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Expedition Leader Park Young-seok’s Journal

Posted April. 22, 2005 23:44,   


The wind direction changed again, and it started to blow from the north. For days, a fair wind from the south was helpful. Now things are different. What can I do? I have to be stronger and keep walking…

In the morning, porridge was prepared with too much water in it. All of us ate a bowl of the watery porridge. With the food in short supply, it would be better to fill our stomachs with water. In fact, it was my decision to abandon some of food supplies to lighten the load. It would not have been unexpected to see my members disgruntled, but they say nothing. That makes me feel guiltier.

Ahead of us, we have lots of obstacles and difficulties waiting for us. At the beginning of our voyage, we have encountered glacial hills around 83 degrees north. This time, a bigger one is in front of us. We expected the landscape to be quite flat beyond 85 degrees, but we were wrong. It is really unbearable. What makes us keep going is tenacity and an unyielding spirit. I shouted, “Let’s go!” and started pulling the sleighs. Unsurprisingly, my team members were unresponsive again. They are too exhausted to answer.

All through that morning, we lost our way in the glacial hills. That was when our guide had a tough time. A guide is supposed to make sure that he is on the right path and then lead the whole team. He has to walk way more than others.

Beyond the glacial hilly area, the ground was dotted with leads, which are spots of seawater seen through the crevices of the glacier. Why are we running into a series of difficulties today?

We encountered one lead every 100 meters. They are pretty shaky when you step on them, but with a layer of ice over them, we were able to cross them. Every moment you set your foot on them, they slightly shook, giving you creepy sensation. But this is the fastest route.

It was 4:30 p.m. In front of us there appeared another lead that looked at least 200 meters wide. We weren’t able to cross this one, so we took a bypass, wasting time. Jeong Chan-il, our youngest member, fell into a lead yesterday, and he looked nervous. I tried to encourage him, saying, “It’s ok. Follow me.” To be honest, I was nervous, too.

It was 5:00 p.m. before we left all the leads behind us. We set up tents. I gathered the members, who were preparing dinner, and took out two apples, two oranges and two cans of beer I had been hiding in the sleigh. I then put four matches on a mini cake, our between-meal snack. Today is Hong Seong-taek’s 40th birthday.

“Have you been hiding these all this time?” everyone asked. All members seemed to brighten up. We had youngest member sing “Happy Birthday,” and clapped. They had been too weary to talk. Now they laugh and chat. That’s it. That’s our spirit of teamwork.