We had the privilege of sitting down with legendary polar expedition guide, Keith Heger, since he is in our office everyday!
Here are some of his thoughts on his 44-day Full South Pole expedition on the Messner route.
What was the hardest part of the expedition?
Being away from home for the holidays.
What was your strongest emotion?
The strongest emotion I had was seeing the base on the last day. It was just a dot on the horizon and we were playing a game of whoever saw it first would get a round of beers back in Punta. I saw it first (I knew what I was looking for) but I didn’t get the beers. The emotion was raw exuberance and a feeling of immense accomplishment that the goal was in reach. It was finally tangible, rather than just numbers on the GPS. Touching the South Pole was the culmination of a year’s worth of planning, preparation and immense team collaboration but it was not overwhelming.
What do you think of when you reflect on this expedition?
The character of each individual team member made the journey for me. That we were able to pull of the expedition in such style is something I am very proud of.
What did you miss the most?
Real dinners. In particular hamburgers. I thought about hamburgers a lot. As a team we thought about Thai food a lot because it was the last dinner we ate in town before we flew to Antarctica.
What was the longest amount of time with no one saying a word to each other.
An hour and fifteen minutes. Each of our six daily pushes was 1 hour and 15 minutes. At breaks there was always banter about anything under the sun. Except raisins. I don’t remember any talk about raisins.
What did you think about when you were skiing?
It ran the gammet from our per/tenth of a muile average speed, to what I would eat for dinner, to what friends and family were doing at home, to how the texture of the snow got to be the way it was. It was a myriad of different thoughts through any given day. I listended to a few books, and we would trade ipods which gave us some variety.
Whose ipod did you like the best?
My own. But Bradley’s was pretty good. He had The Worst Journey In the World about Mawson’s Antarctic expedition. It made me feel a little bit like I was a whimp. They had cardboard suits and were out in -70 temps. I noticed that they never talked about how they went to the bathroom. That’s the first question people ask me when I give presentations at home.
Describe each team member in one word, including yourself.
Andy – aweosme
Ian – awesomer
Bradley – totally awesome.
Yourself (Keith) – also awesome, but is softer, more feminine way. (he says jokingly)
Chicken a la king.
Least favorite meal:
Chicken a la king after day 30.
Best south pole life hack?
What’s a life hack?
(A life hack is any trick or shortcut that increases efficiency or productivity.)
Best South Pole life hack?
My goggle skirt. I loved it. It’s a flap of thick fleece attached to the bottom rim of my goggles. It was leaps and bounds my favorite piece of kit.
The one thing you could not have been without?
My sunglasses. Used both outside the tent and inside the tent when it was sunny outside. And also my goggle skirt.
Any advice for prospective Full South Pole Skiers?
For advice, I recommend gaining an extra 20 pounds of weight prior to the expedition. This is essential. Without the extra weight your energy and power will fade away with the daily grind and taxing physical workout. You will end up a shadow of your former self. So eat up! Also, train more than you think you need to. Each ounce of training is worth a pound of gold during the expedition.