On November 12, 2019, Chinese explorer Wen Xu departed from Chile and reached the coast of Berkner Island in Antarctica. He plans to spend about 80 days, pulling a sled weighing more than 180 kilograms, without assistance and no supplies, using cross-country skiing to cross the polar continent alone.
Wen Xu, born in 1987, started climbing at the age of 16. He has climbed 30 peaks, climbed more than 50 snow-capped mountains, and reached the North Pole during college. In May 2018, Wen Xu reached the summit of Mount Everest, and in September of the same year, he trekked across Greenland. In order to cross the pole, Wen Xuhe team prepared for two years. He is challenging a route that has never been completed. Starting from the northern coast of Berkner Island to the South Pole, he crosses the Trans-Antarctic Axel Heiberg Glacier and ends the trip at the Ross Ice Shelf. The whole journey is more than 2,000. km. If completed, this will be a new world record in the history of Antarctic exploration.
From November to January of the next year each year is the Antarctic summer, and it is also the golden period for scientific research and exploration. But Wen Xu’s luggage was detained by Chilean customs and was late for 16 days. The walking time originally scheduled for 85 days had to be reduced to 75 days.
Taking the first step in Antarctica, Wen Xu knew that a contest against time had begun.
The down jacket was blown away by the wind
It was 6 o’clock in the afternoon when I got off the plane, and Wen Xu looked at it, it was endless white. It was a sunny day, the sun was hanging in the sky, and he saw the blue sky and the horizon meet in the distance. Wen Xu stepped on the skis, leaned on the poles, and pulled the sled, trying to get up. He didn’t walk long, and stopped to camp after an hour. Wen Xu found a harder place to set up a tent. He fixed the corners of the tent with snow cones, and then used the snow cover to swing up and down to prevent the manic Antarctic wind from lifting the tent away.
In the Antarctic, all of Wen Xu’s household belongings are mounted on a sled 240 cm long and 60 cm wide. The sled weighs 180 kg, including more than 100 kg of food and more than 20 kg of gasoline. In the polar regions, the difficulty of the adventure increases by one level for every 5 kilograms added. Wen Xu’s sled was already seriously overweight, and he couldn’t even fit a pair of socks.
On the plane, Wen Xu began to plan in his heart. He must keep in mind the specific location of each item. This is a very important job, it will save time and energy for the entire trip. These should have been prepared in advance, but the departure plan was disrupted, making Wen Xu’s trip very hasty.
His wife Hu Jiaojiao served as his expedition manager. After the end of the day’s expedition, Wen Xu will talk to Hu Jiaojiao via satellite phone-report on the day’s progress and physical condition, and discuss the next step. He is carrying a GPS, and the satellite will send back his point every 10 minutes. Through the computer, Hu Jiaojiao can observe Wen Xu’s travel route and speed at his home in Beijing, including the altitude of his location, which is also one of the vouchers for Wen Xu when applying for world records in the future. Every day, Wen Xu had to make a satellite phone call to the expedition support team in the United Glacier Camp. It must be voice, not information. If a call is not received on a certain day, the rescue team will start preparing the plane in 24 hours and arrive at the coordinate point where Wen Xu is located for rescue in 48 hours.
On November 13, Wen Xu officially started walking. He divided the day into 8 segments, walked for 1 hour and rested for 10 minutes. He walked 15 kilometers on the first day, this distance was lower than planned, which made him a little frustrated. After experiencing the luggage storm, Wen Xu wanted to catch up with the trip as soon as possible, but Antarctica still did not show him a hospitable posture.
On the second day of walking, the wind started to rise after lunch, the weather turned overcast, the sky was white, the sun was invisible, and the terrible “white sky” in the legend came. “Milky sky” is a unique weather phenomenon and natural wonder in the polar regions, in which visibility is extremely low. Wen Xu only felt that it was white and could not see anything.
When he stopped to rest once, Wen Xu took off his gloves before putting on a down jacket. A gust of wind came and blew away his gloves. When he went to chase the gloves, the down jacket was also blown away. The down jacket quickly disappeared without a trace, and it still contained $300 in it. Wen Xu ended the trip early and set up the tent. At 7 o’clock in the evening, he called Hu Jiaojiao and said, “I am in a terrible mood today.”
Hu Jiaojiao immediately contacted the security team of the United Glacier Camp and the Norwegian consultant team. United Glacier Camp stated that within two weeks, new down jackets can be delivered by plane. But this means that this expedition cannot be counted as “no supplies”. Wen Xu rejected this plan. “That way, there is no motivation behind me.”
Forget about crossing, forget about the South Pole
What if there is no down jacket? Wen Xu thought that he still had a spare sleeping bag. After camping one day, he drew the design drawings. Cut the lined area of the sleeping bag with scissors, and sew it with a needle and dental floss. The spare sleeping bag is changed into a down jacket. In order to prevent running cashmere, he sewed the stitches very densely. After the down jacket was lost, Hu Jiaojiao communicated with Lars, one of the members of the Norwegian advisory group, and Lars told her a bad news-bad weather for the next week.
Every night, Wen Xu draws a picture
Wen Xu wore a black down jacket, pulled up his collar hat, arched in the snowstorm, pulling the sled to move forward, but could not move at all. The wind speed is almost 30 meters per second, which is close to the level 12 wind.
The weather is bad, Wen Xu ends early every day. There is no safe haven on the white wasteland, Wen Xu will put the tent on the windward side, so that there is a support, the tent is not easy to be damaged. Braving the wind and snow, he got out of the tent and built a snow wall with snow bricks. Every night, Wen Xu draws a psychological scale-draw a picture. One day, he drew a little man crying; another day, he drew a man falling down in a milky world.
The difficult start made Wen Xu very anxious, and his mistakes continued. One morning, he got up and boiled water. The oil leaked from the stove and flowed onto the tent. He didn’t pay attention. When the stove was turned on, the tent was on fire. He hurriedly shoveled snow to fight the fire, and the fire burned his hair, eyebrows, and beard. “The state has not been adjusted well, and it has not been adapted to the environment.” Wen Xu summarized his previous problems.
“Forget about crossing, forget about the South Pole.” Lars reminded Wen Xu through Hu Jiao Jiao, don’t think about the future, focus on exploring, calm and cautious.
In the vast expanse of whiteness, there is another man pulling a sled like Wen Xu-German female explorer Anja Bracha. She and Wen Xu arrived at the starting point at the same time, planning to reach the South Pole in 60 days without assistance and supplies. While chatting, Wen Xu obviously felt the German girl’s competitive spirit-she wanted to be the first to reach the extreme. After getting off the plane, An Jia left without saying hello. Later, Wen Xu learned that An Jia started not sleeping on the first night and walked 20 kilometers.
The loneliest moment
Wen Xu was trapped. For the longest time, he stayed in the tent without leaving a single step for two days. The weather was bad. In the first 10 days of walking, Wen Xu only walked 70 kilometers in total. Most of the time, he was waiting for the weather to improve.
On the afternoon of November 23, the 11th day Wen Xu walked, he walked and saw that the circle in front of him was bright, and when he looked back to the right, the sun had emerged from the clouds. He was very happy and began to sing: “It’s a good spring, it’s better to have a dream…” This was his best day since walking, and he walked 26 kilometers in total.
Wen Xu’s condition is getting better and better. He established a work and rest system, which was strictly enforced like a soldier. Get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to melt the snow and boil water; start walking at 8 o’clock and take a rest every 60 to 70 minutes to replenish water and energy; set up a tent to rest at 8 o’clock in the evening.
When walking, Wen Xu would wear a mask and a sweat-absorbing hat. The windshield often fogged up. He would wear sunglasses and then pull the jacket of the jacket over his head. After walking for a while, the cap inside him can wring out water. Sometimes, the water will flow down the mask, forming a long ice skate on the chin. At the end of the day, Wen Xu’s feet seemed to have been soaked in water for a whole day, and they were all blistered. Wen Xu used a sewing needle to break them. The toenails also began to turn black, and later, two of them fell off.
The most relaxing moment of the day is to set up a tent at night and cook a meal for yourself. Looking at the night when the sky was still bright under the extreme day, he didn’t even know whether he was eating breakfast or dinner.
Eating in Antarctica is like “refueling the car.” “Think of yourself as an engine, and the food you add is fuel. Just pour it into it, don’t care about the taste.” According to the planned number of days of walking, Wen Xu divided the food he brought into 80 packets, each of which was 1.3 kilograms. This pack of things”. In order to supplement calories, Wen Xu also eats 15 grams of butter and 250 grams of potato chips every day.
The monotonous Antarctica has only 3 colors-white snow, blue sky and yellow sun. Sometimes, Wen Xu would say to himself: “There used to be a little white rabbit living in a big forest, and a big bad wolf…” The tone was like telling a story to a child.
On January 9, the youngest daughter was born for 3 months. Wen Xu plans to reach the South Pole on this day. He hurried all night, 40 kilometers away from the South Pole, when he saw a tent, which was owned by the German explorer An Jia who set out with him. An Jia was resting at the time. If Wen Xu did not say hello and left silently, then Wen Xu would be the first person to complete the longest route to the South Pole without assistance and supplies. And An Jia probably knew that he had been secretly passed when he reached the end.
In the polar regions, the competition for “first” has never ceased. In fact, Anjia has been inquiring about Wen Xu through Lars’s side-Lars is also Anjia’s adventure consultant.
But adventure should not be just a “you chase me” game. Wen Xu boiled the water and stopped to rest. “I have gone through the whole process myself. It is really very difficult.” He planned to wait for An Jia. More than an hour later, An Jia woke up, and Wen Xu walked over and suggested, “Let’s go to the end together.” An Jia first rejected Wen Xu, but after she got up, she saw that Wen Xu was faster than her, and suggested “Let’s go together.” As she walked, she regretted it again and wanted to go first, but was chased by Wen Xu several times. The tangled German girl finally agreed to go to the South Pole together.
At 2:50 pm on January 9, local time, Wen Xu reached the South Pole after walking for more than 30 hours. Anjia helped Wen Xu deploy the five-star red flag in front of the South Pole landmark and took a photo. In 58 days, Wen Xu and An Jia simultaneously set a new record for the longest route to the South Pole without assistance and supplies.
After arriving at the camp, the doctor performed a physical examination for Wen Xu, and he was approved to cross, and he could continue his expedition from the South Pole to the bottom of the Axel Heiberg Glacier. But there are two bad news: Antarctic expedition service company ALE requires him to withdraw from the Antarctic continent on January 23, three days earlier than planned. This means that Wen Xu still has less than two weeks to complete the plan of crossing the Vietnam pole, which is too short. ALE originally said that the entire 600-kilometer rescue was no problem, but later said that from this year’s satellite photos, there were 280 kilometers in the second half of the journey due to too large ice cracks, and the aircraft could not land and rescue.
70% of the Antarctic crossing has been completed, and the most difficult stage has passed. Should we give up at this time?
“You can’t control nature, so you have to adjust yourself. But in the real world, if you adjust yourself, you may not be able to solve the problem. It is a more complicated system.” Hu Jiaojiao feels sorry, if the luggage is not late In 16 days, the situation will be very different. She is very cautious and dare not give up lightly. “As long as I say it, it’s like destroying his dream.” There was silence on the phone. “Do you dare to do it again?” Hu Jiaojiao plucked up courage and asked carefully. After a long silence, Wen Xu said “OK.”
On January 23, Beijing time, at 10:30 on the 29th of the New Year, Wen Xu arrived in Beijing. Hu Jiaojiao, who had been waiting at the airport for more than two hours, saw the tip of a sled boat emerge from behind the door, and her tears were almost streaming out. It was late at night when I returned to my home in Beijing, and the children were already asleep. When he woke up the next morning, he and his eldest daughter hugged tightly, “Dad is back.”
One or two years later, Wen Xu plans to wear the pole again.