Following Colin O’Brady’s claim to have completed the first unsupported and unassisted crossing of Antarctica, the polar adventure world came together to point out the inaccuracies of the 33-year old American’s highly publicised and inaccurate claims. They then set about to develop a standard of definitions relating to polar travel.
So in the wake of the O’Brady saga, veteran polar guide Eric Philips, along with other senior members of the polar community, decided that standardization was overdue in the polar world. Over the past two years, they developed The Polar Expeditions Classification Scheme (PECS), which was launched earlier this week.
The aim of PECS is to harmonize the language of polar adventure. Using keywords and definitions, the classification system allows adventurers, media, and the public to accurately and equitably compare polar journeys.
Without such a unified classification system, we have seen polar adventurers squabble endlessly over details, such as what constitutes support (e.g. a food drop), assistance (e.g. kite skiing), or geographical issues, such as what defines crossing a frozen landmass like Antarctica. These details might not matter if your expedition is just for personal pleasure, but there are those who earn their money guiding, speaking, and writing about polar travel. Inaccurate claims unjustly steal credit from those who have accomplished truly amazing feats and deserve full recognition.