By Jean Excell August 31, 2019
Customer Jean Excell recently visited Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, for an intense work trip. Having made sure to bring her KLOS Travel Guitar along, Jean even got to play at the South Pole! What follows next is her account of the journey.
I received a call just before Christmas about proposing on a project in Antarctica at McMurdo Station to modernize the entire station by building new Core Facilities including a new Field Science Center, Lodging, Emergency Operations, Vehicle Operations Center, Fire Station and Recreation Center. The original station was built in 1956 by the Navy, and is in desperate need of upgrades. We only had a few weeks to get our proposal in and go through oral interviews. Never in a million years did I think this would all come together, but a few days before Christmas we received a call that we’d won the contract, including a site visit in mid-February. And by the way, they wanted me to also go visit South Pole Station to see how things were built in an even harsher environment!
Whenever I travel for work, I always bring a guitar with me for something to do in the evenings after a long day. However, in this case, the travel guitar I’m accustomed to traveling with is all solid wood.
I knew that would never hold up to the harsh environment of below-freezing temperatures and zero percent humidity.
Enter in the quest to find a new travel guitar that could stand up to the conditions of 90 degrees South! After watching an in-depth review of the KLOS Carbon Fiber Travel guitar by my friend, Tony Polecastro, the decision was easy and I had one on order in no time. I had high expectations based on Tony’s review, and after the guitar arrived I put it to the test of taking it apart and back together several times and was blown away by the tone and playability of such a small instrument. It still felt like a regular guitar because of the almost full-size scale length, but I could fit it in my carry-on expandable backpack with no issues.
My travel took me via commercial aircraft from Denver to LA to Auckland, NZ to Christchurch NZ. After finally making it to Christchurch we boarded a C-17 down to “The Ice” at McMurdo. Up until this point I had hand-carried my KLOS, but with added cold-weather gear now in tow, I had to put my KLOS in a checked bag. It survived the flight on the C-17 jammed in with other cargo into McMurdo with no issues. When I made it to my dorm room, I put it back together and tuned it up with no issues!
The next day was my quick trip up to the South Pole Station. Again, I had to check it in a carry-on, this time on an LC-130.
On arriving at Pole, it was -32.2 degrees, and -62.1 with windchill.
When I got squared away in my quarters I again assembled my KLOS with no issues. The Pole Station has its own band room and I was able to get together with a few other people and play some songs together. They were all amazed at the sound, and even more amazed when I plugged it into a Fender amp!
I made it back “up” to McMurdo (everything from the South Pole is up!) and was very happy to have my travel companion with me for the next two weeks. I was supposed to play in an Open Mic the last night I was there, but they decided to fly us out a day early because of impending winter weather that was setting it.
All in all, I can’t say enough good things about my new KLOS, and I’m sure it will continue to travel with me for years to come and on many more adventures!!
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