David has done a fantastic job of summarising the activities each day so I won’t repeat them. I’ll reflect on the experiences and gains.
I must admit I went into the trip without any expectations, just an open mind and I stayed humble when I met my travel companions, ranging from the best and brightest from companies around the world to people so passionate about Antarctica they had saved their whole life to afford this trip. These people already knew everything there was to know about Antarctica before even making their first landfall; visiting was just the natural culmination of their life’s efforts so far. I learnt to admire the passion these people showed. It was infectious and I know understand why we must protect this last great wilderness.
- To speak to as many of the participants as possible as head their stories from around the world
- To volunteer first for every opportunity that arose during the trip
- To spend as little time as possible in my cabin (why travel to Antarctica and stay in your cabin?)
- Continue the development started during the 2041 lecture programme
In pursuit of the first goal I think I sat with 80-90% of the participants and guides. The stories are incredible, from Indians trying to breakout of the Middle classes and ending up to help govern their home provinces with 10millions inhabitants to sustainability leaders taking 7 years to setup an “environment base” to educate others about Antarctica to a guy who has visited North Korea. The trip was replete with diversity – there were 3 film crews alone on the trip along with research scientists conducting pioneering research into the degradation and dispersal of waste plastics. Every story was fantastic and where else do you get to mix with such an eclectic group? Socially it was exciting – I’ve never danced a tradition Indian dance to Bollywood music….
In respect of the second goal I did EVERYTHING, from the polar plunge to being the lead of the lead rope team down a glacier… I loved every second. I went on every excursion, every landfall, the survival night and more… Here I am leading the rope team (we are tied together in teams of 8 for safety in case the lead (me) falls down a crevasse)…
I am so happy I had the third goal as this meant I spent the most time on deck and consequently I was one of only 5 people to win a prize on the trip from Rob Swan… The ‘on deck’ prize – for the person who made the most of every second possible – coming from such an inspirational legend this is something I will cherish forever. Truly I wish I didn’t need sleep so I could have spent more time outside.
I enjoyed the lecture programme Rob had arranged and I learnt a lot about how to present as well as soaking up the actual content of the programme. I think I continue the leadership programme which was based on a book called “finding your true north”.
I’d like to think I achieved all the goals I set all plus I have two more goals now…
- Visit Antarctica again in my lifetime
- Work to protect it
I’ve made some lifelong friends, forged in the Antarctic desert. When you experience something like that as a team you can’t help but end up permanently bonded and I already have invites to visit my new friends in Monaco, India, USA, UAE and more…
Thank you to Kevin, Dawn, Shaun, Phil, Rob Swan and everyone who made this possible and encouraged me to go and Dave for keeping me sane on the immense flights to the end of the world.
Lastly thank you to my girlfriend for putting up with all my stories that now start “when I was in Antartica…”