It’s cold outside. There’s no doubt about that. Many parts of Canada have been experiencing temperatures under -20 degrees in the last few weeks. That’s cold enough to watch boiling water evaporate in mid-air. That’s why, to help you warm up this winter, I thought I’d share a heartwarming story about bacon. It’s the story of three Canadian explorers who trekked across Antarctica. They not only completed their trek, but they did it in record time. Who or what do we have to thank for this amazing achievement? It could only be that amazing and wonderful food: bacon.

Bacon South Pole

Bacon Conquers Antarctica

Slightly over two years ago – January 9, 2009 – Ray Zahab and his teammates Kevin Vallely and Richard Weber, finished a trek across the continent. While Vallely and Weber are both adventurers in their own right, Zahab has been notorious for his feats for years. In 2007, he ran across the Sahara in a documentary called, appropriately enough, “Running the Sahara.” That was a 4,300 km trek across endless sand dunes. This one was considerably shorter: it is only 700 km from Hercules Inlet, a base on the Ronne ice shelf, to the South Pole. But the conditions were arguably much tougher.

Antarctica is not a happy place. The adventurers had to tough it out while trudging forward for miles in whiteouts conditions. Zahab described it like having a cloud duct-taped around your face. It was also, of course, bone-chillingly cold. The team dealt with many ailments ranging from altitude sickness (the centre of Antartica is actually much higher than the shores) to blisters to sheer exhaustion. They huddled in tiny tents to sleep. They pretty much never took off their clothes for a month. When they were done, they were tired, sore and smelly.

But it was worth it. They did their trek in record time: it took a very short thirty-three days to get to the South Pole. That’s pretty amazing. But what must have been even more galling for the guy they beat – an American named Todd Carmichael – he had only set the previous record a month ago and they broke the record by six whole days.

Antarctica Trek Fuel

Where am I going with this? Well, to make such a long trek essentially on foot (Zahab walked or used snowshoes, but the other two skied) all of the adventurers had to keep their energy levels up. This meant eating a lot of energy rich foods, including sticks of butter, pieces of cheese, and deep fried bacon. The energy from the bacon helped them pull 170 pound sleds across the Antarctica. That’s the power of bacon for you!

And what, you ask, is deep-fried bacon? Deep-fried bacon is exactly what it sounds like: bacon that has been dipped into batter and then fried, usually in a deep-fryer. Ryan here shows us an example of deep-fried bacon. He got this particular sample from Chili’s. I’m guessing it’s not exactly the same as the Antarctica version – there are probably very few Chili’s on the coldest continent – but you get the idea.

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Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? I can see what drove the adventurers so hard! When you have some deep-fried bacon as your reward, you know you’ll push yourself a little harder to reach the next Antarctic ridge.

Today, let’s remember our brave Canadian explorers. And when we think we can’t make it through another Canadian snowstorm, maybe we should reach for another slice of bacon. It’s what Zahab and his friends did – and look where it got them!