Training with Conrad Dickinson

Conrad Dickinson No, I'm not lazy. I have a day job, write fiction in my spare time as well as training like a Spartan and running as much of the social media aspect as I can handle. Updating my blog every two weeks seems reasonable right now as there isn't a huge amount to tell. Or is there?

Well yes, there most certainly is, but that's all the motivational work that sustains me and my team members. We'll dig into more of the psychology in upcoming posts.

Now, the part you really want to know: Who is Conrad Dickinson?

Conrad Dickinson, Polar Explorer and Bit of a Legend

The subheading says it all! Conrad is a polar explorer. He has over thirty years experience trekking some of the most arduous cold weather destinations in the world. He's the only British explorer to complete the 'Polar Grand Slam' of walking to Greenland and the north and south poles (but watch this space... :) ). On top of this, he and his amazing wife, Hilary, were the first married couple to ski the full distance route to the south pole.

Yes, I did say his wife. A fantastic woman who probably has more resolve and determination than many men I've met. Oh and she's also a great conversationalist, cracking host and the food she cooks is fantastic.

Pretty impressive credentials, no matter how you look at it.

On top of clocking up more ice hours than most of have hot breakfasts, Conrad also runs polar training courses. For anyone interested, you'll need to go here:

On Conrad's advice, and given my previous experience, I attended his 'Polar Fast Track' course. I'm not going to reveal the exact details of the course, for obvious reasons. Needless to say, the weekend was effectively a brain dump of everything Conrad has learned during his time guiding and trekking. The tips on how to get a tent erected fast, no matter the weather, were priceless as shelter really is a life saver at the poles.

Conrad kindly agreed to put up my tent for me!

Other Polar Travel Skills

I've traveled to many places, usually by the dead of night, under cover of rain or flitting between the ambient noise. For ever destination and theatre my map and compass have been a lifeline; those two items really were, and still are, the difference between life and death. Conrad taught me something more valuable: faith in navigating without a map.

The north pole is a pretty flat, featureless place. The polar ice is constantly on the move and there's little point in trying to create a map of a place that is ever shifting.

So how do you get to the pole without a map? Easy - a GPS and a good, old fashioned compass that reads in degrees, NOT mils (anyone that undertands how to navigate accurately can be forgiven for having heart palpitations). For those of you who don't know, mils are far more accurate (6400 mils on a compass, as opposed to 380 degrees on other models).

Using a GPS, you work out the next leg of your journey, take the bearing and then transfer it to your compass. GPS goes away to save battery life and, having picked a reference point, you walk on a bearing. Easy, yes? I thought so too. Give it a try sometime (and you have to use a compass with degrees around the dial).

Any Other Lessons?

Yes, lots. The weekend was one big, never ending stream of information. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, it was the most enjoyable training package I've ever taken. Even the dreaded PowerPoint slides held my attention without me ever looking away or experiencing the usual  feeling of loathing or bleeding from the eyes!

If any of you are thinking of doing any kind of cold weather trek, then you really must go on one of Conrad's training courses. If nothing else you'll get to see the Roman ruins on Hadrian's wall, not far from his home (part of the navigation exercise).