Eating the butter

When humans are in polar environments trekking across ice, they have to burn massive

Zits eating butter
Zits eating butter

calories to stay warm and fueled for the activity.  There are lots of options for calories but only a few efficient ones.  Butter is one of those calorie sources.  It is suggested, based on experience, to consume 6,000 calories per day to maintain weight.  Much less than that and the body begins shedding massive amounts of weight.

Prior to my butter going bad, I had only lost 5 pounds.  Once the butter died (went off, in British vernacular), I dropped 20 pounds in a mere two weeks.  I lost 10-15% of my calories per day when the butter failed.  It was amazing how rapidly the weight came off.  However, Antarctica is a place where losing weight is really bad.

When the weight burns down, staying warm becomes difficult.  Fat reserves really do work well for insulation.  And, once the stuffing comes off, the harness begins to dig into

Kerry Gold Butter
Kerry Gold Butter

bones rather than riding on a nice layer of fat.  My clothing ended up being two sizes too big, too.  It looked absurd, really.  As though as I was a little kid wearing my dad’s clothing.

Every day up until the butter failed, I was eating an 8 ounce block of butter every day.  That is, the equivalent of two American sticks of butter.  One block for breakfast and then one during the day.  For the snack time butter stick, I ate the butter directly, not spread on toast or anything.  Just like a block of cheese.  A la the Zits comic above.


Weight loss

The big question everyone wants to know us how much weight I lost. When I arrived in Chile, I weighed 170 pounds (77kg). After an 80 day expedition where 1/3 of my calories went bad in the last 2 weeks, I returned to the States weighing 145 pounds (66kg).


Amazingly, the loss did not occur until the last few weeks of the expedition. The problem became apparent when the towing harness began cutting into my waist, causing incessant trouble with my right hip. An adjustment of an inch was the difference between pain and relative comfort with the towing harness.

For so long, I had no problems with any of my traces or harness. However, once the irritation began, the chafing and pressure became increasingly distracting and problematic to the point where, by the end of the day, I was constantly fiddling to make things comfortable. Many times it got to the point of suffering with low grade discomfort rather than making an adjustment and having things become even worse.

A loss of 25 pounds (11kg) is not all that bad compared to the 2011-2012 season where some expeditioners lost upwards of 44 pounds (20kg). If I had dropped that much weight, making the pole would have been exceedingly troublesome.

As an interesting note, a pound of fat on humans is worth approximately 3500 calories. That means over the time I was losing weight, I was short roughly 87,500 calories. That wasn’t good but once the butter went rancid, there wasn’t much to do but thin out.

Living in America will make it easier to gain the weight back, though. All I have to do us over-eat by 1 apple sauce cup a day to gain a pound in a month. As I’m over-eating by way more than that, I’ll be chunked back up in no time.

Duffles of butter

I had to purchase a few spare duffle bags to transport my perishables onto the aircraft.

One of those perishables is butter. Two duffle bags full of butter.


As butter will be a full 1/3 of my diet, 2000 calories per day (3 sticks), it’s important to ensure that part if my ration is well taken care of. If the butter were in with the general population, it would be mashed to being unusable and rotten.
That’d be a disaster for me prior to even hopping on the plane.

All 5 of my gear bags plus the 2 duffles if butter weighed in at 152kg / 334lbs. Not nearly as bad as I expected, though that weight makes me feel like I’m missing something.

I’ll receive my 6 cans of fuel and 6 liters of water in Antarctica. Another 55 lbs.

For the first 10 days, I’ll be struggling mightily, as not everything will likely fit in my sled bags. The trick will be to avoid looking like a Turkish bazaar.

A mountain of gear. In there I have 5 bags with pink duct tape.

Add more rocks


Since I had a short tow time today, I decided to add even more rocks. I loaded enough so that I was just able to flex my legs and move uphill. Then, once I made my hour 15 uphill, I loaded even more rocks to ensure that my downhill speed was just like going uphill.

I tested and figured out that I could actually crawl on my hands and knees and move quicker. And that was crawling backwards, too. The whole point of this exercise, besides the heavy workload on my legs and joints, is to prepare me for the psychology of feeling like I’m going nowhere fast.

When you are looking at an infinite plane of ice and blue sky, it is difficult to feel as though you’re making progress.

Until I begin passing mountains, it will feel like I’m going nowhere real fast. I need to be mentally prepared to deal with such circumstances. Adding incredible weight to the tire, up to 40 pounds of rocks, gives me that sensation.

I can stare at the trailhead for a good 15 minutes before I finally arrive. The final curve revealing the end is only 200 yards away. That really does do a number on your head.

That is exactly what I want.

Mountain Athlete

Thank you very much to Jordan Smothermon at Mountain Athlete for the great training session.


The facility has all of the classic materials expected a real training gym. No hokey machines – just old school material. It was much more effective I think. I do have to agree with their philosophy that having isolating machines doesn’t really do you a lot of good for the amount of time that you have to put in them.

Kettle bells, barbells, dumbbells, lifting rack, things to stand on, and pads are all around. I saw there were some other tools for more specific training but the basics will take you far, so unless you need something specific, it’s all good.

Jordan was quite good at observing my dead lift technique, so he help me work on that quite a bit. As I have not really done that exercise much at all, it will take some work.

I’m going to do a running session up the local ski mountain and then hit the gear. My goal is to get everything weighed and measured out to make sure I’ve got all my basics and that nothing is missing or needs replacing.

Time is growing short.

Getting chunk

So now I’m going to try this approach over the weekend and during the week.

Whenever I am wandering around or doing something, I have to have food in my hand. As long as I am not working out, I need to be attached to food. Perhaps this will help?

It’s something I’m going to try to gain a little weight. Perhaps the power of suggestion will help me get chunked.

Diet alteration

Based on reading Alexander Gamay’s blog, a Norwegian who made the first solo trip to the south pole and back, I need to dramatically increase my calorie intake. The weight loss experienced by Gamay and also the Australian team demonstrated I do not weigh enough to survive the trek.

It was interesting to note in Gamay’s blog that he started eating ice cream right before going to bed. In order to compensate for the 20+ pounds he lost in Antarctica, he had to consume massive calories prior to the expedition. He needed to have enough cellulite to lose, he joked about himself.

Thinking about what is normally over-eating, having ice cream before bed, and generally gorging myself is not exciting in the, “I get to eat whatever I want” perspective. My biggest problem is I have a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, filling me with good wholesome nutrients. Bananas and apples won’t pack on the pounds so I can lose them later this year, though.

The irony is I eat pretty well for a bachelor. I consume little junk food. I never buy chips or snacks. This is all going to have to change.

Both Cas and Jonesy (the Australians) looked like refugees at the end. Gamay reported his legs were reduced to sticks. Most explorers lose at least 20 and some up to 40 pounds while in Antarctica, on an 80+ day trek.

As I’ve weighed in at 160 pounds for the past seven years, this is going to be a big challenge for me. It seems that no matter how much I eat, working out burns those meals right off. My metabolism is not that efficient for the activities I like to do.

In any case, I definitely need to step up my eating habits to include much higher calorie foods. But, I have to make sure these meals are still highly nutritious. The ice cream is just an extra bonus.

Consider this: when trekking through the Antarctic, humans burn 6000 calories per day. And lose weight. That amounts to eating 11 Big Macs. Supersize it.

Bed time meal: