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Soon I’ll be standing at the intersection of 80 degrees West and 80 degrees South.
It’s a place I know well, a point seemingly on the edge of the planet, or close to it. Its name is Hercules Inlet and it is found on the very rim of Antarctica. Moments before I’ll have shaken hands with my pilot and nervously watched as he teased his plane back into the sky. His name is Robert, his will be the last face I’ll see for nearly two months.
I’ll stand motionless for a time, at least until the air goes silent and I am once gain enveloped by the vastness and intense loneliness of the Ice.
In these moments I’ll take my time. I’ll slip my harness over my shoulders, point my sled toward the south, re-check my lines, test my sled buckles and runners then stop and take stock. Before me sits an image I have seen in my minds eye for twelve solid months – the blue and hard white of the Antarctic Horizon. I will also be the only thing I will see for two more.
My task is clear, cross 700 miles of the cruelest territory on the planet.
Butterflies will fill by belly as I think of the days that lay ahead – pulling a 250-pound sled up 9,000 feet to the upper plateau, negotiating around crevasse fields, sustrugi, disturbed ice and mountain ranges – each step in the face the most dominant wind on the planet.
It will be long, lonely and cold, nearly two months of non-stop travel -save for sleeping and meals all done to personally plant three flags: The stars and stripes, one for DeSmogBlog and mine, Expedition Earth, a flag representing change.