Getting to the pole via a swimming pool

The first humans arrived at the South Pole 100 years ago.  It was essentially a race between several of the world’s best explorers of their age: Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton.  One made it and returned, another died on the way back and the last ended up in one of the greatest survival epics in history.

How did they get there?  They filled their pool.

Pool into lawn

A 12x24 lawn pool

How does filling a pool relate to Antarctica?  When you go to the south pole for an expedition, you’ll be gone for three to four months.  In that time, a lot can happen to a house, especially when it’s being rented out.  And, if the house has a pool, chances are something really bad will happen with it.

Murphy lives here.

The last thing you want to hear is that the pool has broken and is now draining water three days prior to your departure.  Or, the worst case, receiving a phone call that there has been an accident with one of your renters in the pool.

And they’re going to sue.

Getting to the south pole takes significant planning, not only for the expedition, but to make sure that everything will run smoothly at home.  A pool is never a smooth item.  Hence why I filled it with dirt and turned it into a nice patch of grass, avoiding having the pool continue to be a money and stress pit.  News about the pool is the last thing you want while in Antarctica.  It might go something like this:

You’re facing 50 mile per hour winds at 40 below zero.

Your satellite phone just died.

But only after hearing something bad happened back home.

Having the pool is a great way to relieve stress prior to taking an expedition of this magnitude.  A few laps in the morning does wonders for the mind and body.  Being immersed in the refreshing fluid helps take the mind off why its so difficult to sign on sponsors for a trip or how come you can’t find the correct size ski boots rated for -50 degrees.

My one option would have been to reline the pool using the company I used last time,  the only in-ground vinyl pool company in North County .  However, the cost estimate for completely replacing the pool liner is nearly 10% of the budget for the expedition.  It costs $5,000 to replace that liner. The minimum cost for an Antarctic expedition to the pole is over $60,000.  Financially it made no sense to keep the pool.

Ten yards of dirt

A mountain of dirt destined for the back yard.

It “only” costs about $1,600 to fill the pool with dirt and make it into a lawn.  For this adventurer, the cost and risk advantage was perfectly clear.  There are already enough unknowns when going to the farthest reaches of the planet.  The old time explorers knew this, too.

Amundsen would have filled his pool.