Following on from my previous post on an excerpt from Maurice Herzog’s ‘Annapaurna’, I thought I would share with you another short but interesting musing, this time on the motivations for going on adventures and how they are portrayed/sold by those that go on them.

The source is ‘The Long Haul‘ by British polar traveller Alex Hibbert. The book recounts Alex and George Bullard’s quite remarkable return crossing of the Greenland Icecap, which was at the time in 2008 the longest unsupported and unassisted polar journey in history (1374 miles). They were only 21 and 19 years of age respectively.

This excerpt comes from the early part of the book, and is an interesting take on the ethic of adventure.

This curious combination of both selfish drive and empathy has a critic in Mike Horn. He said ‘Anyone who does what I do and says it’s for science or for the blind or deaf, they’re full of it. It’s just an excuse. Really, you can’t keep yourself alive out there for charity. You do it for yourself. You come back for family. But you go out for yourself’. I am the first to admit that I saw charity fund-raising as a fortuitous side-product of my plan, not the purpose itself.

The trend I wanted to distance myself from was the fashionable environmental bandwagon. I studied environmental biology at university and care deeply about the fate of the natural world. However, the token inclusion of ‘to raise awareness of global warming’ in expedition brochures in the hope of more funding for a adventure holiday is to me vacuous. The fact that to gain credibility, every organisation needs to’ carbon offset’ and have other badges of dubious value, is evidence that the ‘green revolution’ is running out of control. This is largely due to half truths which spread like wildfire amongst an audience which is not always fully aware of the incatracies of environmental science.

This, alongside other common media-hooks, included invented ‘world records’ which become more and more pointless and obscure with wholly unrealistic predicted temperatures. I read a claim on a website that an Antarctic expedition would endure temperatures of minus eighty. This is close to the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth at Vostok Base and would never be approached in the summer. Surely a return to honesty and simplicity is the right path.

Professional Polar Traveller

About the Author Ash Routen

I’m a postdoctoral exercise scientist by day, and cold expedition adventurer (for want of a better term) and outdoors and health writer by night. I’m based in Leicester in the UK, but I also spend considerable time in Cambridge where my partner lives. To find out more about me, visit my about page or take a look at my published writing.

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