Featured Customer: Ben Thackwray
© Andrew Robertson. Ben Thackwray, (red gloves), on the final stretch of the North Face of Mount Everest. Elevation approx 8,800m.
This month we got in touch with customer Ben Thackwray to find out more about his most recent use of Expedition Foods.
Ben is a professional adventurer and expedition leader. In 2001 he set out an ambition to complete three challenges, in what he calls his Adventure Trilogy: to row the Atlantic, to summit and traverse Everest, and to cross Antarctica unsupported.
At this point in time he's crossed two of those expeditions off his list, and next year will endeavour to complete the final one, which will see Ben and his team attempt the longest ever crossing of the Antarctic continent; some 600 miles more than the current record.
In 2007 Ben was part of a team that set a new world record for crossing the Atlantic between the Canary Islands and Antigua, and at the same time became the second faster team ever to cross the ocean in a conventional rowing boat.
Astonishingly the team consisted of just five rowers, whilst the French team who set the record by crossing between the Canaries and Barbados had more than double that.
In May this year Ben joined an expedition to summit Everest, and whilst unfortunately they were not given permission to attempt the traverse, he did successfully summit, and as we've heard from other mountaineers, getting to the top is sometimes a bittersweet experience.
EF: Did you eat the expedition Foods Meals, or were they part of emergency rations?
BT: I used them as a personal addition to the food we had above 7000m as I know I can stomach them.
EF: Which meal do you like most?
BT: I've used the Expedition Foods for years, I think my favourite is actually the Shepherd's Pie, but to be honest I only ever chose the meals with the highest calorie to weight ratio.
EF: What was the most difficult aspect of the expedition?
BT: Honestly? Boredom! There is a LOT of waiting for good weather and acclimatizing, when all you really want to do is get to the good climbing and above 8000m. I loved climbing Everest and I expect I'll be going back to do it again at some point but I prefer expeditions where you have to be on the move everyday.
EF: I read on your Facebook page that you have just had to have some fingertips removed because of frostbite. How many fingers were affected and are you really going to make cufflinks out of them?
BT: It was just the tips of two fingers and yes they are being made into cuff links, I might as well get some use out them!
EF: In the video clip on your website from the summit (here) you say that you're absolutely knackered. Was fatigue the overriding feeling when you reached the top, or were you able to take a minute and enjoy your achievement?
BT: This is going to sound bad but I never had any doubt I would get to the top so getting there was 'just one of those things'. I was knackered, and happy to be there but I didn't really feel any triumph in getting to the top, particularly having had to climb over the bodies of people we knew along the way to get there, but it is beautiful and I did enjoy the climbing above 8000m.
EF: I don't think it sounds bad. Having absolute conviction is surely a good thing, and certainly something I imagine you'll need for the last part of your Trilogy. Thanks for your time and best of luck with the preparations for the Endure More Antarctic Traverse Expedition, it looks like an epic journey.
To find out more about Ben and the expeditions he's undertaking, visit his website: www.benthackwray.com