Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Determination and Willpower

In the book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, his harrowing tale of
personally summitting Mount Everest (29,028 feet) on May 10, 1996,
he relates another climber's words:
                  If anything goes wrong, it will be a Fight to the End.
                  If your training is good enough, Survival is there.
                  If not, Nature claims its forfeit!

Recently, I read about two adventurers (of our generation) with 
Major Achievements!
Their spirit, tenacity and energy exemplify the foregoing climber's words.

Rune Gjeldnes

Norwegian, born in 1971, he holds records of the longest ski journey without being resupplied and the longest ever ski journey. He is the only person to ski across the North Pole, the South Pole and Greenland without resupplies.

            His two greatest achievements in the polar world are:
            Arctic Ocean (2000) crossing the Ocean without resupplies
            The Longest March (2006) in the crossing of Antarctica
            from Queen Maud Land over the Pole and on to Terra Nova Bay.

1998 was the Year of Adventure for Rune with 6 different expeditions 
around the world. (North Pole expeditions, crossed Baffin Island in northern Canada, climbed Mount Aconcagua...22,831 feet in the Andes Mountains).

David Hempleman-Adams

A British Englishman, his life goal was to complete the Grand Slam!
            An explorer must walk to the North and South geographical Poles,
            reach the North and South magnetic Poles
            and climb the highest summit in each of the 7 continents
            including Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro.

In 1998, these two explorers, Rune and David, reached the North Pole on
April 28. In their journey, they spent 55 days trekking across 600 miles of
snow and ice and slept out in the frozen expanse ...with just each other. 
This was David's 3rd attempt to reach the North Pole.

Despite their experiences and combined expertise, Hampleman-Adams and Gjeldnes faced unknown terrain and unpredictable dangers. Pressure ridges 
up to 12 metres high, interspersed with strength-sapping frozen rubble, form suddenly when the ice floes crash into one another. Life-threatening crevasses and pools of Arctic open water would appear when they cracked apart. 
There were days when they'd be lucky to cover 300 yards and then float
back again 5 or 6 miles while asleep in their tents. “In comparison,” David 
stated, “Everest was easier.”

It was amazing,” he wrote, “we were having breakfast when we heard a jet 
go over. We're here freezing, having dehydrated food, while they're probably having their champagne and lobster. And do you know where I wanted to be? Here, because my hard-fought goal is to reach the North Pole!”

There were, of course, some hair-raising moments. Open water, as wide 
as a river, is a rare sight in the Arctic and one which, possibly, is the biggest danger to the expedition.” The Anglo-Norwegian team spent 2 days trying 
to find a way across the icy waves.

At the end of a 600-mile and 57-day journey across creaking ice, David Hempleman-Adams stepped into the history books as
The First Person to Complete the Adventurers' Grand Slam”!
The arrival at the top of the world accomplished an 18 year odyssey that had dominated his life. He had claimed one of the greatest prizes in exploration
...April 28, 1998.

David could now look at himself in the mirror and assuring with a resounding affirmative, the question which had goaded him on to greater heights. 
For it was the words with which Margaret Thatcher's father frequently 
berated his daughter:
It is easy to be a starter,
but are you a finisher?”
which at times kept him going. When he had read this in a novel written by her,
he ripped the page out to carry in his pocket...his daily inspiration!

Other Facts:

David Hempleman-Adams began each day at around 6 am. with a breakfast 
of a litre of tea and a litre of hot muesli. It is all “shovelled into my mouth disgustingly quickly before it freezes over.”

On a cold day he would expend 12,000 calories, six to eight times the adult average. Even with the high-calorie diet, he'd lose about a pound a day 
because the human body can absorb no more than 6,000 calories in 24 hours. 
As the pounds fall off, he'd lose strength, adding more pressure to the race against the encroaching summer and melting ice sheets.

The first hour of each day is always the hardest,” he said. “The cold is so debilitating that you lose half your strength. After a time you become more acclimatized , but at the beginning, just an hour is more than you can take.


These adventuring explorers had “set the bar high”
to achieve the pinnacles of their personal challenges
based on their knowledge,
their physical capabilities,
their strong mental and emotional drive
to achieve what may be possible...
their determination and willpower to claim success
in their individual endeavours.

Each year we hear or read about individuals who set goals for
high achievements ~ some succeed.

Marilyn Bell, a Canadian at age 16, was the first to swim across Lake Ontario from near Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto at time of the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition).

Recently, a British woman successfully crossed Antarctica on skis ~ solo ~ pulling 2 sledges with her provisions.

A North Burlington man recently rowed the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Barbados ... to not only test himself, but to “discover his self”.

Consider the battles...physically, emotionally and the temptations to quit the effort.  Yet, through determination and willpower, they fought to the end
...and Won!

Aspirations and passions are not always of an athletic nature. Research scientists
devote their lives...creating solutions to benefit mankind in medicine, in technology, in space programs...for example. Experiments and tests may fail,
yet their dogged convictions propel them into discoveries.


Our lives are continually presenting challenges for us to Accept or Reject.
The Choice is Ours!

As a beacon before our eyes, let us strive to challenge ourselves.
It is not expected of us to set goals of such lofty heights as Rune and David.

Consider these Words of Wisdom:

The harder the conflict,
the more glorious the triumph.

The honour of the conquest
is rated by the difficulty.
(Baron de Montesquieu)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written January 19, 2012
Comments appreciated...scroll down (may sign in as “anonymous)

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