Kyle O'Donoghue

by John Huston

Today we interview Kyle O’Donoghue, our esteemed team video, what do you call yourself , film maker whose a super nice guy, very easy to get along with. He’s an eager learner and this is his first polar trip, so he’s the new guy on the scene. We’ve got a bunch of questions for him.

John (J): Are you ready, Kyle?
Kyle (K): Ready.
J: How ready are you?
K: Pretty ready.
J: OK, you better be.

J: Question #1 – how’s it been going since we left Eureka yesterday morning?
K: Since Eureka, it’s been going really well. Our sleds were really heavy coming out of Eureka, so we were worried we were going be doing low mileage, but dogs have been awesome, ski conditions have been great, and we’ve been making good miles.
J: I concur.

J: Question #2 – What happened when you were 18 years old?
K: I believe that is what they call a leading question, but the answer you’re looking for John is when I was 18 that was the first time I was really in snow. There wasn’t a lot of snow growing up in South Africa.
J: Kyle grew up in South Africa. Apparently they judge interviewer’s questions there as well.

J: Number 3 – When did you first learn how to ski?
K: I first learned how to ski starting in December 2011, so about 18 to 20 months ago.
J: That’s not too long ago. Where did you learn how to ski?
K: I learned how to ski in Norway.
J: Is that where you live?
K: That is where I currently live, yeah.
J: OK, Toby lives in Norway, too.

J: Describe your progression with the skiing and kind of all this polar stuff since I met you in Finse during our training expedition last April.
K: Yes, Finse was a pretty steep learning curve, first time pulling sleds and I’d only been on skis for a couple of months at that stage. Since then I’ve had the team’s crazy training regime which has involved pulling tires and spending lots of time on skis. So yeah, I’d say it’s a pretty good progression. I’ve only fallen about 7 or 8 times this trip so far.
J: So Kyle’s been doing a really good job skiing out here, very impressive.

J: What is your typical routine upon arriving in camp each evening?
K: So when we arrive in camp, Hugh and John stake out the dogs. Toby is our water boy, he gets the water, and John and I put up tents.
J: And we do a very good job at each one of those routines.

John and Elle take a break

J: Kyle, what do you miss most about home?
K: I miss my friends and family and I miss my girlfriend Marthe.
J: That’s so sweet.

J: OK, Kyle, you had a bit of a shocking start to this trip. What happened and what has changed since then?
K: I think the Arctic kicked me in the rump when we got off the plane. I got frostbite on my nose and on my cheek within about a minute and a half of getting off the plane. Since then I’ve learned how important systems are and looking after yourself before anything else, and it’s getting much easier now that it’s getting warmer. And yeah, it’s been a steep learning curve.
J: But he’s done a really good job at it, and just so you know, Kyle’s face looks very good. We see it all the time and the frostbite is very, very minor.

J: OK, next question – Who has the biggest beard on the team?
K: That would undoubtedly be the Dale-Harris/Sverdrup attempt, which is looking very good at this stage.
J: Who has the smallest beard on the team?
K: That would be me. It’s called the weasel.
J: But you’re trying.

J: You have been skijoring with Axel in the back of the team for the last several days. Tell me a little bit about Axel.
K: Axel’s amazing. I think he’s the strongest dog on the team. He pulls like a maniac all day. I’m at the back and he wants to be at the front and sometimes I can barely even stop him with 3 sleds behind me, so he’s awesome.

J: Who is the biggest eater on the trip?
K: That would be Hugh.

J: Who has the cleanest coffee mug on the trip and who has the dirtiest and why?
K: John has the cleanest and I’m pretty sure I have the dirtiest because I still haven’t washed it and it’s Day 30, 31, 32.
J: What does that look like?
K: It looks like a brown ring of coffee around the top of my mug, but it’s pretty good. It filters all the little bits out of my coffee in the morning that I don’t want.
J: Oh, very clever. That brown ring, just so you know at home, is accentuated by the whiteness of the rest of the coffee cup.

J: OK, last question, hard question – What is one thing that you found harder than you thought it would be about being on this expedition? And what is one thing that is easier than you thought it would be?
K: I think I found the filming a lot harder even though I thought I prepared really well and I had some experience filming in the cold; it’s been much harder than I anticipated. And something I found easier, I think is physically because our dogs are so awesome. I think the actual walking and pulling has been easier.
J: Well, thank you very much, Kyle.

Soon we’ll have an interview with Toby coming up in the next few weeks. Thanks everybody.

Daily Expedition Data
Date: 5/1/13, Day 32
Location: 80°17'N, 87°31'W
Traveled: 7 hours, 12.8 miles
Temperatures: 21°F am, 23°F pm