More learning curves in 2016
Another freezing winter in Alaska, laying under the Northern Lights for the first time, planning a dream Expedition, visiting my friends and family for the first time in three years and preparing for big things… 2016 has been a massive year.
Good moments in Alaska during the year
2016 started off on a perfect note as I enjoyed an ice cold beer on an El Salvador beach with my brother Drikus. I knew it was going to be a big year, but at that moment I had no idea how many turns this five-year adventure of Around 7 Continents will take.
On January 7, I jumped onto a plane, heading back to Alaska. I was still in my swimming shorts and t-shirt when I walked out of the Fairbanks airport, straight into a dark moonless night of -25°C.
This time I was not heading out to pitch my tent, but into a warm house with my beautiful girlfriend.
Being in a house was a crazy adjustment. It might not sound that crazy, but for me this was very weird! For the first time in over two years I had a base camp, which had a roof, bed and stove to do some cooking. Even showering was an “issue”! I was in an routine of getting up in the morning, eating and to start moving. It took me over a month to get back into routine of showering every morning.
I was in Alaska for only two weeks before we drove down to Anchorage to pick up my new fatbike that was sponsored by Fatback Bikes in Anchorage, Alaska. This was such a great start to the year and the first motivation to start planning a big Expedition.
Picking up the big boy
The winter in Fairbanks was nice and had the chance to meet some great locals who are very adventurous and want to be out to play as much as possible.
I had the chance to join these awesome guys on weekends trips to the White Mountains, and had the chance to learn from them, being use to the extreme colds and being out there doing fun things!
Out and about in Alaska
It was in the final weeks of February when I decided to plan a big Expedition, which will help me with the Antarctica crossing.
I had a few location options which I debated (to myself), going through all the positives and negatives about all of them. It was not long before my No.1 on the list was Siberia… the one location that grabbed my attention on my first visit as I cycled thought the winter across Kazakhstan, Siberia and Mongolia.
Some pics during the winter expedition in season 2014/15
I was extremely exited about this expedition, especially when I got my route sorted. It soon became my next obsession, as I was already working overtime, squeezing the most I could out of one day.
Being “in one place” definitely have it perks… I had the chance to see the Northern Lights on numerous occasions, spend time with my girlfriend, went out on a weekend seeing dog sledding in action, met great photographers and start to build networks in a country where I would love to work in the future. I also finally had the time to sit down and redo my complete website and blog, which has been on my to-do list for over two years (It takes a long long time).
Spending time with the lady
Fairbanks has been really good to me. I quickly felt part of their community and like a local. Making new friends in any place is some of the nicest things I like to do. People in Alaska are friendly, warm and accepting. They love to talk and all are down to earth.
The casually dressed people, elder guys with massive beards, small planes flying overhead, the occasional moose, birch trees and snow… the things that really makes it feels like being in Alaska.
I worked hard on getting proposals ready and start talking to companies that want to jump on-board the Coldest Triangle Expedition. This is one of the biggest challenges of any expedition. Doing research on which companies you want part of the expedition, getting to the correct people and getting them to the point of reading the proposal takes lots of time. At this point you need to stay calm and be ready for lots of no’s and rejection. Getting the best companies for an expedition is very hard to get and time-consuming.
Out during the snow
After hundreds of emails things slowly started to fall in place as more and more companies showed interest in the expedition. Some of the other things that took up my time was things like my diet, staying fit, gear testing, in-depth route planning, expedition research, keep taking photos, media, social media planning… things like that.
One thing I can’t to in Alaska is work, or should I rather say work for money. Even though the American tourist visa is great, I can only stay that long. This problem created opportunity, which was a highlight of my year, visiting my family and friends in South Africa.
I have not been back in South Africa for almost three years. It felt unreal up until I actually saw my mother on the airport in Johannesburg. Being back was weird, as I already had it in my head that I will be away for five years.
Seeing family and friends was special and the two-month visit was great. I was still working on the expedition and getting things in place. I was focusing on media in South Africa and meeting up with my sponsors.
My South African visit had to come to an end and it will probably be the last visit before I cycle into Cape Town in 2018.
Few pics out of Africa
I got back to Alaska and soon started receiving some of the first gear for the expedition. Things slowly started to fall in place, but the days did not get any longer.
The exercise grind-time started through all the other planning and preparations.
Planning and prep for any extreme expedition has always been a dream. Learning new things is something I live for and this year has been another massive learning curve.
Setback on the last stretch
Unfortunately, due to a few reasons, the expedition for Siberia needed to be postponed for one year. I had a very good idea of what it takes in terms of time it takes to get companies onboard, do all the necessary planning and get ready physically and mentally for the expedition itself.
A big part of the success of any Expedition is getting the correct partners onboard and with two withdrawing at the last moment I had no choice to postpone.
Postponing the Expedition has been one of the hardest decisions on my three-year journey, where I already managed to cross four continents. But with Extreme Expeditions, comes massive risks and everything need to be perfect before heading into places where people don’t really want to be.
Unfortunately this was not the year for Siberia… but it soon will.
I set a bunch of rules before starting to plan this expedition and one of the many was not in place, which lead to the postponing of the Coldest Triangle. So at this point the new milestone to set off is January 2018.
This is part of being an adventurer… Now its time to stand up and move on…
So what next…
I will start my 5th continent crossing on 15 December 2016. Plane tickets are booked and I’m almost ready to go.
I will mix things up… so read more about the South American crossing on Friday!
Cheers for now…