As you read this, a team of adventurers is cross-country skiing their way to the bottom of the world. But this is no ordinary Antarctic expedition – this is the first attempt made by an adaptive athlete to reach the South Pole on a sit ski. Marking the 100-year anniversary when Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova expedition reached the earth’s most remote spot, The Push: South Pole Adventure team is making history. The team is led by Grant Korgan, who injured his spinal cord, has no control of his legs from the knees down and has poor circulation in his feet. To keep his feet warm in the sub-zero temperatures, he’s relying on a Goal Zero portable solar photovoltaic system and some Therm-ic high-tech heated socks, without which he would never be able to reach his goal.
In 2010, Grant Korgan had a disastrous snowmobile accident that damaged his spinal cord leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Over the past year and a half he has made an incredible recovery and regained feeling down to his knees allowing him to walk on crutches. Unfortunately he is still not able to feel his feet, which means his circulation is poor and he has no way of knowing if they are freezing or not. In order to even attempt the amazing feat of crossing Antarctica to reach the South Pole, he had to rig up a reliable system to supply heat to his feet.
Korgan is relying on Amprobe thermocouples on each feet to know the temperature of each foot. He also wears battery-powered heated socks from Austrian company Therm-ic that can be adjusted to provide more or less heat depending on his activity level and the outdoor temperature. Batteries obviously need to be recharged and solar power is the best option for the job so Korgan relies on a Goal Zero Sherpa 120 Adventure Kit. As it is summer down in the Antarctic, the sun is out for the entire day, so as long as it’s not cloudy, the energy resource is readily available.
The Push team is comprised of an adaptive athlete and two guides, along with a photographer, and two videographers. They are experiencing temperatures down to -40 deg C, sticky snow, poor visibility at times and a never ending sea of white and blue. Their goal is to reach the South Pole by January 17th when they will become the first team with adaptive athletes to reach the bottom of the world. You can follow along ontheir journey and hear satellite phone call updates from each day on the The Push: Facebook Page. If you want to support their mission and aid research for spinal cord injuries, you can donate “a push” to help them reach their destination.
Images ©High Fives Foundation, Goal Zero and Therm-ic