Wave Vidmar solo and unsupported
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April 24th 04 - At Borneo
It was still a stormy day, the wind howling and battering my tent, with occasional flurries of light snow. This continued on for most of the day. I stayed in the tent for the first half of the day, then later decided to venture out and shoot some pictures. Since it was blowing so hard I wore my goggles to protect my face.
The new leads near my tent gave me plenty to shoot. Towards the evening the clouds started to get less dense and I phoned the expedition travel company at the ice station.
As soon as visibility would increase, they would be leaving to come pick me up. Within a very short time, maybe 20 minutes it suddenly cleared up, the sun came out and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. I gave a live tv interview via satellite phone to CBS from my tent. As soon as I finished I could hear the low rumble of the Russian MI-8 helicopter approaching. I quickly took down my tent and met the large machine as it landed.
Turns out I didn't need to rush, as they had also brought some scientists that needed to drill through the ice and place monitoring buoys. They set about their business and I met the others passengers aboard the helicopter.
Tony Haile, and Chris Hyman, the CEO of Serco, Ben Saunders sponsor, came out to greet me. It was great to see Tony again and meet Chris.
Following right behind them was CBS News from Los Angeles, one of their correspondents and a cameraman. Christian from Cerpolex also greeted me.
As the scientist were busy drilling holes and placing their instruments in the distance, I gave interviews and briefly related some of the highlights of my adventure they were asking me about.
After several hours the pair of scientist were done and we all boarded the helicopter to go meet Ben Saunders and give him his food, fuel, and other supplies so that he can continue on to the pole.
We flew to where Ben was and landed, all got out to see him. He was in good shape, a contrast to my beaten-up appearance. It was really great to see Ben, but I also couldn't help but feel a tiny bit jealous that he would get to continue on to the pole. The Serco team resupplied Ben, while the scientists drilled more holes and placed more monitoring buoys. We said our good-byes, wished Ben luck, and flew off to another location for the scientists to place more buoys.
Eventually we reached Borneo Ice Station, a makeshift runway, with half a doze, large, heated tents, several helicopters on stand-by, and a plane. We all made our way to the dinning tent. It's late, about 4 am in the morning, and there are more people waiting in the tent. There were many questions about my trek, what about my polar bear encountered so on. I got some hot food and enjoyed sitting at a table to eat a meal, first time in nearly two months.
After a while I was ready to sleep and it seemed that finding me a cot was going to be a hassle. So, I opted to sleep outside in my sleeping bag on the frozen ice, no tent. I did, and slept well.
Today I hope I will still get the chance to go to the pole. Fingers crossed!
April 23rd 04 - Still going to visit the pole
Well, looks like its going to be the end of the WorldWideLearn.com North Pole Solo expedition soon. Though many people tried, and went beyond the call of duty and friendship, we just couldn't make things work for a later pickup from the pole.
I'm very sorry to disappoint so many of you. Sometimes there are forces beyond our control, no matter how hard we try, and we have to accept another path.
I'm not too disappointed though. I'll come back from this expedition with a treasure chest of memories and experiences, pictures, video, and the knowledge that going to the pole helped and changed more than just one man. I'm really elated that people, children and adults, were able to share and partake in my, our, adventure.
I'll still have a few more days here out on the ice. I hope you'll continue to follow along. I'll be going to the North Pole in a day or two, and I'd like to share that experience with you all. I got such great feedback from you my visitors. I'm really looking forward to sharing my South Pole Solo expedition with you in November. Being able to relate my experience while out on the ice became a much greater reward for me than I ever could have imagined. Many people have helped me over this last year to get to this point, a place on the globe that few have or will ever get to. These last few days several people were trying very hard to help arrange a later pickup from the pole so I could continue. Dave Cooper, you really impressed and surprised me. Dr. Rich Lee, unbelievable. Lori Nitahara, amazing. Charlie over at Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's office helped get me medicine I need. My sponsor, Angela Lovett and WorldWideLearn.com have supported me since the day we met.
Even though I am just one man trying to fulfill his dream/goal, there are literally hundreds of people and companies that generously gave to help make this expedition possible. I thank you all! Continue to follow along on these last days with me. There are likely to be more surprises and adventure. Tomorrow brings another day and with it another day of opportunity, splendor, and the chance to live out your own dreams and passions.
For those that are interested, you can send me an email to be alerted to when the book, DVD, and/or next adventure will start. Send emails to: email@example.com
And now back to the expedition, it's not over yet!
April 22nd 04 - Will I go or will I stay ?
Sorry my updates have been a bit late these last few days. I know there are many people that read them, look forward to them, and so forth. All hope is not lost! There's a chance that the expedition may continue! Any chance is better than none. Timing is getting tight, as they are still planning to pick me off the ice in about 36 hours. If I get a commitment for the funds to have a later pickup at the pole, I'll be able to continue. Either way, whether I get to continue or I get pulled off the ice early, I'm happy. Of course there would always be disappointment if I don't get to continue, but this has been a richly rewarding experience, mostly because I've been able to touch the lives of so many people around the world. This afternoon I got to speak via satellite phone (thank you World Communication Center, www.wcclp.com), with the Ein Ganim school, Ms. Gorem's class in Israel. Many of the kids had prepared questions, well thought out too, and the whole class sang me a song. It was truly touching and special for me!
In a few minutes I'll speak with Mr. Santana's 3rd grade class at Temple Heights Elementary school in Oceanside, California. Being able to touch these young minds has positive benefits to us all. Hopefully these kids will take their experiences and enthusiasm and apply it towards making our world a better place for us all.
I didn't break camp today, instead I was concentrating on getting everything in place should the funding come through to continue my expedition. I have to arrange for fuel and food resupply, pickup logistics, and a medical supply drop. My doctor, Dr. Rich Lee, went to great lengths to get a package of needed medicines and supplies on its way to me. Thanks again Doc!
My eyes and face swelling is improving. On the inside I'm a 'happy camper', and looks like my exterior will be getting Back to normal soon. My ankle is still painful, but it too us getting better.
I'll get moving fast again in the morning in case the funds come through for me to continue to the pole. Thank you all for your continued support! Today's update is dedicated to Ms. Johnson's class at Loma Vista Resource school in Whittier, California. Thank you very much for your avid interest and support in this expedition. Get it out there, do your best, and you too can achieve things you never thought possible!
April 20th 04 - Take action
Well, looks like I'll be ending the expedition a bit earlier than I had hoped. They want to take me off the ice this weekend, and without an alternative for getting back to land, I'll have to go. I will get to go to the pole however, and this pleases me greatly. I'll have accomplished nearly everything I set out to do, at least everything within my power. I know to some it may appear that I didn't succeed at reaching the pole, solo and unsupported, but to me I gained many successes. I wanted to thank all of the people and children that so graciously wanted to help me continue the expedition. Your thoughts and efforts are deeply moving and truly appreciated. Unfortunately, I needed just over $100,000 in a couple of days - greed is rampant out here.
My eyes are getting better, and I could open both this morning. Still not perfect, but an improvement over yesterday. I did make some miles today, but took it easy. Of course I had to practice my famous 'faceplant' maneuver, and sure enough, I can still do that fine. I also got to swim today, but didn't have to swim too far, only about 30 feet. It was warm (about 5F), and sunny.
I felt more like a tourist today- until I had to swim. I took lots of beautiful pictures and video. I plan to make a DVD and make it available for others to see more of what my expedition was like. Many have commented on the pictures I take. I use two different Nikon digital cameras, a Coolpix 3100 (most of the pics you see are made with that camera), and a Coolpix 5400. These cameras make creating beautiful pictures easy, thanks Nikon. I do have a request of all my visitors and people that have been following my expedition. Inspiration is only part of things, you have to take action. Many of you have followed along with my journey, and I've tried to inspire you. Now take that inspiration and take action. Do something nice for someone else, try something new, maybe help your parents, kids, or even yourself - but take action!
There are three words you'll find on my websites; Envision - dare to dream and create a plan. Inspire - get motivated and charged to do your plan. Accomplish - follow your dream or your plan, take action! Without action, inspiration is merely just feeling good. Write me and tell me what you did, how you took inspiration, and then action to accomplish something.
Today's dedication is to Fréderic Chamard-Boudet. He was one of the other solo polar explorers and his expedition ended very early. I think about you everyday Fréderic, often taking steps on the ice and hoping you can hear and see what I'm experiencing, as if it were you out here too. I look forward to seeing you again, and am glad that you made it back home safely.
Apr 19, 04 - Body-imposed rest day
Still in the same place as I was yesterday. I woke up this morning and my eyes were swollen shut. After some hours I got one open, and finally the other has opened a little. It's likely a skin infection from the frostbite around my eyes and face. The good news is that I have the antibiotics to treat them, and hopefully they'll be better within a couple of days. I plan to ski tomorrow so I hope they will function.
I've also been working on solutions to continue the expedition and reach the pole. My title sponsor, WorldWideLearn.com has been wonderful, and they might be able to help, or at least will help me find another source of funds to hopefully continue to the pole. If so, I'll get a resupply of food and supplies this weekend. If I don't get the funding, they will pick me up this weekend.
Fixed my ski binding, I'm really pleased with the repair I made. It should last through the rest of the expedition. I also did a little more sewing.
It was warm today, and I noticed some ice melting inside my tent. It looks beautiful outside, though for me everything is blurry like I'm supposed to be wearing glasses.
I've gotten used to being out here, alone, in a vast open space with thousands of miles of ever-changing ice. Each mile is unique and offers subtle surprises. There seems to be no logic for some of the ice formations, contours, cracks, leads, and other things that make up this forbidden surface. Each day one is also reminded that you are floating on ice, a tenuous surface, and that miles of deep water is always beneath you.
I didn't attempt this quest to reach the North Pole to 'find myself', or discover more about myself. But one thing is certain, this expedition has changed me, probably in ways that will take years to digest.
I've been very fortunate to be able to come here, to pursue my dream. There have been many people that have gone out of their way, the extra mile to help me get here. I feel truly lucky.
Today's update is dedicated to my main expedition doctor, Dr. Rich Lee. He comes from a prestigious lineage of doctors, has been to Mt. Everest and helped many people there, and has gone way beyond the call of duty to help me in so many ways. Thank you very much Dr. Lee for your care, expertise, and friendship. You are truly a gift to humans.
Apr 18, 04 - Never dull in the arctic
Hello, did you have a nice day? Well, it's been mixed for me. I made some good mileage in faster time than ever before. But I also talked to the company that is handling my expedition travel and it wasn't good news.
They will close Borneo earlier this year, on April 29th. This changes things a lot for me. I was also told the ice conditions are horrendous, so no hope of making 15-25 mile days towards the last degrees. So, now I need to find the money to pay for resupplies and a pickup from the pole at a later date, if I am to reach the pole on my own power. I'm working on my options.
I went through tough ice today. There were some nice large pans, but a good share of pressure ridges and open water leads. Fortunately I didn't need to swim today, being creative to cross open sections. A couple of times I skied over very thin ice, being careful not to break through into the frigid ocean water. Now I'm right at the edge of 86 Degrees latitude! My other ski binding broke, otherwise I would've kept going for a few more miles, but made just about 9. I'll repair it and keep going towards the pole. Physically I'm a train wreck. Yes, that ankle still hurts with every step, but has been helping me get towards the pole. The bigger issue these last few days has been my eyes. For some reason they have been swelling, nearly shut. My vision is blurry and I've lost most of my depth perception. When I'm outside, after about 7 hours with the cold on my face the swelling goes down and I can see better. It's taking me a long time to write my update, and skiing is certainly a challenge. Waiting for a possible answer/cure/remedy from my doctor. Problem is that I likely don't have anything to treat them with me. Nobody said an expedition to the pole was easy.... But I keep trying!
Today's update is dedicated to the kids at 9th grade Academic Reading & Writing Students of Luther Burbank High School, Paris Elementary School, and the other many schools worldwide. Your interest and feedback in my expedition have made me very happy, even at times nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes. Thank you, and I hope I've had a positive influence on you. Remember, you can make your dreams reality, but only if you try!
April 13th 04 - Vidmar swims in the Arctic Ocean and talks to bears...
Wave had to adopt some strange behaviour when, on looking around behind him, the American discovered that three bears were following him and had been, no doubt, for some time. It was an adult female with two cubs. Here is his story :
"Timing is everything. Around 5pm, as I was working hard and pulling my sledge, something was moving off to my left, facing into the sun. I stopped and looked, and there were three polar bears! A mother and her two cubs. They had been walking the same direction as I, and were only about 50 feet away. As soon as I stopped, they stopped. I quickly grabbed my camera inside my sweater and took a picture. Then I went to my sledge, to get my - videocamera! I wasn't afraid based on the polar bears body language. As I got my videocamera and better digital camera the bears slowly approached me. The bears had positioned themselves directly downwind, and mother was taking in big whiffs of my scent. The cubs stayed at moms back legs as they came closer. Meanwhile I'm trying to get my camcorder battery warmed up, and am blowing on it with the warm air from my mouth.
When the bears were about 25 feet away I figured I better let the mother know I'm not a potential dinner for her and her cubs. I let out a 'wu-wu-wu-wu-wu', which sounded like a broken children's toy. The bears stopped, and the cubs hid behind mom's legs. Slowly mom backed away from me, but never taking her eyes off of me. I finally got the videocamera running when the bears were about 70 feet away. Then I started talking very sweetly to them. I told them I wouldn't hurt them, and they had nothing to fear from me. I also told them I was going to the North Pole, and I pointed towards north a couple of times. Then I started calling the bears back to me, slapping my leg and encouraging them to come closer, just like you would a dog. And they came! They stopped about 50 feet away and listened to me talk. I was trying to film them, and also get high-res digital pictures. After a few minutes mom backed away, but always kept here eyes on me and walked backwards away from me. I guess she understood that I was going north, and she and the cubs began walking south. I continued to take a few more pictures, and said goodbye to them. I do carry a shotgun, but have been keeping it buried at the bottom of my sledge, I often don't bring it in the tent at night. I never thought for a moment I would need it.
I wasn't afraid of the mother polar bear and her two very cute cubs. I can't say I'd feel the same way about an encounter with an aggressive male polar bear.
When the bears were out of sight, I felt excited, warm, and peaceful. I also knew for sure that I will reach the pole, and felt even better..."
Apart from this encounter, Vidmar is progressing bravely, despite the repairs he has to carry out every evening (skis, bindings, gloves, etc.) and has just found out that his sledge is taking on water... And especially despite the fact that, on 12th April, he spent almost two hours in the icy water (in his watertight suit, of course) so that he could cross a channel of leads that was proving particularly difficult to negotiate; it was one of the most nerve-racking moments of his trek so far and one that has without doubt left its mark...
April 5th - Vidmar keeps going, despie a sore ankle
Vidmar injured his ankle towards the end of March in an accident; as he was crossing a difficult patch of terrain in a compression zone, the American adventurer's sledge struck the bottom of his leg hard and jammed it against a block of ice. The result was a sharp pain that is handicapping his progress and which does not appear to be getting any better as time goes by... Despite that, Wave is continuing his trek and, confident of finding better terrain for progressing over, he believes more and more that he will be able to reach the Pole in time.
Despite having as many stretches of open water to contend with as before and despite the snow that keeps on falling non-stop. "Since we set out," writes Vidmar, "it has dumped as much snow on the Arctic Ocean in four weeks as there has been in a year!!!". Despite the southerly drift of the pack-ice (Vidmar estimates that it has drifted a total of 17 miles to the North and 45 miles to the South), and of course, despite the pain he has in his ankle and the advice for treating the problem he has been receiving by satellite from his doctor.
March 24, 04 - Rock and Roll
Today was a bit exciting, perhaps more than I would have preferred. Last night I heard several big bangs and cracks, a couple of times the tent even shook. When I started skiing this morning I found a lead had opened up about 75 yards away from my tent.
I finished skiing to end of the large pan I started on yesterday. It wasn't too long before I reached 83 degrees! Finally! I didn't drift North at all last night, in fact drifted half a mile south. And I've been drifting many miles east and west. A few more pans and pressure ridges, along with a couple of leads, and I came to an area where many large pressure ridges and leads were converging.
After crossing one lead I came to a larger one, with open water, some ice blocks, and a tall pressure ridge on one side. There was no way around it so down into the lead I went. Half way through I got my second dose of Arctic sea, and put my left leg into the ocean, up to my thigh.
My first thought was annoyance, then to get my leg out quickly. I ran for snow and quickly began rubbing snow all over my wet leg and boot. I had gotten more wet this time, and could feel cold water greeting my toes. My second thought was wondering how bad this might become. I decided to press on and push the water and moisture from my boot and pants by work heat/pressure.
Though cold, stiff, and a bit heavier, I figured my foot would be okay. I finished getting my sledges through the lead only to encounter more leads, nearly all with portions of open water. It seems as though the ice could feel my presence, and was unhappy about it. The ice all around me started making lots of noise and soon there were many large blocks of ice in full motion.
At one point all the ice around me was in motion, and to some it may have seemed as though my world was falling apart. Of course, I thought it would be a good time to relieve my self, while large blocks of ice were falling and heaving just a few yards away.
Once relieved I decided I had better not hang around and got myself and sledges into action. As I began to cross more leads, it seemed the ice was speeding up. Several times I and the sledges crossed over moving and grinding ice only to see our 'path' disappear right behind me. It was like being at an amusement park and regretting the choice of rides.
I crossed about a dozen of the leads and made my way to a larger pan and solid ice. Whew, that was an exciting several hours.
Both feet/legs have now been christened in the sea, and I was rocking and rolling on ice. Enough excitement for one day. I did want to part by saying thank you for your comments on my website. I'm glad that I'm having a positive impact on others and helping inspire people. I truly appreciate the feedback and am glad some of you are enjoying reading about my adventure to the North Pole.
March 23, 04 - Sundogs and enchildadas
Ah, finally, some large pans. Though not completely flat and smooth, a big improvement over the last several days. Also, the fresh snow had frozen a bit, offering less resistance and should continue to improve daily. Got a late start, but the weather was nice, the wind changed to a favorable direction, and made a few miles today. I'm just about a mile from 83 degrees! With a little luck I should drift into the next latitude by the morning. Besides some large pans, there were plenty of pressure ridges, some looking as though they'd like to eat my sledges. I managed to get through them and only fell on my face once today, an improvement. Seems a polar expedition is a contact sport.
It's still cold, about -35c, but felt hot. In fact, for many of the last days (except yesterday) I ski most of the time wearing just a sweater and pants with thermal underwear on underneath. Sometimes I get so hot I have to take off my hat, no joke. I continue to eat tasty meals, tonight's dinner was cheese enchiladas with strawberry shortcake. I'll cook up some scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon for breakfast. I'm not suffering in the food department...
Each day my desire to reach the pole increases. Yesterday I got fairly beat-up, both mentally and physically. Today was a nice change from that. I've still got a long way to go, but I know that each day brings me closer to my goal.
Today saw more sundogs, the 'rainbow' of the Arctic. They always help improve my spirit. I haven't seen the aurora lights since Khatanga. Being stuck in Siberia is thankfully a distant memory.
Sorry no picture yesterday, I was having some technical difficulties. Everything is sorted out now. Signing off from the comfort of my damp and chilly sleeping bag. Wave
March 22, 04 - 82 just won't let go
I should've known better. When I woke up this morning the sun was out and the sky was clear, though the wind had reversed 180 degrees. Which means I got to work with wind hitting me directly in the face, and robbing me of hard earned miles.
To date, the most mileage I've done in one day was while lying in my tent waiting out a storm! Those 'free' 10+ miles I've now paid for several times over.
It was a very hard day with little to show for the immense amount of energy expended. It snowed last night, which made it warmer, but also made pulling the sledges like pulling in glue.
Funny, it snows on average less than 10 inches a year up here. I've already had 35%+ of the yearly total in just over two weeks.
It was also hard work as I had pulled/tore a shoulder muscle last night. Sleeping was painful, and I didn't get much of it. When I got up this morning I checked my GPS only to find I had been blown back 2 miles Of course my day wouldn't have been complete without falling on my face several times. It's especially fun on glassy and sharp-edged ice covered by fresh snow.
Needless to say, I wasn't a happy camper today. I got a bit of frostnip on my nose, but not like the frostbite on my finger. The wind was searing, turning a pleasant -25c into a painful -50c. I had icicles 3 inches long hanging off my chin and nose.
But don't despair, I'm not. Even with all the 'little' problems, mileage lost, injured body parts, and rough terrain, I'm more determined than ever to reach the pole.
And yes, some might say I'm a little bit crazy, like my friends at Reeds Sport Shop (have concluded/knew). The words 'perseverance' and 'determination' are often in my mind. I hope that I will not only inspire you, but also encourage you to take action in your own life. You've got one life to live, make the most of it. Or as I like to say "It's a delicious world out there, take a big bite!"
Mar 21, 04 - Ground Hog day is over - I hope
Have you seen the movie "Ground Hog Day", where Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day over and over? It's been somewhat like that for me for the last four days, though finally today was a bit different.
More pack ice today, but more pans too. Pans are the best, little or no obstacles and 'hills' of snowdrift. Did encounter a hungry lead that threatened to eat both my sledges but managed to get them out - not without some souvenir bruises to show for my efforts.
The weather was strange, and in fact at this very moment it's snowing - again. The day started off clear, then clouds came in quickly and obscured the sun, making navigation difficult. They cleared and the sky was a brilliant deep blue. Then more clouds, some snow, more clearing skies, more clouds and snow. All this in one day.
At least the wind was blowing from the southwest, which means I'm drifting northeast - towards the pole. I'm a little more east than I need to be but it's okay because eventually I'll start to drift west.
Often on a Sunday morning I would be enjoying a relaxing brunch of fresh bagels, lox (smoked salmon), and cream cheese with a generous glass of orange juice. I let this thought fill my head most of the day and it made me happier. Also, the extra padding on my harness helped a lot. And for the first time my sledges felt slightly lighter. Lately I've been making equipment repairs almost nightly. The cold takes it toll on just about everything. Tonight I repaired more electrical cables and sewed some tears in my outer-gloves.
I'm getting close to finally being out of the 82 degree latitude, about 6 miles away from 83! I'm still on track to reach the pole!!
If you notice in the picture, you can see the right-hand side of a 'sundog', which I got to see for several hours today.
SOURCE : Vidmar's website
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