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First German to trek to South Pole returns

The Local · 23 Jan 2013, 15:58

Published: 23 Jan 2013 15:58 GMT+01:00

Other BMW executives go on skiing holidays in the Alps around this time of year. Roland Krüger, who is about to take over as German regional director of Bavarian auto-giant, went on a 890-kilometre, 49-day skiing trip through temperatures of -25C to become one of the few people who have trekked to the South Pole unsupported and unassisted.

"The ground conditions were particularly difficult this year," said the 47-year-old, who had been to the South Pole as part of a team in 2005. He had to contend with uneven ice, strong winds, and constant "whiteouts" - when snow reduces visibility to such an extent that the horizon disappears altogether, leaving the individual completely disorientated. "That was extremely difficult," he said. "I lost a lot of time."

There were other troubles on the way: at one point the uneven ground broke the sled he used to drag his 130 kilos of supplies with him. He managed to repair it once the weather had cleared up. "If you're well-prepared, you can deal with anything," he said. To keep his morale up, he listened to music on an iPod on the way.

But the adverse conditions meant he had to give up his original plan of crossing the entire continent of Antarctica, and had himself flown out once he'd reached the pole.

Krüger spent four years planning the trip and training for its physical exertions. "I trained my stamina and endurance a lot, and my leg muscles - and, this might sound weird, I put on a lot of weight," he said. This turned out to be a good idea, because his trek left him 15 kilos lighter. "That's completely normal in the cold and under the physical strain."

Krüger stayed in touch with a specially-hired company every day to check his position via GPS, and spoke to a friend in Norway who would record his progress in a blog.

Story continues below…

By the end, Krüger found the psychological difficulties as tough as anything. "Suddenly I just started missing my family," the father of two said. "At that point making phone calls isn't enough anymore."

The Local/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:05 January 23, 2013 by ChrisRea
Chapeau! People like Mr. Krüger give me hope that the human race has a future. They also help me putting my own problems into perspective. Once again, hat off!
11:26 January 24, 2013 by raandy
ChrisRea are you considering a trek to the "North Pole" ?
01:49 January 25, 2013 by ChrisRea
No. But I would like to finish a mountain ultra-marathon, for example "Marathon 7500", even within the Hobby category (45 km, 3200 m positive elevation difference). Last year I was disqualified after 25.5 km and 2,700 m positive elevation difference because I arrived at the control point 51 minutes too late (11 hours 51 minutes instead of 11 hours). So I could not dare to dream about a trek to the North Pole, I am not even in the semi-professional category.
15:47 January 26, 2013 by raandy
Sounds like you are an energetic sports enthusiast. Krüger was not a pro either but determined and had financial support as well.

Good luck on the ult-marathon !
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