What does it take to be a dymano team member on a last degree expedition?
KH: A dynamo team member is not the strongest or fastest person, rather it is someone who is adaptable, positive and ready for the unpredictable challenges that all polar expeditions encounter. People with these qualities can overcome physical limitations and make the expedition special for everyone. We see this time and again. In the case of Prince Harry we are seeing it with the Walking with the Wounded teams. What an inspiration! Dynamo team members share one commonality, they know that the expedition is about the journey, not about reaching the Pole.
AA: A while ago I guided a two degree North Pole Dogsled Expedition. Unbeknownst to us one of our team members arrived with a slight cold that turned into an pneumonia. He couldn't account for why he was struggling all the time, but that didn't keep him from being the team "dynamo" (or at least one of them). If we had a tired group in the dinner tent he would tell a great story and have everyone laughing by the time the water was boiling. If we had a difficult day on the trail he would face any challenge with a smile and as much energy as he could muster. If someone needed a helping hand he was the first to offer support even if it was only a smile or a few words of encouragement. People like that are awesome team members.
Does a "dynamo" have to be ultra fit? Will people who aren't Iron Man athletes fare well on most expeditions?
KH: You don't have to be ultra fit, but every ounce of training that you do before the expedition will pay off exponentially. If you are an average joe and you don't train at all for your expedition you WILL have a hard time, there's no doubt. But if you are an average joe and you are dedicated to training prior to the expedition you will likely face some challenges (that's part of the fun) but chances are great that you will be very successful, and have an amazing time!
AA: People who aren't Iron Man athletes often get the most out of the expeditions. It's awesome to witness someone standing at the top or bottom of the world, having just skied there, who never thought they would in a million years be a polar explorer. It can be a life changing experience.
Besides physical training is there anything people can do in advance of the expedition to help them relax, enjoy and maybe even be a "dynamo" on an expedition?
KH: Commit to being a team player. Understand that 95% of the challenges and 95% of the rewards take place on the journey and not while you are standing at the Pole. Decide that you are going to make the most of each moment, no matter what the circumstances.
AA: Set up a support network at home so you can be confident going off the grid for a while. Whether it's knowing that someone is checking your work emails or knowing that flowers are being delivered to your spouse in appreciation for watching the kids... do whatever it takes in advance so that you can be really present during the expedition.
KH: Pack a lightweight "fun kit" for tent time. And take part in our "secret dessert" tradition. It's a blast, and a good way to share your hometown goodies with the team.
Any other words of advice?
AA: You can't have the experience without signing up! So call me or email me and I'll help you pick the best expedition to bring your wildest polar dreams to life.
KH: I don't know about that Annie. That sounded a little kinky.
AA: Wouldn't you like to know. Seriously, we love talking to people about our expeditions. So let's set up a skype session or phone call and I'll answer your questions and give you the inside scoop. We accept applications year round for our various expeditions.
Keith Heger is a master at navigating rubble zones and he is famous for cooking up delicious fajitas après ski. He has guided more than a dozen North Pole, South Pole and Greenland Crossing expeditions. Keith is a gear head, he loves to talk about gizmos and gadgets relating to polar travel. You just might find him testing out the newest piece of kit during an expedition. In his free time you'll find him SUP boarding with his two sons or teaching them how to ski.
Annie Aggens guided her first North Pole expedition in 2000 and has since guided expeditions at both Poles and across Greenland. She is the author of the Encyclopedia of Outdoor and Wilderness Skills and often lectures about polar history and expedition travel. She founded an organization called ICECAAP to educate people about the effects of global climate change on the Arctic and polar regions and is on the board of the International Polar Guide Association.