that when I added water they popped open as a ladies's face mask!"
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"I focused on good decisions, prayed continually, determined to not make a mistake, imagined women suffering chemo, radiotherapy and surgery and pressed on" Image: Geoff before the expedition.
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"I often say when looking back, valleys are often mountains that make you the toughest times made me, toughened me for the long road ahead." Image: Geoff during the expedition.
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"The whole journey I treated as a journey home." Image: Geoff after the expedition, back in Australia, gaining lost weight.
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
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