Have you ever wanted to test your mettle against the harshest conditions? For the Turner twins such tests of endurance are par for the course. Last year we were happy to support Ross and Hugo Turner in their expedition to Greenland in aid of Spinal Research. The trip also formed a part of a larger exploration into the differences in performance using old exploring kit and newer modern kit. Read our interview with Ross on the mental challenges of such an expedition and just why the Sunspel Aran can’t be beaten for warmth.
Congratulations on your expedition.How does it feel to be back home?
It feels very weird to be back after such a long time planning and training. For the last year we have worked really hard and all for two weeks! It feels like we haven’t really done it as it was unfortunately so short. We are all back safe and well so that feels good.
Talk us through the experience, what were the immediate challenges of navigating in such extreme conditions?
Navigating through the glacier was the hardest. With large crevasses all over the place and for mile upon mile we just headed up hill and tried to stay on top on the ice as much as possible. Once we cleared the Russel Glacier it was fairly simple. We took a bearing in the morning on the compass and just walked to that. Occasionally we would have a dark patch of ice in front of us to aim for. Apart from that the clouds helped and surprisingly old tracks from the expedition in front of us!
How did you find yourself taking up the Sir Earnest Shackleton challenge?
I think the challenge using the old kit was all mental. Back when Shackleton used this type of kit it was the best in the world. They knew they were in the best kit and that there was nothing else they could do to prepare. They didn’t worry about having 2nd class kit. My problem was using this kit knowing that I wasn’t wearing the best! I had to change my mental attitude to what I could control. My limitations were far smaller and that was all I worried about. Not how my brothers’ kit was working, but how I could make the most of what I had.
How did your different styles of clothing affect your performance and dynamic during the expedition?
In summary the old kit, food and sled worked better than the modern kit, food and sled. This was incredibly insightful as modern kit and food is surely better than old kit- it wasn’t. We made the branding of our expedition around Questioning life and in this case Question Greenland- Old v’s new. We turned peoples thoughts and ideas of performance on its head.
The dynamic was the same as any expedition we have been on. If one of us had a problem we would help and overcome or adapt to whatever that problem was. We treated each other like any other person on a dangerous trip.
Was there a particular piece of Sunspel clothing you found yourself reaching for throughout the trip?
I wore my Sunspel base layers and button neck jumper everyday. The one piece of kit that I was astounded with was the Aran jumper. It worked far better than the modern jacket for a number of reasons. The first being that it allowed air through its’ big chunky knit and this meant that my sweat could escape but having the button neck jumper under that, stopped my warmth being drawn away. By mid morning I was usually covered in frost from this happening but all I did was to wipe myself off and I was good to go. It also stopped sweat freezing inside the jumper. The modern jacket kept more sweat inside the jacket and therefore froze and was less affective at keeping the others warm. Amazing jumper and one I will continue to use in cold weather.
What were the noticeable benefits of the old expedition wear to the modern equipment?
The woolen gloves were far better as it combined fingerless gloves with a mitt. My tweed trousers were far better as they didn’t let the wind through as much. The wooden sled for every single reason we could think of was better! My leather boots gave me no problems while the modern boots blistered the others up quite well. The wooden ski’s were better as they were a little wider and balance was easier.The old food sustained my glucose level at a manageable level. The new food spiked up and down with glucose release meaning Hugo was very tired at the end of each day. OLD was better.
You’ve had considerable involvement with spinal research, Please tell us your story, and what advancements the charity is making.
Hugo broke his neck when he was 17 down in Cornwall and since then we both appreciate the value of being able to do things in life. Spinal research help us with advice and support that made all the difference in the very hard time the ensued after the accident. While at university we decided to row across the Atlantic to help raise much needed funds and to give something back for all they did for us and for what they are doing to help others less fortunate than Hugo. The charity is about to start clinical trials and this is what costs a lot of money. People said 30 years ago that paralysis could never be reversed. They are about to prove that statement wrong which is incredibly exciting and something that Hugo and myself want to be part of. We will continue to raise money and represent Spinal research.
And lastly what’s on the horizon for the Turner twins?
I can’t say too much at the moment but we are planning lots of little trips around the world which are really exciting and have unique dynamics to expeditions.