x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

How do you cope with extreme cold?

In the latest round of questions submitted by schoolchildren to Adrian Hayes, pupils from the Dubai Modern High School ask about his childhood ambitions, how he copes with the cold and what his next adventure will be.

Shreya Sreeram asks Adrian her question.
Shreya Sreeram asks Adrian her question.

In the latest round of questions submitted by schoolchildren to Adrian Hayes, pupils from the Dubai Modern High School ask about his childhood ambitions, how he copes with the cold and what his next adventure will be.

Yes, there's not many people as stupid enough as me to do that. Most people who end up doing these things are either from Canada, Norway - especially the Norwegians - and Sweden.

The good thing about setting goals is that whatever goal you set - whether it's sitting exams, whether it's a driving test, whether it's [in] your career, whether it's going to the poles or climbing mountains - you've got to keep setting them higher because if you don't, you've got nothing else to live for. At your age and my age we've all got dreams, and if you stop dreaming, you stop living.

Yes we did, and quite a bit. What I'm using to talk to you now is an Iridum satellite phone, which is the only phone that works up here on the polar region. You can't take your Nokia phone and text message; it just doesn't work, so we've got this phone. We've got: a data-transmission kit for sending the e-mails, the dispatches to the website, sending text messages; a small personal computer; we've got heavy camera kit - Derek's a professional photographer so he's got all his camera gear; I've got video gear; and we've got iPods.

We keep that a secret, Zayed, first of all because we don't know, and sometimes you don't know if you want to do another one like this, and after it you get itchy feet and you start to think again. We've all got thoughts about what we would like to do next, so just keep your ear to the ground and you will find out soon.

Well, the North Pole, South Pole, Greenland, you all feel cold at various times. This is the least cold it's been. Down to about minus 30C, we're generally OK, but after that the effects get really serious and when it's minus 60C, what do you do? Basically you try to resolve yourself as soon as you can because you're cold, you're in a lot of pain from this cold, but you're also worried because there's the threat of frostbite. Those three things make it pretty serious. You get more used to it as you go along on these expeditions. Frostbite can get very bad. Prevention is key.

You face a lot of difficulties. To my mind, the day you have an expedition without any problems then it's not an expedition. When you've got resupplies, if something goes wrong - your boot breaks, your sled breaks, you run out of fuel, you run out of food - let's call in a plane and get some more. But when you're doing it unsupported, you've got to make sure everything works.