Calgarian prepares to ski across Antarctica, scale lone remaining summit on remarkable list
Published Thursday, September 6, 2018 6:18PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 6, 2018 7:37PM MDT
A self-described outdoor athlete and adventurer plans to complete his goal of scaling the highest summit of every continent and hopes his undertaking will inspire others and raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
“I’m going to go to Antarctica in November, which is the southern hemisphere’s summer,” explained Laval St. Germain. “I’m going to ski from the coast of Antarctica, a place called Hercules Inlet, to the South Pole. It’s about a 1,200 kilometre ski. I’ll be pulling everything I need for two months on the ice in a sled that’s going to weigh 10 kilos.”
St. Germain expects the skiing portion of his pilgrimage, which he will complete on his own, will take roughly 50 days. He will then board a Kenn Borek Twin Otter and fly back to Union Glacier along the coast of Antarctica. “It’s a blue ice runway meaning that the runway is made on ice,” said St. Germain. “I’ll fly there and then I’ll start a two week expedition to climb the highest mountain on the continent of Antarctica.”
Mount Vinson is the lone summit amongst the list of the highest peak on each continent that the adventure has not scaled. Once he makes it to the top, he will ski off Vinson and begin his trip back to Calgary with plans to arrive in January.
He will face wind chills below minus 50 Celsius, pull a 100 kg sled and carry all of his food. His diet will be high-fat, high-energy and include pemmican, olive oil and butter. “That will make up the vast majority of the weight that I have to carry behind me.”
St.Germain previously lost three fingers to frostbite and has a healthy respect for the dangers frigid conditions pose.
There are no manuals for the planned endeavour and St. Germain has reached out to others who have completed the trip in an effort to gain tips and insight.
Despite his remarkable accomplishments, which also included a solo rowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the Calgarian says he’s, for the most part, unremarkable and encourages others to pursue their own goals.
“I think that’s the point of doing these types of things,” said St. Germain, “To show that a regular Calgary dad, that holds down a real job and does all the things that we all do as dads and people with careers, can pull these things off.”
“We all have it in us. I think a lot of us tend to say ‘I couldn’t do that. He’s got something special, some special sauce, whatever it is in the DNA’. I don’t think that’s true. I just seem to have an ability to pick a goal and then I do whatever it takes to fill in the steps that get me to that goal.”
The adventurer, who calls himself a good endurance athlete with some strength, says his training regime ahead of the Antarctic trip is no different than his regular workout program. “Every day I work out, run, cycle. My workouts are based primarily on being an all-around athlete.”
St. Germain has secured several sponsorship commitments and hopes the attention his unique undertaking garners will raise awareness and funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
“Part of this is raising money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, specifically for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and for the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton,” explained the adventurer. “It’s not just about treating the disease. I want to do something to promote health lifestyles, healthy living.”
The Alberta Cancer Foundation is close to his heart as he lost his father-in-law to the disease and has several co-workers who have been recently diagnosed. He had set a fundraising goal of $200,000 ahead of his cross-Atlantic rowing trip but raised $60,000. He plans to reach his original fundraising goal. “I want to complete the $200,000. Whether it takes two more expeditions or just this one, I’d love to do that.”
St. Germain is already eyeing a North Pole trip and suspects he would be the first person to reach the seven summits, both poles and solo row the Atlantic Ocean.
To donate to the cause visit Alberta Cancer Foundation - South Pole and Mount Vinson
With files from CTV's Bill Macfarlane