Friday, June 5, 2015

To the South Pole and Back:the hardest 105 days of my life- Ben Saunders
Rating: ****

This article is about a man who walked traveled from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back on foot with his friend/partner in 105 days.

Ben Saunders had a dream to accomplish this expedition. Previously, nine people attempted to complete this adventure. No one has ever completed it, and a group of five people even died in the process. Saunders was determined to accomplish this trek that seemed to be impossible, as Antarctica has a very cold and almost unbearable climate.This journey also requires a lot of physical endurance. Ben and his partner, Tarka, walked (and sometimes skied) a total of 1800 miles in 4 months (105 days). Ben describes Antarctica as “the coldest, windiest, driest, and highest place on Earth.” They broke the world record for “Longest human-powered polar journey” in history. Ben and Tarka walked for 105 days at about 9.5 miles an hour. They each carried their own giant sled. At the beginning of the trip, each sled weighed about 440 pounds (200 kilos)! They had technology on the trip, including a laptop, as they used it to blog about the journey from their tent. They also had a custom-made solar-power satellite transmitter (a panel over the tent). During this trip, they also traveled up and down one of the world’s most dangerous glaciers. Surprisingly, Ben and Thaka faced the same type of challenges on their trip that the previous group who tried to accomplish this trip in 1912 (led by a man named Captain Robert Falcon Scott) had to face. For example, the weather deeply affected them, as it slowed them down and also both got hypothermia several times. There was also no visibility of the trail for most of their journey. They finally arrived to the South Pole after 61 days (with one day off). The pair faced even more challenges on the way back to the coast of Antarctica. They were so exhausted, and they were only half way done. They had “headwind” before they arrived to the South Pole, which slowed them down. They only started to eat half of the daily rations each day. As I said above, they became very hypothermic. They had low-blood levels. Ben felt like quitting sometimes, but knew that he had to finish. One day, they completely ran out of food. They still had 74 kilometers to go. Ben had no option but to call for a “resupply flight” to come and bring them more food. During the Ted Talk, he said that then he did not want to make that call,but today he doesn’t regret it at all. They also faced other problems, such as how their “crampons” (spikes to put on boots) broke, the same time that they had to go downhill, on very slippery ice/snow. They also fell in very deep snow a lot. Ben explains how he felt very small in Antarctica.They eventually ended their journey on the Antarctica coast near New Zealand. Ben Saunders explains that he feels like a whole new person after this trip. He learned that happiness is not a finish line. It’s about the journey.  

This article has actually affected me in many ways. In this article, Ben Saunders truly demonstrates that anything is possible, as long as you put your mind to it. This story has made me realize that to find happiness, you need to chase your dreams. Ben also talked about the extreme problems that they faced while on this exploration, such as hypothermia and starvation. This has affected me as I can just imagine how scary these situations would be, especially when you’re alone. This video has made me think about following and pursuing my own dreams. It has also made me think about possibly going on an adventure like this sometime in my life, as this planet is so beautiful. From this video, I have learned that if I want to do something, I should go and do it. Ben Saunders wanted to complete this expedition, and he completed it. I learned that if you really put your mind to something, you will be able to succeed. I have also learned that if I ever decide to go on an extreme expedition like this, there will be planes/ crews that I can contact if I am in need of help. I have also been taught new tips (equipment,etc.) that Ben said as he shared his expedition stories in his speech. I can now use these tips if I ever decide to go on a big trip like this. Ben Saunders has also taught me that you can find happiness anywhere. Although they had some really tough times on the trip, they also had fun at times as well. Life is about the journey, not the destination. Ben’s words have inspired me to challenge myself, and to explore the world. I was never very interested in going on big adventure trips alone because  I have always felt scared about what could happen. After watching this video, Ben has taught me that going on huge adventures is where you can find happiness and create unforgettable memories. He has also inspired me to chase my dreams and to live and enjoy life. This video will definitely make me look at things from a different point of view, as Saunders explained what they personally pain he went through during those 105 slow days.They also had some really great moments on the trip. I will now have a new view on life and be more positive. I will also try to follow my own dreams, as Ben inspired me when he kept on saying that anything is possible.

"I'm standing here telling this story is proof that we all can accomplish great things..."

Saunders, Ben. “Ben Saunders: To the South Pole and Back:the hardest 105 days of my life”. March 2014. Received June 4, 2015.

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