Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ben Saunders skis to the North Pole

Ben Saunders

Rating: ****

The artic circle is a dreadfully cold and unrelenting environment for humans. It has not been very well explored, and there are many dangers. All reasons that cross-country skier Ben Saunders decided to depart on an expedition from Novaya Zemlya, (a group of Russian islands that border on the artic circle) to the North Pole. Although Ben and his team failed and were not able to achieve their goal, he decided that he would attempt to ski from Russia to Canada. In this TED talk Ben talks about his experiences on his expedition and the obstacles that he had to overcome.

On the first expedition in 2001 Ben left from Russia to attempt to cross-country ski to the North Pole with his team. On just the second day of this expedition they were attacked by a polar bear, and Ben had severe frostbite on his toes. Also, after a few weeks the group began to realize that they had not brought an adequate amount of food and they began loosing weight. They did not have a great amount of money and as a result they could not afford a decent communication system. They used two ski poles for a HF radio system. Throughout the entire trip there was less than two hours of communication with the outside world. These are all reasons why their expedition was a failure and why they did not achieve their goal. It was summer time when their expedition came to an end; the Russians that they had been in contact with had decided that it was unsafe for them to continue. It was getting warm and the ice was melting. The Russians picked them up by plane putting an official end to their expedition. Ben was devastated and felt as though he had completely failed, even though he was only 200 miles away from his destination. Ben was also disappointed to return home only to be greeted by his family and his girlfriend, instead of the dozens of reporters and paparazzies that he was expecting.

Not long after, Ben decided that he would try something that nobody had ever attempted before. He would ski from Russia to the North Pole and then to Canada by himself. Even the well renowned Italian Mountaineer Reinhold Messner stated that the expedition was “ten times as dangerous as Everest”(Skis to North Pole). Reinhold attempted this same expedition and was rescued after only a week. This made Ben realize that he would need to take a “radical” in order to accomplish his goal( Ben Saunders). This meant that he would need the most advanced communication, advanced knowledge of the artic circle, a new diet, and of course to be in peak physical and physiological condition. With the help of many specialists and doctors he left for Khatanga, Russia on a low tech plane with some camera men and some of his friends. A few days later the pilot flew him up to the begging of packed ice. Ben stated that when the helicopter left that he only then started to question what he had gotten himself into.

The conditions were harsh and he was forced to pull over 400 pounds containing everything that he would need for ninety-five days. The winds were fierce, and sometimes would blow him backwards from where his start point. However this time he felt more prepared because of the technology that he had with him. He had a wireless telephone that allowed him to not only call people but it also enabled him to keep a daily blog where he could post his facts and pictures. He had brought a good amount of food and did not much loose weight during the journey. He also had a dry suit that he could put over his clothes and boots so that if he fell through the ice, or had to swim through the water, that he would not get wet. After sixty-eight days he arrived at the North Pole, which was at 90.000000000 degrees north on his GPS. He was ecstatic. Conversely, it was getting quite warm and Ben knew that he was running out of time. He now wanted to get to Canada as soon as he could. Days later his team told him that it was too dangerous and that he could not advance any further. He felt demolished. But from the plane he was able to see the true difficulty of the obstacles ahead, whereas before he only saw them one at a time.

Ben says that this was a great test of human Limits, technology, physiology, psychology, but mostly a test of potential. He hopes that his expedition will inspire people to try to achieve their full potential and to push their limits. Ben plans to venture to the South Pole in the near future, which is something has not been done by anyone since 1912. Although one of his childhood teacher wrote to his parents that he would never be able achieve anything worthwhile, Ben knows that he is the only person who decides his true potential.

I found this TED talk to be very inspiring. Ben Saunders demonstrated that anything is possible, and that you are the only person who decides your true potential. In this twenty minute TED talk Ben Saunders recounted his two tales very well. He also got across his message that you can do anything. It would have been a better TED talk if he was more articulate at times and used better visual aids. I would recommend this TED talk to anyone who loves adventure stories and the great outdoors. In conclusion this was a very great TED talk and I really enjoyed it.

Ben Saunders skis to the North Pole. Talks: TED Partner Series. Web.

<> February 2005. January 7, 2012.

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