Antarctica Expedition: Ever since I was little, the uninhabited, little explored continent of Antarctica has made me dream.
For several years now, its highest peak — Mt. Vinson (4900m) — has been calling me.
In addition, for the past two years, skiing to the South Pole (which is 9000ft above sea level —not at sea level as one might think!), has also been on my radar. And I’m even not a skier!
I often say it: We’ve got to follow our dreams so that we don’t look back one day and realize it’s too late.
So, after two years of preparation and one departure cancellation in 2020 due to Covid, on December 1st, I will finally embark for Chile.
Just for myself. To transcend my own limits. To explore. For the pleasure of an extraordinary adventure.
Yes. Though of course, everyone is going to have his/her own perspective. For example, if you’ve just returned from climbing Everest or K2, or a solo trek across the Arctic — Mt. Vinson may be an easy feat.
But for others, including myself, it’s an intense challenge.
I’ll be facing temperatures between -4F and -60C with a penetrating and constant cold, potentially very violent winds, and 8h to 12h of climbing or skiing every day.
We’ll be carrying 25kg packs, plus a sled weighing 50 kg more.
So yes, it’s difficult!
On the technical side: You’ve got to know your knots and how to use an ascender, how to set up camp in a storm, how to handle the extreme cold, and everything that you can only learn through experience.
We’re definitely not attempting Vinson in flip-flops and unprepared !
When we talk physical prep: going to the gym twice a week, doing HIIT sessions, or swimming isn’t enough. And just because you might be 30 years old, have all your teeth and feel like you’re in the prime of your life, doesn’t mean that you can participate in this adventure either!
I follow a very specific and intensely physical training plan designed by Scott Johnston, expert in the field. This includes intense bodybuilding sessions with a 36 lbs weighted vest and heavy weights (which I sometimes share on my @valerieorsoni IGTV or IG Live), cardio (I hate running, but I do it as well as my vintage prop which simulates skiing), and hiking on a 1500 ft vertical drop with a 40 lbs bag. The approach is very scientific, with evaluation of AeT and other load measurements. So, I use a special watch — the Coros Vertix2 — which also measures my oxygen levels.
I wear my shoes (2 pairs) for a little every day in order to break into them more.
The expedition diet is high in carbohydrates. So, to avoid getting sick by suddenly switching from a Keto Smart diet to this one, two months in advance I start adding carbohydrates to my menus: rice, potatoes, etc.
During the expedition we burn thousands of calories per day, so I’m also having at least a stick of butter dipped in sugar (ewww, I know!) every day, in addition to the rich menus.
The logistics of this Antarctica Expedition is a bit on the hellish side because everything has been made more difficult with Covid. Covid passes are complicated to obtain, PCR tests required before taking off and upon landing and quarantine on arrival, add to that a complex equipment load due to the two very different projects (Mt Vinson then the South Pole) requiring different gear, shoes, outfits, etc.
Travel route: San Francisco (PCR before take-off) -> Houston -> Santiago de Chile. 24 hr stopover for a PCR test -> Punta Arenas (5-day “quarantine”) -> Union Glacier in an old Soviet plane, an Ilyushin (4.5 hr flight) -> Mt. Vinson glacier (1 hour flight in small glacier plane).
Several weeks (at least 4) but this number varies depending on the weather, of course.
And yes, I’m going to miss Christmas and New Years with my family because December is the only good time for this expedition!
On that note, I take this opportunity to thank my family for their unwavering support, and especially my son who encourages me and made this dream come true.
It’s up and down. Of course, overall, I’m super motivated. But sometimes I tell myself that I’m not ready, that others will be more prepared, that I might slow them down, that I’ll be the weakest link, that I’m not at the right level, that I have too much pain and doubt. But it’s okay, because doubting forces me to push myself even harder. So, in the end I reckon I’ll actually be super ready!
Yes. As usual, I’ll post an article on this blog as I did for Denali and my other climbs, with a link to the map that will show you my real-time GPS tracker. So you can kick my ass if I don’t go fast enough !
Other than that, there’ll be no signal in Antarctica so no photos or phone service. Nada! After all it’s called Antarctica Expedition not a vlogging expedition lol
With Polar expedition pro, Ryan Walters. The first to REALLY cross Antarctica unassisted. I trained with him in Colorado last April!
Honestly, I’m excited and impatient, kind of like a kid…just so excited to be on Union Glacier. Let the adventure begin! Antarctica Expedition, here I come!
Your Healthy Living & Weight Loss Coach (and also: motivation, meditation, yoga, anti-aging, and…motivation again !)