Training update from Jonny Huntington

In our recent update, we hear from Jonny Huntington regarding his progress over the past two months of training and the valuable insights he has gained during this period. As we approach the Summer season in just a few weeks, Jonny reflects on the last stage of the seasons training.

It’s been a pretty intense winter season for me, and March and April of this year have been the real clinch months of preparation for the South Pole. The good news is, the entire winter training block has been completed successfully, with minimal adjustment needed prior to heading down to Antarctica this coming November. The best news is that I’ve finished the season feeling healthy and injury-free, so now the next six months will be focused around rebuilding myself physically prior to November’s departure to South America, and preparing as best as I can for the big one!

March started with me finishing a 10-day solo expedition in the East of Sweden, being used primarily to make sure that everything was solid and set in preparation for 20 solo days in the Swedish mountains in the West of the country. 10 days of decent movement meant that, despite some adverse conditions (it snowed solidly for the first four days, meaning that all my kit was wet for the first week), I was covering ground at expedition pace, and created a very strong baseline to give confidence for Antarctica. The nutrition plan went well, requiring very little adjustment, and things were looking good for 20 days in the mountains.

After a bit of time back in the UK to mentally gather myself, we headed West to Borgafjall, the start of one of Sweden’s winter trails, the Lapplandsleden. The original plan was to cover the entirety of the Lappslandsleden from South to North and then back again, a distance of 380km in 20 days, however from the start this began to look problematic. Snow conditions meant that on the second day, I covered 1km in two hours, before sticky snow under my pulk caused so much resistance that both of the metal rings attaching my harness to my pulk snapped clean off, and the decision was made to stop and cut my losses for the day – when the weather is such that your equipment is breaking, discretion is the better part of valour!

Making some impromptu repairs in my tent, the next few days were seriously hard yards, with day four of the expedition probably being my hardest day on snow to date – hauling 80kg of kit uphill in mountainous terrain was arduous and slow, however a bit of persistence and just taking things one day at a time, one step at a time meant that by the end of day five, I had hit my first significant waypoint – a small, isolated hut called Slipsikstugan in the middle of a mountain plateau. Despite the fact I wasn’t going into the hut, seeing such a visceral landmark was seriously good for morale.

At this stage, completing the whole of the Lapplandsleden within the allotted time was not going to happen, with the weather and snow conditions conspiring against me, but in reality, this was no bad thing. The plateau around Klimpfjall, the nearest village, was perfect training terrain, being pretty much the closest thing to Antarctica that you’ll get without actually going down there. The decision was made to remain on the plateau and really spend time getting to grips with all of the difficulties and dangers of a South Pole solo. So began a long 10 days of whiteouts, using only a compass to navigate, winds blowing up to 70km/h and soft snow that made the moving tough and the pulk feel like it had lead weights in it.


At the start of day 15, I began to move back towards my pickup point in Borgafjall, and despite a lighter pulk than when I started (I was eating 1.4kg of freeze-dried food per day, despite continuing to lose weight at an anticipated rate), movement back over the mountains was hard, but steady. A couple more harness issues and on-the-fly repairs tested my ability to adapt on the move, but after 20 days spent alone in the wilds, and a bit of standing around in the carpark at the end doing some radio interviews over the satellite phone, the 20-day solo expedition was finished.

Whilst this long solo really did epitomise the military adage of ‘train hard, fight easy’, this is no bad thing – the snow conditions in Antarctica should be significantly easier due to climatic differences, and I’ve got a significant period of time now to put body weight back on, and get fitter and stronger before heading down. Whilst the South Pole is still a seriously intimidating prospect, I at least now have the advantage when I go down that I know that I have done everything I can to make sure that I’m well prepared and well drilled for what lies ahead.

It’s nice to be back in the UK now, actually interacting with other human beings, and generally chilling out for a week before the summer training block starts in earnest. A massive thank you to everyone at SRG for their continued support, and hopefully, if all goes well, the next time I’m back on snow will be culminating in reaching the South Pole – which despite being several months away, now seems increasingly imminent!

Jonny’s journey has been nothing short of inspirational and we are extremely proud to be one of his key sponsors. He will be keeping us all up to date with his training and preparation in the lead up to his expedition in November. We’ll hear from Jonny again next month to see how his summer training block is going. In the meantime, we wish him the best of luck and can’t wait for the next update.

You can also connect with Jonny on LinkedIn to stay up to date with his training and preparation: