Images by Keoki Flagg
South Pole Push a success
After nearly two weeks and 75 miles of pushing in his sit-ski, with the help of his incredible teammates, Tal Fletcher and Doug Stoup, Grant Korgan (center) strapped on standing skis, and skied the final 100′ to the bottom of the world, in -45 degree Fahrenheit conditions, on the centennial anniversary of the Robert Falcon Scott Terra Nova expedition, to raise awareness of the High Fives Foundation, spinal cord injury recovery awareness and to showcase the enduring human spirit.
In the end, love triumphs over all
Elated to be in the success of a year-long endeavor, Grant Korgan and his team arrived at the South Pole on the historic Jan. 17 date, topped only by being rewarded with the surprise of his life – his soul mate and wife Shawna was flown to the pole (in secret and as a surprise to Grant) to be there for the arrival of the expedition. Tears, hugs, emotion and pure gratitude filled our team, and all who surrounded this scene (20 people at the pole with another 150 scientists with their faces smashed to the Scott/Amundsen station window nearby) with the purest joy that is unconditional love.
The South Pole Expedition team (Tal Fletcher, Doug Stoup, Grant Korgan, Shawna Korgan, Keoki Flagg, Tom Day and Petter Nyquist celebrate the victory of the journey by surrounding the geographic South Pole scepter. We are scattered around the world as each and every one of us are in different time zones in this photo.
The purest air
Antarctica’s air has a feeling and a taste all its own. Here Grant Korgan takes a moment from one of his nearly 250,000 push strokes necessary for he and the team to complete their mission to the bottom of the globe, to break open the entombed enclosure frosted together for most of the day. With both of Grant’s arms and hands completely devoted to keeping him moving (or staying warm depending on how you look at it), working to keep an open airway is critical in both breathing and caloric intake for Grant’s daily progress.
Cold, very cold
Temperatures of roughly -30 to -55 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill were a constant antagonist, which required tremendous strategy to work with for the nearly 9+ hours per day that Grant and the team spent in full-tilt workouts and remained highly exposed to for the almost two weeks that the team spent with only a tent to return to.
Team work was the name of the game
While Doug navigated upfront, Grant and Tal worked a delicate and constant dance of keeping Grant moving with minimal stops. If Grant stopped moving for more than a few seconds, his body temps would drop dangerously low. Thus, Tal was everyday, all day, on top of putting snacks directly into his mouth (no stopping to eat, and certainly no lunch), having strategic outerwear on the ready to address changes in weather, temperatures and/or body heat, and making sure Grant had everything he needed to never stop moving forward during the daily 9+ hours of all-out effort the mission’s success required of him.
Every story has a hero and to Grant, achieving his dream of leaving the sit-ski behind and skiing the final 100’ of the team’s 75-mile trek across the barren ice to the South Pole comes down to the heroism of synergy, brotherhood and team. Both Doug and Tal each gave one ski and one pole to Grant, strapped the gear on his feet, helped him up and with Korgan in the middle, both men walked by his side the final 100 feet into the reality of Grant’s personal dream to stand and ski the final leg to the geographic South Pole.
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