MANDALUYONG, Philippines - Glaciers are melting. A thermometer would read -50°C to -100 °C. Winds are moving anywhere from 100 kilometers per hour to 400 kilometers per hour. There are no polar bears or blooming flowers. There are no signs of life. Eerie silence. There is nothing to see but clear blue sky and a wide expanse of snow-covered earth.
But 57-year old Bobby del Castillo, a professional golf instructor and extreme sportsman, will embark on an ambitious expedition to this so-called last frontier, the geographic South Pole in the Antartic region. His target is end-November or early December. If he succeeds, he would be the first Filipino ever to reach this patch of earth, which sits atop a windswept icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 meters.
The expedition will officially start off from Patriot Hills in Antartic where he would begin to walk 1,170 kilometers on an unfriendly blanket of snow. In here, the ice is estimated to be about 2,700 meters thick.
It’s not just another adventure for del Castillo. Although he spends his time trekking desserts, climbing mountains or diving into the deep blue sea, del Castillo said his expedition to the South Pole would be more than just an ordinary trek.
Del Castillo aims to highlight the worsening problem of Climate Change and he chose the South Pole because it is here where the threat is rapidly unraveling.
By early December, del Castillo hopes to reach the geographic South Pole, bringing with him 1 million prayer petitions.
“I will ask the Filipino people if we could as a people, as a nation, pray again together for Climate Change,” del Castillo said in an interview with this blogger for TH!NK3.
The expedition is being organized by the Climate Changers of the Philippines, a group of individuals who aim to raise environmental awareness.
Del Castillo, who has just finished his rigorous training here, is leaving next month for New Zealand for climate training and simulation of the harsh South Pole weather, the group said in a separate statement on the forthcoming expedition. He said that New Zealand’s winter season would be helpful in partly capturing South Pole’s extreme weather.
He will then fly to Chile in October for further training and which is also the jump off point for his expedition to the South Pole. “I wanted to jump off from Chile because I wanted to highlight the drought conditions caused by the melting of glaciers,” he said in the interview.
From Chile, he will take a four-hour flight to Patriot Hills on the Antartic Shelf to commence his icy trek. He will be followed by a New York-based camera man but up to Patriot Hills only, the group also said in its statement.
Del Castillo will be trekking on skis on thick and thin snowfield blanketing the vast South Pole’s frozen snow bed, it also said.
“At the last stretch of his trek before reaching the geographical center, Del Castillo has to pound the thick snow floor non-stop, which could even last whole day of trekking, since stopping would mean instant death due to frostbite. Del Castillo is also obligated by the Antarctic Treaty regulations to bring back all he carries to the Pole, including his waste,” it added.
Aside from raising awareness on Climate Change, del Castillo hopes to shatter the world record of 33 days achieved by Canadian outdoorsmen Ray Zahab, Richard Weber and Kevin Valley which they accomplished last year. This time, del Castillo will try to complete the trek in just 30 days.
Del Castillo is keeping his fingers crossed. Raising awareness on the alarming issue of Climate Change is an important start, he said.
He believes that each and every human being can do their part in helping the environment by simple day-to-day things such as reducing their trash, conserving water, planting a tree, protecting the birds and practicing proper waste management.
He won’t stop at the South Pole, he vowed. His campaign would be a life-long journey, beyond the crevices of the earth, lifeless desserts, dark, blue seas and against powerful winds and vertical mountains.
The photos show Bobby del Castillo in his various adventures around the globe. Photos are from the Climate Changers of the Philippines