<![CDATA[Going Home]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262287 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_181182_scale.jpg'><br />It's been a crazy week in Antarctica and I apologize for not writing more but I have been caught in a cloud of both terrible weather and despair. Of course, neither is really that bad as I am both healthy and safe, but the conditions have taken a toll on my psyche over the past few days.<br /> <br /> After aborting my Last South Expedition over a week ago, I skied an additional 60 miles north (away from the pole) to a remote ski way and rendezvous point with an Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions Twin Otter. I ended up flying to the pole, where I was stranded by more bad weather for three days. It was hard to sit in relative comfort after such an intense effort and mulling over the previous three weeks did little to improve my mood. Worse, we were stranded at the pole by yet another blizzard.<br /> <br /> The weather finally cleared briefly and I was able to fly back to Union Glacier. Once there, it was yet another waiting game as this season's Antarctic weather is the worst and most unusual in the past decade. Flights into normally stable Union Glacier had been backed up for over a week due to the snow and warm air pushing in from the Weddell Sea. Groups climbing Vinson Masif, Antarctica's tallest mountain, had been stuck at base camp for eight or nine days with the potential of two or three more by the time I left at midnight last night. Snow at the South Pole like a Colorado blizzard, deep snows along the Hercules route, snow and white out for a week at Union Glacier. This year's Antarctic weather has been challenging for more than just my solo expedition. On the logistics side of things, there were groups in Union Glacier who had been waiting to fly out since December 8th or so. Crazy.<br /> <br /> I don't like to make excuses and I'm even less fond of complaining, but the weird weather feels vindicating in some regards. I've always felt that I partake in polar expeditions regardless of the weather but this past May's crossing of the Greenland ice cap pretty much tossed that one out the window. Then, these past few weeks, the crazy snow and warm weather. I still keep going over my rate of travel in my head trying to find a way in which I could have gone faster. It wasn't possible.<br /> <br /> Had I been doing a longer crossing where daily mileage would have needed to be 12-15 nautical miles, it wouldn't have been an issue, but there simply wasn't enough time in the day to make that amount of daily distance at the rate in which I was traveling.<br /> <br /> So now, I'm ok with that. As cheesy as it sounds it's part of the process. Still, falling short is a funny thing. It can be so intense and over whelming while seemingly career-ending. But as I turn over my failure over the past few days, it has become a much more positive experience than anything. Seriously. For nearly two decades, I have focused on these big objectives with very small margins of success. Any given snapshot of any of those adventures would yield more pitfalls and failures than anything else - even when I've reached my final goal or objective.<br /> <br /> There is a bigger stress as well. Being successful at the 'business' of being a professional adventurer in the US is tenuous at best. While talking about failure and overcoming obstacles is (in my opinion) a fundamental tenet of an honest blog post, creating a viable income based on unrealized goals is more challenging than any world record expedition. The stress of making so many difficult decisions on my own with so much at stake feels like an unbearable weight on most days. So when I received a heartfelt letter of support from the team at Citizen, I broke down (again) and cried. It takes a strength and integrity to stand behind someone in their lowest moments.<br /> <br /> The delay at Union Glacier was heartbreaking especially since it meant missing Christmas with my family. But today, having squeaked out a last minute Ilyushin flight and then a Latam flight to Chile, I feel lucky to be en route home. All these experiences success, failure, loneliness, whiteouts, the idea and importance of home and my family... these are not new thoughts or concerns, but with little other stimuli in extreme environments like Antarctica they become my entire reality. On the ice, I focus on one step at a time. In flights from the southern tip of Chile to Denver, I keep that same focus. Life is an expedition.<br /> <br /> Mine is a long journey and Antarctica is one of many cold places that I have long loved and advocated for. I am excited to get back to Colorado. I have spent five months of 2019 on different expeditions, almost half the year. Equally important to me, however, is to continue my efforts to give these unique environments a voice and help to tell their story. There is no question in my mind that the unusual weather in Antarctica this year is due to a warming climate where the resulting chain of events brought a nearly unending series of warm, wet air masses barreling across Antarctica, the coldest and driest place on the planet.<br /> <br /> Image: Skiing at Union Glacier, Antarctica&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262287'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Wed, 26 Dec 2018 14:55:03 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262287 -33.0075 -70.0112 <![CDATA[Day 24. At South Pole?]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262286 By an ironic twist of fate, I have arrived somewhat unceremoniously at the South Pole. While my initial hope was to ski here in record time, the reality is that I have reached the pole (this year) on a small plane called a twin otter.<br /> <br /> After turning around at roughly 86 degrees South a few days I go, I skied back to the remote skiway (landing strip on snow for airplanes) at a place called Thiels corner. Down hill and with a tail wind, it was still a struggle to make miles. Luckily the weather was decent with good visibility (for the most part). My sled was incredibly light as I only had a few days of food and fuel inside. Mentally, it was difficult to still be skiing long days knowing that I would not be successful in this expedition that I had been for so long dreaming.<br /> <br /> I've always said that in Antarctic polar travel you very quickly come up against who you are as a person. With no other distractions or visual stimuli, your mind is all that you have. Your successes. Your defeats. The stupid things you said at party 10 years ago... all of it is paraded right in front of your eyes. Any veneer of strength is stripped away. It was hard for me to ski backwards in defeat. At times, I feel physically sick with anguish over my decision.<br /> <br /> A little while after I arrived at Thiels, the twin otter landed to refuel en route to the South Pole with a group of tourists. There was an empty seat on the plane and I was invited to join. I hesitated a bit but jumped on. After all, it would be better than simply sitting my tent alone for the night while waiting for the plane to pick me up on its way back.<br /> <br /> At the pole, I was greeted by my old friend and prior expedition partner Ryan Waters who just finished guiding a "last degree" trip. Together we have been on many grueling adventures and if anyone could cheer me up, it would be Ryan.<br /> <br /> It was a bit surreal to be thrust back into life with chairs and plates and actual conversations with other human beings, but I was tired too... that deep tired that takes several days to recharge from.<br /> <br /> Now, I am still the South Pole camp in a heated tent laying on, of all things, a cot. It is snowing and blowing outside and had I been still traveling on my expedition, yet another snowstorm would have surely stopped me in my tracks. My decision to end my expedition, it seems, was a good and sensible one.<br /> <br /> In talking with other people here, it turns out that this has been one of the more crazy weather years here with more snow and more frequent snows than anyone can remember experiencing. In fact, it even rained near the ALE "penguin camp" near Berkner Island, a very unusual occurrence.<br /> <br /> The bad weather also means that I am stuck at the pole for at least another day or two. This is how remote travel in places like this works; however, having been gone for nearly six weeks now, I miss my kids.<br /> <br /> Still, just like on my expedition, I am focusing on the positive and for now it's the fact that any direction I go from here brings me closer to home. <br /> <br /> And one final message to my summer intern Gus - I have your Glacier Rescue banner with me and will get a picture at the South Pole for you!&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262286'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Wed, 19 Dec 2018 20:10:02 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262286 -89.999 -80.1245 <![CDATA[Day 21. Farthest South]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262285 "I'd rather be a live donkey than a dead lion," -Earnest Shackleton<br /> <br /> I'm writing this email with a heavy heart and tired legs. I have been pushing South toward the pole for three weeks now and have, unfortunately, reached the end of my ability to continue. <br /> <br /> In planning for this adventure, I made an "all or nothing" decision with my supplies. I would bring 23.5 days of food and fuel that could be stretched to 26 if need be. Even with my miserly saving on rations over the past week to extend that timeline even further, I don't have enough to reach the pole. It would be close, but it would also be outside the realm of what I consider safe.<br /> <br /> The weather this year has been my biggest adversary. The constant snow (Antarctica is a desert ironically) has impeded my progress significantly. For the last three days, I was making 1.5 nautical miles per hour. My slowest rate of travel to date. While I know weather and surface conditions change. The weather and snow this year are exceptional - not to mention the whiteouts - life sucking voids of nothingness. Surprisingly, it has been relatively warm (which is the reason for the snow and whiteouts). I don't have much wiggle room in my schedule and already I had cut my sleep down to four hours a night hoping to make up distance. For the past two weeks, I have been skiing for 15 hours a day.<br /> <br /> There is Michael Phelps who won all the gold medals and "the other guy" our culture doesn't celebrate second place or almost and so in that regard I feel like a failure... And I have cried long and hard over this. Still in comparison to the rest of the world and the struggles that plague our society my small defeat is insignificant really. Of course, that doesn't make it hurt any less.<br /> <br /> I am a firm believer in failing forward. To me any great undertaking is a process not a singular destination and I have come up short on grand adventures many, many times before. (It never gets easier). The insights gained here and now will, in the not so distant future, provide valuable insights into overcoming the next difficulty I encounter. <br /> <br /> To all my sponsors, thank you for your support. Simply me being here is no small part due to your efforts as well. Thank you again.<br /> <br /> To friends, family and other supporters another huge ThANK YOU. I have felt the positive encouragement over the past month.<br /> <br /> To my wife Maria and my kids... you have born the biggest brunt of my passion at the ends of the earth, yet you continue to love and support me. For much of my life, I have never really felt "comfortable" in my place in the world, but for the first time now feel that I have a home which completely overshadows any expedition- successful or not.<br /> <br /> For now, I am turning around to ski back to the Thiels skiway to await a pick up by either a twin otter or DC-3. It should take me two days to ski there but after that it is hard to say what the weather will do so my overall timeframe is uncertain. Luckily, there is an emergency stash of food and fuel there so I won't go hungry.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262285'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Sun, 16 Dec 2018 04:13:03 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262285 -85.8208 -81.2041 <![CDATA[Audio Update - 15 Dec]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262284 A new remote audio post has been added to the blog...&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262284'>View Post...</a>) Sat, 15 Dec 2018 03:48:07 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262284 <![CDATA[Audio Update - 14 Dec]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262283 A new remote audio post has been added to the blog...&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262283'>View Post...</a>) Fri, 14 Dec 2018 04:50:59 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262283 -85.6893 -81.1161 <![CDATA[Audio Update - 13 Dec]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262282 A new remote audio post has been added to the blog...&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262282'>View Post...</a>) Thu, 13 Dec 2018 01:48:07 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262282 -85.4152 -81.2637