Retired dairy farmer skis to South Pole

John Gluckman in NZ with his South Pole certificate.

Serial adventurer, explorer, climber and endurance athlete John Gluckman has added skiing to the South Pole to his already formidable list of achievements.

The retired Matakana dairy farmer recently returned from a month-long trip to Antarctica, where he and three others took eight days to ski the last degree of latitude to the geographical South Pole.

Temperatures got down to minus 35 degrees, with almost zero visibility at times and, when one of the party was forced to give up, John ended up hauling two 35kg sleds of equipment.

This wasn’t John’s first visit to Antarctica. In the past, he’s completed the Antarctic Marathon and climbed the highest Antarctic mountain, Vinsom Massif – and he was keen to add reaching the pole to his achievements.

“I’d crossed Greenland with the same group, Polar Explorers, and they said the South Pole was a really good trip, so I thought ‘why not?’. I’ve got to do it while I still can,” he said. “I’m 68 now, but pretty strong for my age. I had to get fit, so I did a lot of running and took my cross-country skis down to Snowplanet. I skied up and down the hill there for 90 minutes at a time, three times a week.”

On his return to New Zealand in early February, John detoured briefly to the NZ Masters Games in Whanganui, where he won a bronze in the 3000m race. Now he is busy planning an expedition to the North Pole next year.

“If I get there, that will give me the explorers’ Grand Slam, which is to have climbed the highest mountain on every continent – which I’ve done – and to get to the South and North Poles,” he said. “If I get to the North Pole alive, I will have stood on both axes of the earth, and I’m not sure how many people have done that, but it can’t be too many.”

John Gluckman at the South Pole with Mervyn the monkey, the globetrotting mascot of Helloworld in Warkworth, which organises the logistics for his many adventures.

He said experience and temperament were often more important than actual age.

“As you get older, you learn to train smarter and to do things smarter. Experience often makes up for getting older, and your technique improves,” he said.

“As long as you’ve still got the temperament and you have experience, that counts more than sheer fitness. If you’ve not got the right temperament, you’ve got nothing.”

To read more about John’s adventure, and hear his impressions, scroll down to the entry for Monday, January 14 on this link:


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