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Walking In The Antarctic Alone, The Invisible Enem
浏览次数:4181次 更新时间:2020-12-02

By Xiangjun

Fight the windmill

In October 2019, Wen Xu, who was 32 years old, left Beijing. He was going to do something no one had ever done before —— to traverse the Antarctic without supply nor help.

They learned that a German female explorer would take the same route as he would to the Antarctic three days before the departure. "Of course, I want my husband to stay ahead; we had given up so much the last two years." Jiao Jiao quit her job, took full responsibility for fund-raising, publicity, and other errands to let her husband focus on training a hundred percent. They had to cross the reality to traverse the Antarctic.


The hardest thing in the world is raising money. No matter how many times Jiao Jiao had promoted this, not many people were interested in exploration and even care less about climate change. They all thought it was too far, no actual reward, and a publicity stunt.


Once Chen Chunshi followed Wen Xu to shoot an activity during the Great Wall Festival, people sang and danced on the watchtower in the night. Wen Xu talked about the climate crisis and melting glaciers on the stage with a serious face. Crowds of people came and went. They listened for a while, then went back to the party. Nobody knew whether they understood or not.


Chen Chunshi stood behind the camera felt Wen Xu was like Don Quixote. "Though people don't understand and don't care, he was serious, as if humanity's fate was in his hand, like a knight on his way to fight the windmills."



Persuade himself

"The hardest thing was to persuade me." He didn't have enough funds, the documentary's director quit last minute, he needed to pay the one million fees himself, but he was still determined to go. He fully invested in his career for two years. "If I did not persist, I couldn't do anything else."


In October 2019, the fourteenth day after his baby girl was born. Wen Xu held his daughter in his arms again before he set foot on the road in a hurry facing the family's tearful faces. He was afraid to look back.


He finally started, but accidents awaited. They calculated everything, even the kilograms of the food and equipment. But on the first stop, Chile's capital, there was a large scale riot because the subway fee raised four cents. Wen Xu was there, but his equipment was holdup by the custom.


The siren was ringing non-stop for intimidation purposes, shops were broken into, and houses were burned. He walked past the parade team every day to pick up his equipment, but he walked back every day, disappointed. The arrow had just left the bow; Wen Xu fell down a deep hole in a foreign country. How was he stuck there? The original plan was to take the November 1st's plane to the Antarctic, and he missed it, then the next one on the 10th, then the next one on the 18th.


Every second count

The day before the next flight, the sleigh boat, which carried all his hope, finally arrived.


Wen Xu, who had suffered for twelve days, ran to the airport without shaving his face. At that time, he only had seventy-five days to explore, which used to be eighty-seven days.


The legendary German female explorer Anya was holdup as same as his sleigh. They finally met on the plane to the start point. Wen Xu was 1.85 meters tall, and compared to him, 29-year-old Anya was small. Her strength was not to be underestimated. She accomplished 7+2 in two years and summitted K2 without oxygen this year.


At 77.5 degrees south latitude, their mutual start point, Berkner Island, Anya left in a hurry without saying goodbye after the plane had arrived. They talked about taking it easy today; Wen Xu just walked one kilometer. Later he found out that Anya walked twenty kilometers.


A rough beginning

Comparing to the competition, Wen Xu, who only walked one kilometer, wanted nothing but to adjust himself,


You can encounter hurricanes, blizzard, extreme coldness, ice cracks, and crevice on thousands of kilometers of land without people nor life. Everything he needed to stay alive was on his sleigh, which was 2.4 meters long and weighed 180 kilograms. He was his own energy source. The attitude was more important than anything.


Soon after, a series of misfortunes shook his confidence. Antarctic weather changed fast; the wind came on the second day. When he took off his gloves to wear the down jacket, a sudden wind attacked him. His gloves were blown away when he followed his instinct to chase the gloves, and another wind blew his down jacket away.


He gave up his gloves without hesitation and went to chase his down jacket. After he ran for a while, he looked back and could see nothing. He couldn't see his sleigh nor his trail. His heart tightened; the sleigh was everything to him. He gave his down jacket up and found his way back according to the GPS.


In the midst of the heavy wind, he found his sleigh back, but fear rose in Wen Xu's heart. He couldn't see anything, and he lost two core equipment, his gloves and down jacket, in an instant. How about people?


Stranded by the wind and snow

It was just the third day, but accidents kept coming and changed Wen Xu's heart silently. The Antarctic had bigger challenges. It was simply the start.


On the fourth day, an actual blizzard came. The weather forecast said the upcoming week was all bad weather. The lowest temperature was 35 Celsius below zero, 7 to 12 level strong wind with ice froze the road ahead. "I had never seen such a difficult beginning in the late thirty years. The weather was abnormal." Lars, a very experienced explorer advisor, commented on the phone.


Climate change is affecting Antarctica rapidly. He was all alone in the blizzard.


The maximum wind was 30 meters per second, the wind was roaring, and Wen Xu, who weighed eighty-five kilograms, was swaying in the wind. He could barely stand. He was dragging his sleigh and alone; his hat was tied to the minimum. He bowed, walked against the wind like passing through layers of white walls and fighting invisible beasts.


The biggest challenge was not the weather but the suffering inside. He was delayed in Chile for twelve days; the sustained blizzards cut his time short again.


He woke up and fell asleep again, and he calculated the time like the most precious thing in the world. He had to walk at least 26.7 kilometers per day to finish. However, he had set off for nine days, but he only accomplished less than 50 kilometers, which was 5.5 kilometers per day. He was as slow as a turtle.


"Why couldn't I walk?" During the worst condition, he was stranded in his tent for the entire two days. Because of the midnight sun, there is no night in Antarctica. Everywhere he saw was white; when he closed his eyes, he saw whiteness as well. Time seemed to be prolonged and passed little by little.


The unbearable heaviness

When the cloud disappeared, twenty-four hours of unset sun shone on the ground again. Wen Xu, who reserved so much energy, started to walk more than 26 kilometers per day.


The increased speed made Jiao Jiao, who was far away, was happy for him, yet she couldn't stop worrying. At last, the Antarctic's transverse ranges lay in front of him. The first stage had come to an end. The biggest risk lurked in the doorway to Antarctic's inner land.


The mountain pass is only 1,100 meters tall, but it is steep and covers in cracks. The most critical thing was that Wen Xu had to carry a sleigh that weighed 130 kilograms; it was like climbing over a mountain with two people tied on his waist. What if


Jiao Jiao, who lay beside their two children, stayed awake the entire night. She was worried about her loved one, who was far away. How could he drag a sleigh up a dangerous cliff? How much pressure he had to endure? How strong could the wind be?


Her worrying nights were his dangerous days. Wen Xu finally entered the Antarctic plateau after twenty-seven days.


"It felt like a small victory." Wen Xu was excited when he set foot on the plateau, but soon the sleigh mark on the snow extinguished his excitement. It was Anya's track. He hadn't seen anyone for a month; he thought he had passed her. Apparently, he was still behind her.


"I didn't want to compete with her, but she was like a reference and huge blows on my confidence." He couldn't go faster because of his sleigh. Anya only planned to reach the South Pole; her sleigh was 80 kilograms lighter than his.


In his 130-kilogram-sleigh, there was food and fuel prepared for the latter half of the journey and 10 kilograms of samples and equipment for the scientific survey. He collected samples every ten to fifteen kilometers. Every bottle of the inner Antarctic ice contained the mystery of climate change. In addition to exploration, he valued these pressures for the scientific survey more, and he could not give them up.


The curse of number one

On day twenty-nine, there was a tent ahead of him though he hadn't seen it. Wen Xu finally powered through his physical and psychological limits and adjusted his attitude. He walked to the southernmost alone, passed 87 degrees, 88 degrees and 89 degrees south latitude. He stopped thinking about arriving at the South Pole first, and then he saw a red tent on the snow plateau in the distance.


He had walked alone for fifty days, and he saw a human being again. The only two people in the no-man world met at 40 kilometers away from the South Pole.


She was resting, and he could pass her without her knowing, but Wen Xu stopped. "What should I do? Should I say hello or leave a note before I continue?"


The honor and world's record seemed tempting. Human being has always been obsessed with the curse of number one. He was no different. In the competition field, first means everything, and second means nothing.


A hundred years ago, British explorer Scott reached the South Pole after countless difficulties. What awaited him was a flying Norway national flag and a note which said Amundsen claimed the first.


"What were all our hardships, tolerance, and torture for?" The desperate Scott exploration team started to go back with the broken dream, and no one returned home alive.



A better ending

"Is being first that important?" Wen Xu thought about it for an hour on the endless snow land until Anya noticed a noise and came out. She seemed to see a ghost and packed her luggage in a hurry. Wen Xu chased after her.


"How about we reach the South Pole together?" After an awkward handshake, Wen Xu finally said his thought. The German girl did not reply, but she continued to walk with a reluctant face.


They walked for an hour, and Wen Xu tried to convince her again during break time. She didn't answer still and towed the sleigh away again. When Wen Xu caught up with her for the third time and slowed down intentionally, Anya finally came clean. She said she wanted to be the first one to reach the South Pole. Wen Xu could do nothing but said, "it's preferable to walk together. If not, we had to see who is faster."


As they were getting closer to the South Pole, Wen Xu was obviously faster, and he kept looking back. Anya accepted his kindness at last when she realized there was no way to exceed him.


They, who chased each other along the way, walked in parallel during the last ten kilometers. At 14:50, January 9th, they reach the South Pole together. They created a new record of reaching the South Pole by the longest route without help and supply solo.


"We have more choices than competing against each other." Jiao Jiao, who was on the opposite side of the earth, was not surprised when she heard the news. "It's something Wen Xu would do." She couldn't help but think what would Amundsen and Scott do if they could choose again.


"Convince her to reach the South Pole together is a better ending than to do it alone." When Wen Xu stood on the South Pole, everywhere he faced was north. And the giant United States scientific research station in front of him was named AmundsenScott South Pole Station in honor of the race a hundred years ago.


Back to the beginning

"I am finally home." Wen Xu landed on the Beijing Capital International Airport after isolated for two months, and he saw that people around him were wearing surgical masks. He returned home full of excitement. What had happened?


Jiao Jiao's eyes were tearful when she saw her husband in the terrified crowd. He was thin and dark and pushing a two-meter-long sleigh.


People only realize how precious "whistleblowers" are when a catastrophe occurs. But the whistleblowers were unheard and alone at the beginning.


She didn't know how many people listened to the Wen Xu, who had traversed the extreme coldness. He had called on climate change for a long time. At least, during that moment, her lover returned home safe.


It was the midnight of January 23rd, the day before Lunar New Year Eve. Wuhan was sealed. After that day, everything was changed.


An invisible virus paralyzed the entire world and spread around the globe. No one could tell what the future held, not even themselves.


When bad news such as Antarctica was more than 20 degrees Celsius, and 28 types of the virus were discovered in the ice core of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau kept coming, Wen Xu was more determined than ever to act his ideas about climate change.


"Back to the beginning, Antarctic was only the first step, not the end game." There were regrets about traversing, but he had no time to dwell on it. When catastrophes happen at such a high rate, to call on climate change had become his more affirmative life goal.


This road is even more lonely than the Antarctic, hope this time, he could meet more people with the same destination in the future no one can tell.

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