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One of the first questions Baz will always ask himself is, who is best suited to support you, where can you go to get the best advice? This is one of the most important decisions you will make. There are plenty of companies that will offer you support but very few do it very well. It is best to utilise a company that has a long-standing record of success and will be able to advise you on every aspect of the expedition. A good company will have your best interests in mind and will even offer advice on areas that are not even in their remit. Utilising many different companies to try and cut cost is not advisable, many things will need to link together as the months draw closer and the more links you have the more likely it is to fail.
Never be afraid to seek advice from those who have already successfully achieved what you are setting out to do and those who attempted but failed. You can learn more from failure than you can success. Most explorers are willing to meet and share their knowledge with you. The more questions you ask to the right people the more likely you are to succeed. There will always be that one little thing that you just completely forgot about or you will get a top tip that you would never have even thought of in a million years. In the extreme environment, you never stop learning regardless of experience.
It is important to get a good handle on the major expenses from the outset. This is again where a good established support company will help enormously. It is going to be expensive, you need to understand that at the start and by compiling the list early you will really know the size of the hill you must surmount. The major expense areas will be:
All equipment required to conduct the expeditionRations for each day
This list is not exhaustive but gives a good understanding.
Be realistic, is 6 months enough to raise what you need or should you start much earlier. For a major expedition like Challenge Antarctica, Baz is working on a two-year lead in time.
There will be many companies that are willing to offer support to your expedition but you must approach them in the correct way. You need to be very clear on what it is you want from them and some of the best support is not always financial. It could be marketing advice or a simple piece of equipment. If you don’t have a reasonable idea of what they can offer then you could end up in a very embarrassing situation. Asking a medium size successful company with an annual profit $100,000 for a sponsorship package of $50,000 is only going to end one way.
Many companies out there would love to get involved and support a major expedition but they never get approached due to an assumption that they are not the sort of company that generally gets involved in this sort of thing. This could not be further from the truth, approach and target everybody and every type of company. As I said earlier, just do it in the right way and make it clear what that offer of support will get back in return. Nothing is free, there will always be a payback.
Get this wrong and you might as well not begin. The extreme Antarctic environment means the very best, latest, lightest and strongest equipment on the market. At the time on writing this, some of the things Baz will use are not yet on the market.
The fact that you are planning an expedition of the magnitude of Challenge Antarctica will mean that you already have sufficient knowledge to ensure you take the right tools for the job. But never stop researching and keeping an eye on the market. Technology is advancing and moving forward quicker than we can keep up with it. Tents are lighter and stronger, Ski’s and sleds are stronger, lighter and more efficient than ever before. This is an area where you need to talk regularly to the various industries and to those that are the most recent people working in the challenging environment you are heading to. They will happily tell you what worked and what failed. This does not necessarily mean it will not work for you but it’s a good start point. You can go to the equipment tab on this website and discover what Baz is using and why he makes the decisions he does.
As part of the planning there must be plenty of training and testing. There is no point training on Dartmoor in the summer months for an expedition to Antarctica. Baz will be making many trips in advance of his start date to other extreme environments closer to home. His chosen training areas are predominantly in Norway, Svalbard and Greenland.
As well as physical robustness training in similar environments to Antarctica it is also a time be used for testing the equipment you have chosen. Baz will only be happy with any give piece of equipment if it is tried and tested when he is cold, tired and hungry, whilst on the side of a mountain many miles from support. If it works for Baz here then it will work during the actual expedition. The more the body and mind are used to these exposures the easier it will be at the time. If you are interested in joining Baz on a future training serial then get in touch to see how you can. All this travel and training must become part of the original expedition financial planning.
When all of the above has been sourced, tested, tested again and is in place then I will find myself on my journey around mid-October 2018 on my way to my initial base in Punta Arenas, Chile before heading to Union Glacier on the Antarctic Peninsula for a few more final days of preparations. From Union Glacier, there will be no turning back, a small twin otter plane will be responsible for getting Baz to his start point.