Here at TWC we pride ourselves on being informative and helpful to would-be adventurers. So in addition to bringing you the exploits of the world’s crazies, in the hopes that you will be inspired to craziness yourself, every once in a while we like to pass on important expeditioneering techniques. Today’s insight comes courtesy of a group of Brits who recently completed a trek to the South Pole. No big deal, right? Well, these guys did it using the exact same gear and technology used by one Robert Falcon Scott, which is to say clothing, gear and food that dates from 1911. As we all know, it didn’t work out so well for Scott. But this time no one died, and if you want to read more about the expedition, go target=”_blank”here.
One break with tradition was the filing of an online diary as the team made its way across the polar wastes. And, funny I should mention “waste,” because one of the most, umm, interesting entries, penned by one Roger Weatherby, was titled “The Art Of Polar Squatting.” Weatherby claims this entry was made in response to queries from readers, but as we all know this is the sort of topic that becomes alarmingly front and center any time human beings isolate themselves in the wilds. So you just know he had been pondering this topic for many a mile. Happily, he comes up with a very concise breakdown of techniques and strategies. Hilarious…
1. MORNING DIPPER
As practised by Daly and Dags (although Dags has practised all the methods so he doesn’t count). This is a pre-breakfast sortie which requires the stiffest of backbones. It is difficult enough to get out of a nice warm fur-lined sleeping bag into -33ºC, let alone drop our trousers into the eye of a gale. Would suit the sort of people who swim in the Serpentine on Christmas Day.
2. DUTY DONE
As practised by Farquhar. This expedition is post the daily pull and after the camp is set up and the first hot drink is ready. Suited to the sort of man who after a day’s shooting will shampoo, dry and feed the dog; clean, oil and put away his gun, before partaking of the high tea that has been sitting on the kitchen table for an hour. Discipline essential.
3. THE PHARMACIST
As practised by Rog, Geoff and Dags at various times. This relies on Imodium, significantly reducing the frequency or even eliminating the need for participation in the sport. Unfortunately the colon is a canny organ and once it realises it is being fooled, it reacts angrily. This method is no longer in employ.
4. THE RODIN
Named for attitude not pose. This method relies on waiting until the very last minute, or as the French say ‘Le cigar est sur the point de la bouche’, with the ultimate aim of a very quick performance. Get it right and the result is a certain smugness but timing is everything and can result in a similar effect to the Lottery Player (see below).
5. THE LOTTERY PLAYER
No skill to this method and can often be accompanied by shouts of “Where’s the paper?” and general chaos. Side effects include minor embarrassment such as loo paper blowing away before use, or major catastrophe involving anorak hood – luckily the latter has not happened to this team yet.
6. THE STRATEGIST
As practised by Geoff, and very recently by Rog. This is the evolutionary pinnacle of the art and involves using the tent in the 3 minute period between all equipment having been removed from it and loaded on the sled, and then the tent itself is packed up. Although hardly something to practise at home as it is still a -20ºC operation, it is a huge improvement on the -33ºC and mind numbing wind. Timing is everything, too early and one becomes the Lottery Player, and too late one incurs the wrath of the other 4 who are standing in the cold waiting to pack up the tent. Expert aficionados have been known to practise a synchronised version of this method whereby all 4 get into the tent at the same time. This is unlikely to be done by our team due to a lack of practise and a surfeit of modesty.
All in all, dear reader, you can understand that delicate loo roll and large mittens are not compatible and as bare hands and any other exposed flesh can start to freeze within 20 seconds at these temperatures, speed is of the essence. Must dash……………..
Our current position is 89º 22 minutes .55
Approximately 46 miles to the Pole
Hey! I bet Scott didn’t bother with loo paper. Now we just need to hear from the Volvo boats regarding onboard strategies at 30 knots…
Obviously, they didn’t have one of these…