Polar Explorer Eric Larsen
Attack of the Pack...ing
overcast and 50 degrees F
11 November 2009 | Punta Arenas, Chilet
Polar travel is all about routine and repetition. Basically, you find a formula that works - get up eat, travel, eat travel, set up camp, eat, sleep - and repeat it as many times as it takes to be successful. For our trip to the South Pole, we will most likely have to repeat the formula 52 times.

Today's routines were somewhat different, but still operated on the same principle. Our task: pack all of our food for the next 60 days (we carry and extra week of meals with in case of emergency or bad weather). Easy right?

Well... First, you have to consider that our caloric needs increase during our trip. For starters, we will usually eat almost 5,000 calories per day. Then after seven or eight days, we will bump this up to 5,500. After six weeks we will eat around 6000 calories with the option of pushing upwards toward 6,500 calories per day.

Next, consider the personal preferences of each team member - Dong likes only creamy-based soups. I'll eat about anything but given a choice I'll take chicken noodle for 60 days straight no problem. Bill likes lemon flavored Clif Builder Bars. I'm not a big fan of lemon anything.

Lunch was the biggest logistical problem. As with all the other meals we will eat a bit less for the first week, then increase portions slowly. While we call it lunch, really it's more snacks than a sit down meal and we eat the following items throughout the day: 100 grams of gorp, 100 grams of chocolate, three Clif bars, one package of Clif shot bloks, one 4-person portion of soup, 50 grams of cheese, 50 grams of salami and four pieces of candy. Dong and Bill set up an assembly line packing each item carefully, and from what I could surmise, added a little bit of love as well.

Finally dinners. A standard freeze-dried portion (actually it is considered two portions) is about 700 calories. Unfortunately for us, that is not nearly enough. So, we have to open up each dinner, add some extra protein (freeze-dried chicken) fat (olive oil) and carbs (mashed potato flakes) and then repackage the meals into another lighter bag. Remember we have to pull all this stuff!

It was a big relief to get all of our food organized and rationed. This task had been weighing heavily on me for the past few days as a large part of our success depends on the quality, quantity and proportions of food. Too little and we don't have enough energy to move forward. Too much and we are so weighted down that are progress is debilitatingly slow.

What routines will tomorrow bring? I'm not telling. While repetition may be king, I still like a surprise or two.

Image: One of the many 'staging' areas during our packing. Dinners are placed organized by person, days of the trip and cache placement.

Remember, it's cool to be cold. Save the Poles. Save the planet.

For more information, please visit www.savethepoles.com

For information about guided Antarctic expeditions, please visit http://www.antarctic-logistics.com/

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