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Things no one tells you before an Antarctic expedition (2015) (telegraph.co.uk)
282 points by montrose 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments

I was there for a whole year, in a scientific base of my country. Being a controlled environment, I couldn't relate much with the items, except for

> 10. Re-entry. > There is often a huge sense of isolation and disconnect when you come back to everyday life. For so long, you have been out in the wilderness and singularly concerned with survival and mileage, so when you get back to the real world and people talk about their jobs, or what they did at the weekend, it all feels foreign. You must remember that people have their own lives and their own interests. Just because you like Antarctica and polar expeditions, it doesn't mean anyone else should give a damn about you or what you did.

It was hard to come back to the real life...

That applies to most things that take an extreme amount of effort: most don't have the opportunity (or make it) to travel far from where they come from. As an intrepid traveller myself, I found that it doesn't really matter when you are interacting with people you like: everyone interesting travels somewhere in their mind, if not the world, and has stories to tell.

But yeah reading this article I'm thinking, I HOPE I never have to worry about frostbite. Kudos to the author.

People from the Shackleton expedition went straight to the WWI trenches after returning from Antarctica.

And many of them died in the war. After IMHO the most extreme adventure a bunch of men have ever undertaken, where not a single man died.

This book [0] is one of the most astonishing I have ever read. Anyone reading this grab a copy, you won't regret it. It's quite a unique story in all human history, and superbly told.

[0] http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Shackletons-Boat-Journey/

Re-entry is definitely a huge part of military deployments as well. There's this overwhelming certainty that these people just don't have their priorities straight.

I’ve been around the world enough to see some extreme poverty - come back and friends are complaining about the generally harmless hobos downtown :/

I think it’s perspective of just getting away from what you’re used to.

Re-entry isn’t the issue, it thats that it your new awareness can’t be shared with people who haven’t left.

This also happens heavily with repatriation for any unexpected reason. I'm trying to find the document on it, but there are pretty serious studies about re-entering society after a major cultural shift, with many of the difficulties relating to difficulty connecting with the regular population in regards to the experiences you had abroad since most lack the frame of reference. The unexpected part of it just is a shock to your system and it can take months before you acclimate back to your native environment just due to all the strange expectations one has.

I was forcibly repatriated due to a visa issue a few years ago, and I feel into a deep depression as a result. I was not a pleasant person, and I couldn't figure out why I was so miserable. It never occurred to me that, after having traveled and worked across the globe, that the simple fact of an unexpected trip home would be the source of a huge wave of depression. I definitely burnt a few bridges as a result of this, most of which I don't think I can repair.

The State Department has a very good page on this, dubbing it "Reverse Culture Shock" [1] I remember reading over this page and being amazed as to how succinctly what I was experiencing had been put into words, and it hit me very hard, especially since overall I felt I had acclimated well to life abroad in a non-English speaking country. Having all of that hard work just suddenly stripped away and being forced back into a place that no longer felt like a home for me was very hard, and it weighs heavily on me even today.

That lack of connection between people is incredibly devastating, and the GP post about re-entry is quite true, in my experience.

[1] - https://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c56075.htm

There is another thread on HN right now regarding working at Amazon. There is a poor soul who is literally suicidal because he can't get into tier 1 tech companies, only tier two like Amazon where he only earns $150k.

I have also traveled and lived in third world countries and I agree with you the issue is that one can't share perspective gained from the experience very effectively.

It would be great to be able to share with that kid some of the perspective learned traveling and meeting people living in poverty. It could mean the difference between life and death, but as you say it's very difficult to share that awareness.

> A normal man burns about 2,500 calories in a day. We burn between 7,000 to 9,000.

This kind of thing is fascinating to me. It reminds me of the guy [1] who took 64,000 extra calories of olive oil along on his tiny-yacht trip across the Atlantic, because it's so dense in calories. Or the fact that on the day a climber summits Everest, they'll burn around 20,000 calories. That's almost 40 McDonald's Big Macs worth of energy.

1. http://www.yachtingworld.com/extraordinary-boats/undaunted-t...

Last year I tracked 294 runs and my app calculated I burned 260,900 calories (over 2,040 miles). Funny enough I calculated my average calorie burn per day of snowboarding at 8,000 calories right between the estimate provided from the article.

A lot of people will talk about calories in/out, but the body is far more complex. For starters diet will dictate the primary fuel source (glucose or fat), a body that burns fat as the primary source of energy will have nearly infinite energy supply while glucose store will empty relatively quickly, and once that’s used up the body will start breaking down the amino acids in muscle tissue and converting it to glucose.

Like you I find nutrition very fascinating, but I’d take that olive oil (healthy fat) over 40 Big Macs any day.

> glucose store will empty relatively quickly, and once that’s used up the body will start breaking down the amino acids in muscle tissue and converting it to glucose.

Not quite true.

The body can convert fat into glucose, just like protein, through the process of gluconeogenesis. If I'm not wrong, the body will usually only start breaking down muscle if there's no fat it can make use of.

So, someone on a lower-carb, decent protein, high healthy-fat diet will probably have far greater energy than on the usual high-carb, high bad-fat diet. Likely won't have hunger pangs at all, and won't burn out as quickly as the junk food carb-fat-loader.

A diet for hunter-gatherers, and Eskimos. And people who want consistent, constant energy through the week. :)

Fat vs glucose being the energy source depending on diet? Where can I find more info about this?

The body switches to burning fat based on insulin levels. A very bad diet can make you insulin resistant and eventually have diabetes type 2, but it is reversible.

The difference between a normal person and somebody with insulin resistance is that the latter will feel hungry for longer before starting to burn fat.

Contrary to what the GP says, you need to be low on fat (think extremely skinny) before the body starts scavenging healthy non-fat tissues.

>Contrary to what the GP says, you need to be low on fat (think extremely skinny) before the body starts scavenging healthy non-fat tissues.

The process of converting muscle tissue into glucose falls under the umbrella of gluconeogenesis.

If you burn up your glucose stores, your body may turn to fat (more efficient than converting muscle to glucose), but the body can "skip" the fat burning and turn to the break down of muscle to convert the amino acids (proteins) into glucose. Hint: its build right into your post...Insulin. If a body burns up glucose, and there are high levels of insulin in the blood, then the body will go into gluconeogenesis to breakdown muscle to convert the amino acids into glucose instead of burning fat.

Hyperinsulinemia (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabet...) is mostly prevalent among those with Type II DM (insulin resistance promoting over-production of insulin in a physiologic attempt to compensate). I don't believe all that many "normal/healthy" individuals have this issue. So while gluconeogenesis is a viable pathway for fuel, in most individuals lipid metabolism will not be skipped over for gluconeogenesis because as mentioned previously it is the slowest and least efficient pathway for ATP production. Someone with a persistent high carb and low fat diet may be in a similar state but with high demand for energy - such as the conditions described in the article - the most efficient pathways will be utilized predominantly, unless the individual went to great lengths to prevent it via their diet.

If I recall correctly there are some conditions where diet will have such effects, but they depend on genetics and random bad luck. So I call mostly bullshit. The body will not burn muscle, at least in a healthy human, unless near death due to starvation. The body can however adapt to what you eat and get better at converting to energy with the help of bacteria. The muscles hold water, fuel and fat, so they will look smaller when all is depleted.

Depends on your interest, if you want scientific studies or practical/anecdotal information.

If you want science/studies I would start maybe with the krebs cycle/ATP, ketogenic diet, ketosis, ketones as a by-product of fat buring. Maybe mix in studies about insulin, blood sugar levels/glycemic index, glucose, glycogen, glucagon/pancreas, amino acids/liver/gluconeogenesis.

For more practical/functional/anecdotal information, usually your interest will be in sports/athletic performance. You might start with more generic blogs about glucose vs fat and then work your way into blogs of individual athletes in the sport you are most interested in. Although I distance run, I don't limit myself to the experiences of just other ultra runners. I also really enjoy reading about the various diets/experiences of body body builders, sprinters, other endurance sports, and mixed martial artists. It is such a wide gap in terms of performance goals and mass/muscle/weight goals.

I tried to look up studies regarding ketogenesis, but most of it was pretty flimsy.

The following sources provide some compelling arguments for switching to intermittent fasting for many major systemic health benefits.

These videos by the channel "What I've Learned" are great:

- Fasting vs. Eating Less: What's the Difference? [1]

- Longevity & Why I now eat One Meal a Day [2]

The channel [3] also has many other videos on the topic of nutrition, with similar emphasis.

Also see the excellent and readable book "The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting" by Dr Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore [4].

[1] https://youtu.be/APZCfmgzoS0

[2] https://youtu.be/PKfR6bAXr-c

[3] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqYPhGiB9tkShZorfgcL2lA/vid...

[4] https://www.amazon.com/dp/1628600012

As usual Alex Hutchinson does a great job summarizing the research : https://www.outsideonline.com/2060591/latest-low-carb-high-f...

If 70% or more of your calories come from fat, your body starts increasing its fat oxidation rate, but it also down regulates the carb burning pathway

Peter Attia is a doctor who has a lot of really good and detailed information on his site.

The video on the page provides a detailed look at how the body breaks down glucose and fat for energy:


He was also a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast not too long ago if anyone’s interested.


I’ve been following a keto diet for some time now and still learned a lot from Peter’s discussion with Joe.

I think that's the premise behind keto.

Yes, but that works on the idea that providing no glucose to the body will make it switch to fat instead. So it's not really diet "controlling" which fuel source to use, just body using the best fuel source available, and switching to the next one when the previous one runs out.

>Yes, but that works on the idea that providing no glucose to the body will make it switch to fat instead. So it's not really diet "controlling" which fuel source to use

I think there is just a difference in the use of "controlling" here. Fat/Glucose will always be used jointly as energy, but the idea is to "control" which is the primary fuel source. A Ketogenic diet or ketosis is part of that, still giving you a fair reading I can understand how you conclude that is not "control", though I would argue it is because I am controlling my fuel source, but to your point I am not eating whatever I want (carb/sugar heavy diet) and controlling my primary fuel source like a light switch.

Separate and apart from the diet, there are other things you can do to "control" or "train" your body to burn fat as the primary fuel source. Again keto is a large part of it, but lets assume I am in ketosis and about to go for one of my runs...in short, aerobic or anaerobic. Is my body going to go for the fat or is it going to go for the available glucose which is the preferred energy source for anaerobic exercise? Also, in anaerobic exercise the muscles produce lactic acid as a by product and as anaerobic exercise can only be maintained for a short period of time, when its over and the body is recovering the lactic acid goes to the liver and is converted into glucose, of course that raises the blood glucose level which in turn may encourage the body to use as the primary fuel source. Keeping my run aerobic I am "controlling" the primary fuel source and burning fat, both in the short term (same run) and long term (over periods of time) I am training my body to be pushed harder and harder while maintaining my aerobic threshold increases.

Deriving energy from fat is strictly less oxygen efficient than from glycogen; oxygen supply of course being the main limiter of aerobic endurance. This is why as you increase intensity towards VO2max the balance of fat versus glycogen use shifts dramatically in favor of glycogen.

So training in a glycogen depleted state (back then we called this bonking) is bad news if you want to increase your aerobic threshold, since the kind of training that has been shown most effective in causing the required adaptations involves repeated maximal efforts.

The only training effect you can hope for is nudging your body towards using more fat at lower levels of exertion, thereby saving valuable glycogen. This isn't very relevant for most running events which are typically done at a consistently high VO2max percentage, but beneficial for say cycling races where you have low intensity (riding in the slipstream on the flat) mixed with very high intensity (up a steep grade).

>So training in a glycogen depleted state (back then we called this bonking) is bad news if you want to increase your aerobic threshold

These is a difference between burning glucose as the primary fuel source, depleting it, and bonking vs using fat as the primary fuel source to begin with (there is no bonking).

But basically glucose store empty pretty quickly and if not refueled the body shuts down to conserve the limited glucose for the brain because that is it’s primary fuel source (the body shut down is the bonking).

When in keotsis, the burning of fat produces a by product, ketones, which is a different source of fuel for the brain. So when in ketosis when burning fat as the primary fuel source (which is essentially limitless compared to glucose) there is no bonk because 1. You don’t run out of fat (like you would glucose), and 2. As you burn fat you produce ketones to fuel the brain (which isn’t happening when burning glucose as the primary fuel).

For example my last marathon I ran in ketosis I did with only water and electrolytes (no fuel), I cant do that if I’m not in ketosis.

Your point about being able to more efficiently increase the aerobic threshold while using glucose sounds right.

I've followed a ketogenic diet for over over six months and lost 60lbs during that time while eating a disgusting amount of protein and fat. I never felt more clear-minded than I did during the diet. Colors were enhanced and I felt like I had unlimited energy. No ups and downs in mood during the day, no "unknown crash" at the end of the day. Of course this is after the initial crash that you experience until your body figures out it needs to switch fuel.

It made me realize, often when we say we are hungry and we are craving something, it's not that we are hungry, it's that we are craving carbs.

I've been on a ketogenic diet for ~half a year a few years ago. I did lose weight and didn't experience any significant negatives, though I also didn't notice any positives - no extra mind clarity or color perception or whatever. But for the main goal - losing weight - it worked for me well.

Did you make sure you were in ketosis all throughout by using ketone strips?

Back when I did it, I had two friends that did it with me. One of them got cognitive benefits like I did while the other did not. It might be that we were deficient in or sensitive to something else. In fact the energy was so boundless at the 2-week mark that we actually had a hard time falling asleep at night.

I didn't. I didn't even bother looking up where I could find those strips. I just cut carbs down to almost zero, eating carbs-free + controlled, small amounts of carbs. I paid attention to stay under 20g of carbs per day. I was never really sure I was in full ketosis - I just started to follow the diet, noticed some changes in urine that may or may not indicate ketosis (I definitely didn't have the intensive smell some people describe), and tracked my weight daily.

It worked well over couple of months. Actually, I found the chart I made then:


(Measurements are blue, running average (of AFAIR a week) is green. I used the running average as an indicator of progress, to eliminate measurement noise / daily variations.)

That ~8-10kg drop in 3 months is when I was on ketogenic diet. I carried it a bit longer, then I guess at some point I just decided I miss pizza too much. One permanent change this caused though, that I have to this day, is that I switched from sugar to artificial sweeteners in my tea/coffee, and always opt for sugarfree coke/pepsi instead of the regular one.

>I was never really sure I was in full ketosis

Following your conversation I have a wild guess...you likely were not exercising and therein likely was.

First, I’ve never meet anyone who did some form of working out/exercising who couldn’t tell if they were in ketosis (good or bad).

If I am right, this may also explain the feeling of mental clarity therein experiences that you didn’t. Glucose is fuel for the brain, but fat isn’t...ketones are which are a by product of fat burning, so the more fat burning/ketones the more fuel for the brain.

Interesting if you both chime in on my theory.

From my end your guess adds up. I did exercise, and my body's transition to increased affinity for ketone utilization was definitely noticeable during my workouts. And indeed the mental clarity and color enhancement was more pronounced following a workout, however unlike on a normal diet, these state stayed with me all day rather than only for a few hours.

> Glucose is fuel for the brain, but fat isn’t...ketones are which are a by product of fat burning, so the more fat burning/ketones the more fuel for the brain.

That definitely makes sense to me and would even to a certain extent explain the difference between individual experiences with ketogenic diet.

From my end: I wasn't a total couch potato, but I also definitely wasn't doing any kind of regular exercise.

Sure, but this is literally what some people using homeopathy or reiki or crystal healing say.

> it's not that we are hungry, it's that we are craving carbs.

No. You are hungry, not necessarily for carb or protein or fat, you're just hungry. If you wait long enough, your body will switch to burn body fat.

What I meant by that was this:

Even after knowing that my body has switched to primarily using ketones via Ketone Measurement Strips used on urine daily, I would find myself wanting to eat something, but once I realized all I had at home that I could eat was food full of fat and protein but not carbs, my craving would disappear or I would become disinterested.

And even after eating, I could still feel that it didn't hit the right spot at satisfying my cravings. I would be really full, and really full of energy-dense food but I would still be dreaming of a slice of bread or even a sip of lemonade next to whatever dish I am eating. I realized what I craved wasn't food but that spike in blood sugar.

diet will dictate the primary fuel source (glucose or fat)

Diet, or training?

Diet mostly, fuel source is selected by insulin levels.

Deplete your glycogen stores after constraining carbohydrates intake to under 20g a day, and your body will switch to fat consumption for energy needs within 48 hours.

How do you accurately determine calorie burning based on activity?

Another thing They don’t tell you is that there are limits to how fast your stomach can absorb calories while you’re exercising.

All those weird foods that runners and cyclists eat are (or rather, were, before the ad men got involved) optimized based on research into absorption. I don’t know where things are now since I’m a recovering couch potato, but there was a time where our best research said anything denser than Gatorade would not hit your bloodstream any faster.

What keeps you from digesting your own muscles immediately is that your liver stores a few thousand calories of reserve sugars. So one day of heavy exertion you can mostly shrug off. Days or weeks take planning or moderation or you’ll digest the muscles you aren’t using (see also bicyclist physique)

The liver doesn't store that much (1000 calories = 250g glycogen, well over what the liver itself stores). You do have a couple thousand calories of glycogen available but mostly stored in muscles

Well I guess you can only trust popular sports medicine so far. Looks like actual is more like 400 calories. While useful, that leaves the muscles, as you say, as the primary reserve.

Imagine how much energy it would take to keep about 200lbs of water at about 98F degrees all the time when it is -40F outside.

That's what your body is doing 24 hours a day. It takes a LOT of energy to do that. Quite frankly I think it's incredible that stuff like this is even possible.

Of course it matters how the water is wrapped/insulated. With good enough insulation it doesn't take much energy at all.

Until the water starts insisting on breathing.

Indeed, there couldn't be a better heat exchanger !

Yes indeed! One of the advantages of diving underwater with a re-breather is that you lose less heat through respiration compared to open circuit SCUBA diving. Also the type of gases you have in your mix matter but that's another topic altogether.

For the record, I've eaten butter camping in the winter - long lasting dense energy source for sure :-) My favorite is Kerry Gold Irish unsalted :-)

Wow such a great way of letting me wrap my head around this, thanks.

On some of my multiday, light and fast peak bagging missions last year, I would supplement my diet with coconut oil. Reasons:

* Doesn't spoil, like butter could (clarified butter may work, but it's liquid at room temp) * Less of a chance to get all over the place, like olive oil. * Found in the strangest of places, like tiny grocery stores in even little mountain towns. * Smell less than butter (or bacon), so less of a chance to find a friendly bear in my food.

I mostly ate peanut butter (caloric rich itself) and jelly tortillas. Put some coconut oil in that sucker, and it tastes like the finest french pastries.

I never liked the stuff before. I was considering just eating Crisco (doesn't spoil at room temp, no mess), but coconut butter seemed a bit more appealing.

I talk a bit about what I ate in a presentation I did recently. Fast forward to that part:


The next slide shows that, despite the added calories, I was at a caloric deficit, in which I lost 15 pounds over 2 months.

20000 calories? That must be american calories. If we subtract 2000 kcal for general upkeep that's still the equivalent of pedaling on an ergo at 220 watts for a continuous 24 hours. Half the population can't sustain that for a mere 20 minutes.

Why can't they? Because it exceeds their maximum rate of oxygen consumption. That also tells us they can't in any scenario burn that many calories in a day.

Most of the calories spent not on muscle movement that consumes oxygen, but on warming up the body. That probably also consumes oxygen, but I'm not sure how much.

When working, keeping warm doesn't use additional calories to the work (skiing and sled-pulling), since heat is a biproduct of the work. In fact they are careful not to work too hard so they don't sweat. (Getting wet makes their insulation ineffective, so is very dangerous.)

Generating energy takes roughly the same amount of oxygen either way regardless of whether you're pedaling a bike or just staying warm in a freezing environment.

I would also burn 7,000 calories every day to row across the Atlantic [1] but if the freeze dried food is varied enough, there's no need to eat raw butter.

1. https://clem.travelmap.net

So good to have dudes like you posting on HN. Thanks & great work with TravelMap

Now the oil makes me wonder if this was a tool in how the Romans conquered - better marching on their own supplies since their culture had a fatty food staple?

The other reason to eat an oil product is that it takes more calories to digest. So it keeps you warmer when you aren’t moving.

Strongman competitors consume insane amount of calories: Hafþór is reportedly on a diet with more than 10000, Brian Shaw posted a video a year ago about his 12000+ diet.

These strongmen also have five times the body mass of the average person - unlike the antarctic explorers....

These two are like 190-195kg. A lot certainly but not five times.

Even Andre The Giant is billed "only" at 236kg.

That doesn't sound very healthy to me. Is it not like running your car at 9000rpm instead of the normal rpm. This will cause engine wear and premature end of life. I assume it would be the same for humans, but stand to be corrected.

So you could loose about 1kg per day in weight ?

Basically. But you'd burn muscles fast at some points. Then no more nutrients/protein even though you are still skin, bones, ligaments, etc. So you finally die of a heart failure or a disease your body can't no longer fight.


> Middle aged people tend to make better polar explorers. Not so much because they are physically more capable, but more to do with their mental capacity. Out on the high polar plateau there is nothing but endless white stretching off in every direction. You ski for 12 hours a day and because of the wind and cold, it’s almost impossible to talk to your team mates. So, in effect, you are alone in your head for all that time. By being a bit older and having a bit more life experience, it helps fill the blank canvas that is Antarctica.

I always wonder if the same would apply to soldiers. A former special forces soldier I know said that they didn't look for jocks (though you need some athleticism); they looked for people with the ability to perform as a highly functional team member under extreme stress and exhaustion - sort of like the developer who maintains their sense of humor, keeps everyone loose, and still turns out work to the highest standards after a week of 18 hour days, with a deadline breathing down your necks and an angry boss. It seems to me that older people are generally more capable in that regard.

> [the butter] tastes revolting, but then your body just craves the fat content and you eat the butter like blocks of cheese.

He needs a bit of better butter. I highly recommend eating Plugra butter straight, assuming that your heart doesn't need all that blood all the time. Really; go buy some and you will come back and thank me. I can't even imagine how good it would taste in the author's situation.

(I have no affiliation with Plugra.)

A special forces operator must maintain vigilant SA and mental fortitude because the nature of the missions are such that you will be without mission support for days at a time.

A programmrr enduring 18 hour work days is shitty/abusuve management.

Or incredibly motivated and working on something he believes in.

Ah yes, the elusive development unicorn.

Unless they have some sort of capital ownership in the project they are doing they are just conned.

> Plugra butter

It's god-tier. I haven't eaten it straight but in thick (1/4") slabs on fresh bread. Found even better butter in Iceland, flew home with 5 pounds of it. Somewhere between butter and triple-crème cheese. Got odd looks at customs, but they had no problem with it.

Kerrygold is also as good in my experience. It has ruined all other butter for me and my wife.

What brand from Iceland?

I don't remember, I think it was a local, no-brand butter. The 5lb was one big block.

That’s exactly how I felt when I trained for ultramarathons. You are running 100+ miles a week for months, hours and hours each day lost in your thoughts. Best time of my life.

> It may seem stupid celebrating traveling 100km when you have 18 times that distance to go, but never underestimate the power of denial.

I think this quote applies well to entrepreneurship

It’s hard to know what to celebrate, as it’s often not as easy to quantify as a kilometre

Celebrate bookings, revenue and customer successes!

Celebrate teams who work well together.

Don’t celebrate fund raising.

Is anyone else bothered by the unit switching this guy is doing?

> On the traverse of Antarctica we were trying to cover 1,850km. After the first week, we had only done a few miles total and then had to climb 3,000m onto the high polar plateau.

That's 3 distance units in two sentences where 1 unit would suffice with almost no changes ("a few miles" is approximately identical to "a few kilometers").

It also happens in rock climbing in America. The primary safety rope has a length and diameter measured in metric, but the distances climbed and the size of the rock's cracks are measured in feet and inches. Other ropes might be measured with imperial lengths and metric diameters, or (occasionally) all imperial.

Your discussions are going to talk about 60m, 9.8mm lead ropes, two 7mm cordolettes (they're usually 20' long when untied,) some spare 9/16" webbing, and a bunch of 60cm/single length slings. Your climbing route can be anywhere from 30' to 3,000'.

Like all jargon and measurements, you just get used to it. I know what 9/16" webbing looks like and implies. I also can do the mental math to convert it to metric, but there's no point unless I'm talking to someone who needs those details and doesn't speak the same lingo (i.e., climbers from Europe who aren't yet used to our bullshit.)

Off topic:

Today I learned that in the English language "kilometers" are considered their own unit, whereas in my native tongue (German) we'd understand a kilometer as 1000 meters - and if anyone asked we'd tell them the unit (Einheit) is meters with a si-prefix in front of it. Especially so if that "anyone" happened to be your electronics/maths/etc teacher.

The combination of a unit and a prefix is called "Einheitenzeichen" in German (of course a unit symbol by itself can be an Einheitenzeichen as well). A concept that doesn't appear to exist at all in the English language.

We also don't have a Wikipedia entry for "Kilometer": it redirects to Meter (SI-Prefix-Chapter).

It appears to be one of those many things that are understood just slightly differently in various languages, only affecting understanding in the rarest of edge-cases.

I believe you’re reaching the wrong conclusion based on some poorly worded comments. Which scale one uses may depend on the context: km for distance by car, m for elevation. Your parent is using “units” very loosely to refer to the difference in scale (m vs km) as well as the difference in units (km vs miles).

You were quick with your reply and I actually added a paragraph to my comment since.

Basically I wasn't able to find any English equivalent to the system of naming conventions we use to denote "units" in the German language.

Most of the Wikipedia articles dealing with those things in German have no equivalent English article, or the english version bears no resemblance of the German version and vice-versa:

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einheitenzeichen https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vors%C3%A4tze_f%C3%BCr_Ma%C3%9...

My takeaway is that in English you call the result of adding a prefix to a unit still "unit", albeit it consists of a "base-unit" and a "prefix".

And in your comment you just called "km" a unit again!

Edit: Made both links link to German version to avoid confusion.

Edit 2: What amazes me is that we managed to standardize systems of units and quantities - without standardizing the lingo surrounding them.

> "And in your comment you just called "km" a unit again!"

Are you referring to "as the difference in units (km vs miles)"? The base units are meters and miles. I use km there because that is the use (with scale) in the original context.

"Unit" can have two different meanings. One is the use of measurement systems: meter vs miles. It can also refer to distinguish between the quantity and the unit in a measurement, such as "1 km" vs "1000 m": in the first case, the "1" is the quantity and "km" is the unit. In the second, "1000" is the quantity and "m" is the unit. As an aside, this sense of unit is often useful in "unit analysis" (also called "dimensional analysis").


Perhaps the second unit is "meters," as in, "climbed 3km onto the high polar plateau."

Yeah, he's definitely talking elevation gain, which is always either in feet or meters. 3000 meters is a ton of gain in a single day. Some of the bigger peaks here in Washington might get you 2000 meters in a day. Rainer has significantly more gain but is not typically done in a single day.

You'd never use km or miles for elevation gain. I really don't understand what the problem is.

For sure it is, and that one is almost reasonable, as meters tend to be used more than miles or km for elevation.

The switch between miles and kilometers with no cause bothers me more than that.

In Scandinavia at least we use mile for 10 km. Not sure how common it is elsewhere.

An imperial mile is 1.6km in the UK and USA

But there's no use of miles at all in the article. It uses kilometers for distance and meters for elevation.

> After the first week, we had only done a few miles...

Ok, my bad.

Maybe his map is in metric, for contour lines and distances, but he is used to thinking in imperial units.

not too off topic: I've been reading "The Worst Journey in the World" - fascinating!

also, to help with the general mood I bought a bottle of this whisky: https://www.whiskyshop.com/shackleton


Great book! You may also enjoy this story : https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/02/12/the-white-dark...

Dude, after reading the Atlantic article I remembered hearing about that expedition. hard core ..and this pic, its timeless https://www.newyorker.com/projects/interactive/2018/180212-g...

thank you! - looks interesting. will read.

I would highly recommend this blog about surviving in Antartica (and not loosing all your SANity points ;)


>> We burn between 7,000 to 9,000. That means supplementing your dehydrated food with slabs of butter. In the first few days of the expedition, it tastes revolting, but then your body just craves the fat content and you eat the butter like blocks of cheese.

I wonder how many sticks they eat a day. 1 stick is around 800 calories. Eating a stick of butter is a popular food challenge video on YouTube, but some guys eat 4 sticks (1lb) without any problem, in just a few minutes.

-30C is actually not that bad when the air is dry.

it's also much easier to stay dry, and thus warm, at -30 than at -2

Try -30 and 75% relative humidity. It takes a few weeks for the humidity to go down, but during those weeks you will freeze your ass off.

and you have no wind.

Yeh, -30 with low humidity, wind free and sunny, it feels like +10

Why not peanut/almond butter instead of butter?

Turns to rock in the cold

But so does regular butter. It's not 100% fat, it contains water.

Doesn't regular butter do that too - perhaps just aerate it like they do with all the icecream nowadays?

Almond could have also a small amount of cyanide. Bad idea if you plan to eat a lot of the stuff.

AFAIU only bitter almonds, which are not used to make almond butter, contain significant amounts of cyanide. You could eat pounds of almond butter and not have an issue.

Is interesting, so I did some calculus.

If we assume a 75Kg standard male human the lethal dose of cyanide would be 37.5 mg (0.5 mg by Kg)[A]. A Kg of sweet almonds has more or less, 25mg of cyanide [B] therefore if you eat 1,5Kg of almond butter in a short space of time you could reach the lethal dose.

Is a lot of butter but:

1) If you eat less you could still vomit or have stomach problems that could lower your chances of survival in such hostile environment.

2) the maker could had used some cheaper bitter almonds in the mix to lower the price. Bitter almonds have much more cyanide so even a few could lower the lethal oral dose.

And 3) there is a possible interaction with vitamin C suplements, that turn amygdalin in cyanide [2].

[A] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793392/

[B] https://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/attachme...

That is 3.3 imperial pounds of sweet almonds. I offer that one would not be readily able to consume even half that much.

Eating half of the stuff wouldn't be so difficult in a diet that needs to replace 7000-9000 calories each day. 750 g of almond butter has around 4600 calories. A reasonable value to eat if choosen as the main source of fat in the diet.

Put a stick of butter in the freezer and see what happens.

Middle aged people tend to make better polar explorers

Perhaps for the same reasons they tend to be better entrepreneurs.

Like having access to capital?

Good for that guy but by 'Antarctic expedition' I was expecting something different.

I'm a lot more interested in going to Antarctica, spend a few months there as part of some scientific research team. Or maybe just go there as a part time low skill worker, so that my whole trip is funded and at the same time I don't have to work more than a few hours a day. I just want the feeling of having lived in Antarctica for a few months. (internet access is a must).

Or maybe just go there as a part time low skill worker, so that my whole trip is funded and at the same time I don't have to work more than a few hours a day. I just want the feeling of having lived in Antarctica for a few months. (internet access is a must).

Your idea of an "expedition" is pretty damn weird.

They need electricians, technicians, mechanics, carpenters, cooks, probably sysadmins and much more over there. It's absolutely possible to get work in Antarctica and other remote scientific research stations for "normal" people. The American station at McMurdo have a population of 200+ people in the winter months and over 1000 in the summer months.

edit: See this link[0] for some information about life in Antarctiva and how to get a job.

[0]: https://www.coolantarctica.com/Community/find_a_job_in_antar...

Thanks. Looks like a very useful url (saving for future).

For what it is worth, my wife and I visited some Chilean and Russian bases in Antarctica a couple of years ago as part of a tourist visit. The Chilean base was military search & rescue and they were literally sitting around watching DVDs. The Chilean guys especially seemed absolutely desperate for new faces/human contact and welcomed us into their base with open arms (and even offered us beers!) The Russian base I could only enter one room (and a church!) so did not see how busy the were or how desperate they were in there.

Some of the other bases that I could not go in to looked like basically just 2 to 4 huts/sheds - nothing like the "village" style bases/stations with loads of people milling about you might be familiar seeing. They didn't looks like fun or inviting places to hang-out at.

From what I understand, the scientific bases aren't really set up for carrying part-timers. E.g. the scientists are also the cooks and the mechanics etc. I don't think they'd pay to transport, feed, heat, and give a bed to someone to just do a couple of hours work a day then hog the super-expensive bandwidth on the satellite link? They'd much rather give that fuel, food, heat and bed to a scientist I think, or at least not someone there for free accommodation & internet.

tl;dr - join the chilean military and hope you get stationed out there.

The British Antarctic Survey website has an excellent list of all the jobs people have [1], which will be similar to the other research stations. There's only one vacancy, but they'll recruit later for next year.

I'd expect the baseline is a standard public-sector working week (around 36 hours), although the scientists probably do more.

[1] https://www.bas.ac.uk/jobs/jobs-in-antarctica/

Thanks. Saving that url.

What is your background and nationality? I've been to Antarctica and Greenland as a physicist. I'm not very experienced compared to many (and the most hardcore thing I've done is sleeping in a tent on the Greenland ice cap), but I may be able to lead in you the right direction.

Hey thanks so much for offering guidance. I wasn't expecting this much response (considering other comments offering help too).

I'm in the process of getting nationality in the west but that's a few years away (and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get in without that nationality).

(As for background, I'm trying to finish PhD in a STEM discipline, so I hope that could count).

I'll keep your contact in mind and let you know when I'm ready. Thanks again.

I would try Finland, Greenland or Iceland first in your case. Looks a much easier way to have a similar experience with much more self-control about what you want to do or when you quit and exit the experience.

You have a point. I should definitely try the more accessible place first. Thanks.

> putting in 12-14 hour days of pulling a sled in minus 40C, you have to

Oddly they include the redundant "C" for -40 but don't include it, or the "F," in the next paragraph:

> by running outside naked in minus 30 and rubbing yourself down with snow

Then they restore redundant ones a few paragraphs later:

> * It may be as low as minus 40C outside* . . . which in minus 40C is quite high

They already established the context, C, it would be more ridiculous to switch units but if they were unit switchers they would include it.

I think he's saying -40C and -40F are the same thing, and is complaining about the units being on the 40 and not the 30.

It's a rather extreme nitpick.

This is quite the nitpick.

We have had the units nitpick for distance and temperature now. There must be another, wonder if we can get a third?

On this page, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17055920 is the nitpick for energy.

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