Jason Pickles – Getting ready for Greenland

It’s funny how the mind works, when we returned from Baffin Island in 2009 I had convinced myself it wasn’t really that bad.  Yes it was cold, yes it was hard, but it had also been a lot of fun.  On an emotional high after a remarkable trip I disregarded the pain, suffering and hard work.

In reality I did not feel my toes from the minute we set off on the wall.  The numbness was replaced by pain as the soles of my feet defrosted on the walk out.  On the flight home I thought they might burst, 3 months after we embarked on our journey up the wall the pins and needles in my toes finally disappeared.  All this time I told myself it wasn’t that bad…

Now it’s March 2012 and tomorrow we fly to Greenland for some cold weather training!  The reality of an upcoming trip to Antarctica is that I’m about to be cold again, really cold.  It’s -25 right now in Greenland and were are going there to test equipment, systems and ourselves because finding out you can’t deal with your skis in -25 is better than finding out in Antarctica where it could be a lot colder and infinitely more serious.

So how do I feel about being cold?  Was Baffin really ‘not that bad’? In all honesty I’m a little bit gripped, In Baffin we were on an Arctic north face, we thought we would be in the sun on our chosen route, circumstances changed as did our objective.  We were under equipped for a north face, my boots were on the small side, and not giving me enough circulation and making my feet suffer.  I can rationalise it, but I’m still a bit worried, hopefully Greenland will put it all to bed and my feet will be toasty warm in my correct sized boots.  Either way I’m about to find out!

What I can say with hindsight is that the prospect of being really cold again has made me realise that Baffin was bad.  I really don’t want to go through that again.  Climbing is amazing, especially in remote places, but it isn’t worth my fingers or toes.  Am I not going to go?  Absolutely no way, it’s the unknown which attracts me to these places.  As I said the mind works in strange ways, what wasn’t that bad now seems not that appealing.  Oh well here we go again…………………………………