Aug 14, 2012

Racing To the Poles 5

These rainy days limit us to do some outdoor adventure, so it’s time to read some article. Todd Carmichael set out to become the fastest person to reach the South Pole on foot. He didn’t count on having to fight for his own life.

Just past 4 am on December 19, 2008, American Todd Carmichael sits in a tent below Antarctica’s 89th parallel. Outside it’s 40 below, windy and otherworldly bright, as the solstice sun circles tirelessly overhead, inching toward the South Pole. That’s where Carmichael is headed too, in the last stage of his attempt to break British explorer Hannah McKeand’s record for an unassisted trek to the pole. She traveled the 690 miles from Hercules Inlet to the pole in 39 days, nine hours, and 33 minutes.

Day one, mile 8: In the first 48 hours, both of Carmichael skis and poles break. Day two, mile 20: He falls into a crevasse. “It could’ve been as deep as a mile,” he says. But his 250-pound sled acted as a counterweight, allowing him o pull himself out. Day four, mile 44: A storm with winds up to 100 mph strands Carmichael for two days. Day 22, mile 338: He sets the record for distance traveled in a single day (27 miles). Day 37, mile 648: After setting up camp, Carmichael’s stoves fail, his food ruined, and he loses his GPS. He considers sending out an SOS. Day 39, mile 697: With the pole in his sights, he abandons all of his gears for final, desperate push.

“One more day out there and you’d be dead,” the doctor at the U.S. polar station told him. In retrospect it appears Carmichael brought himself to the edge of death by a combination of bullish pride and self-destructive determination. But those same qualities, coupled with his extraordinary fitness, ultimately saved him.

“I try not to let in regrets.” But regrets aren’t far from his mind. Ten days after he returned, three Canadians arrived at the South Pole, making the trek in just less than 34 days. The worst they suffered was a few foot blisters. Carmichael still holds the solo record. “Part of me is happy it happened this way,” he says. “No one can say I got it because it was an easy year.”

-source Men’s Journal

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