Dispatches From the South Pole, Entry 4: Acclimating

Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on December 2, 2011

The Polar Vision team has started on their trek to the South Pole. Here’s the latest update, this time from Andrew Jensen.

Today was a milestone for the Polar Vision team. After five days, we’ve crossed 81.5 miles — traveling further than we ever had before as a team. Furthermore, we experienced our first day of katabatic winds. Antarctica is a cold place, it is even colder when it is moving at you at 25 knots an hour. At that speed, the wind penetrates every chink in your armor. Any zipper partially unzipped or garment not overlapping is exposed to the elements. At these temperatures, skin can freeze in under thirty seconds, so we have to be precise.

Now that our two years of preparation have been tested by five days in the Antarctic, what have we learned:

1. Risk Management
Hands freeze, why not tape mittens to ski poles, so the user is forced to wear them? Why not sew face masks to goggles to make things easy for the skiers? Why not sew boot insulators onto ski boots? Making these decisions automatic has made things easier now when we are tested.

2. Individual Performance
Skiing, packing sleds, eating in the cold. These are things that have to be practiced, and over time, with practice, we get better at them. We carefully measure the distance we cover each day, our total travel time, and our break time so we can monitor our performance — and we are improving faster than we thought.

3. Team Performance
Setting up a tent, cooking meals, digging a bathroom. These are things that need teamwork to accomplish. We keep as much of the processes to accomplish these tasks consistent each day. The members know their roles and can come up with innovations to make things better over time. Furthermore, we keep two separate teams, so each team can approach process improvement with a fresh mindset. We have nightly comparisons over our team tasks to share ideas that make things even better.

So, the conditions will continue to take their toll on us. The team will continue acclimate as we travel the remaining 500 miles to our goal. We are are very excited to test ourselves against the Antarctic conditions.

In late September we introduced you to team Polar Vision, Alan Lock, Richard Smith, and Andrew Jensen, three recent MBA grads who are trekking to the South Pole to raise awareness for visual impairment. While on their journey, the team will be filing periodic blog posts. This is their fourth post.

Reader Comments

Joanne Ritter

December 2, 2011 1:33 PM

A shout out to the Polar Vision Team! Kudos on your progress! As our folks will tell you -- it's all about teamwork. You can accomplish miracles!

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