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Burbank resident trained on Chandler Bikeway before trekking to the South Pole

Burbank resident trained on Chandler Bikeway before trekking to the South Pole
Burbank resident Gregory Orland traveled to the South Pole this past December. Orland, 63, has also hiked the Himalayas, Mount Everest and Mount Khuiten. (Courtesy of Gregory Orland)

There are some people who casually hike during the weekends, maybe up Stough or La Tuna canyons.

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Then there are folks like Burbank resident Gregory Orland, who in December joined an expedition to the South Pole.

The 63-year-old has always been one to enjoy a hike but over the years has pushed himself to go on bigger and more interesting trips.

So far, Orland has hiked the Himalayas five times, climbed Mount Everest twice, nearly reached the summit of Mount Khuiten in Mongolia and has snow-shoed to the North Pole.

“I like to go to places where people don’t ordinarily go,” Orland said.

In 2017, he decided to go on an expedition to the South Pole and started his training, which involved creating an 83-pound rig made with used car tires to simulate his equipment and sled when he would be in Antarctica.

Orland said he would strap the rig behind him and drag the ballast along the Chandler Bike Path or up Stough Canyon for several miles.

“Boy, did I trash those tires, and I even wore out a set,” he said “There’s a lot of friction on those tires when you’re dragging sidewalls against concrete.”

After training for about a year and a half, Orland flew to Punta Arenas, Chile, in December before flying to Union Glacier in Antarctica, which is about 400 miles inland from the ocean.

Orland said traversing the South Pole was much different from the North Pole.

He said the terrain at the North Pole is covered with pressure ridges, jagged hills of ice several feet tall created by ice sheets crashing into one another.

In contrast, he described the South Pole to be a monotonous, flat land mass covered in snow. On most days, his trip involved walking through white-out conditions, meaning he could only see a few hundred meters in front of him.

There were also strong katabatic winds that howled throughout the day and reached up to 50 mph.

When the conditions did clear, Orland said everything looked the same no matter where he looked, adding that his group had to rely on compass bearings to reach the South Pole.

After several days and traveling 70 miles, he and the group he traveled with reached the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and made it to the South Pole.

“The South Pole is much colder than the Arctic,” Orland said. “And then there’s the elevation. The South Pole is at 9,301 feet, but because of the barometric pressure, it feels like you’re breathing at 11,000 feet.”

Orland safely made his trip back to Union Glacier and wrapped up his trip to Antarctica on Dec. 26.

With all of the miles of hiking and climbing under his belt, Orland said he does not have another trip planned anytime soon.

“It’s been a lot of fun to go places and do things that very few people have had the opportunity to do,” Orland said.

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