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LIFESAVER provides water for Rosie Stancer's journey across the 'unreturnable' sea of death

Wesley Clarke-Sullivan - Wednesday, October 05, 2016

LIFESAVER provides water for Rosie Stancer’s journey across the ‘unreturnable’ sea of death

In 2017 explorer Rosie Stancer will aim to become the first female to led an expedition across the entire 800 mile length of the Taklamakan Desert in China. Nicknamed the Sea of Death Taklamakan literally translates to ‘unreturnable’. The immense physical challenge is made next to impossible by the unforgiving conditions. Hot days, bitterly cold nights and sand dunes the size of skyscrapers all stand in the way, but, the greatest challenge of all is a lack of water.

In order to make this epic feat possible LIFESAVER are proud to sponsor the expedition and will be providing our world-renowned water filtration equipment.  This partnership will provide Rosie, her expedition team and her caravan of camels with a portable water filtration system that will enable Rosie to instantly filter contaminated water into clean drinking water for the expected 60 day duration. 

Clean water is essential for Rosie and her camels (who will be transporting her essential expedition equipment). It will be absolutely crucial that Rosie maintains physical and mental performance throughout; LIFESAVER technology will allow her to dig into the desert to collect water and filter it instantly.

The capability of this technology is critical within expedition environments where dependency on large volumes of clean water is high, and in this expedition, that means. Unlike the polar environments that she is used to, known sources of plentiful clean water will be in question. This demands that any water source that can be dug within the desert can be collected and filtered instantly without wait times or the need for chemicals.

LIFESAVER is providing the LIFESAVER bottle, jerrycan and cube to the Taklamakan 2017 expedition. Each LIFESAVER jerrycan will filter up to 20,000 litres / 5,283 US gallons of water and will store 18.5 litres / 4.88 US gallons at one time. The connection apertures on the LIFESAVER jerrycan will enable them to be strapped to vehicles and camels alike.

In June of 2016, we were lucky enough to grab some time with Rosie herself to pick her brains on this exped! 

  • What do you foresee being the hardest part of this expedition? 

Logistics logistics logistics.  You could sink in bottomless quick sand of them. There is a fathomless pile of requirements to be met from the Chinese end,  as well getting on top of all the complexities of preparation & planning for UK arm of the expedition.  And your life evolves around sourcing the financial backing. My friends must loathe bumping into me. This unglamorous pre-expedition stage is a foul grind (unless you are mad about logistics) but a necessary part of any epic  journey, which, as ever, begins long before that first euphoric step onto the hot sand.

  • What is your proudest expedition moment?

  • Surprisingly, not ‘arriving’ – one’s mind is filled and body fuelled by the prospect of a triumphant arrival at a Pole – even if a lonely one up on the North. But its never quite as one has yearned for and fantasized after. The proudest, most precious moments are not loud and glorious but significant. I cherish perhaps above all the homecoming from the Arctic after 3 months on the ice, jumping out of the car to sit with my then 6 year old son who said that he was ‘so proud of me, his mummy, as being the woman further ever north in the world’. If my much-loved son had grasped the enormity of the challenge I had just returned from then perhaps many other children around the world had likewise and who knows what seeds this had sown? It makes me proud to think I have forged a legacy for future generations to live their own lives to their fullest.
  • Why have you chosen the Taklamakan desert specifically?

  • It's important for anyone who calls themselves an ‘explorer’ to dare to diversify – out of the familiar and into the fearsome unknown to make discoveries afresh. The challenge lies in taking on fresh obstacles, new hazards, honing different skills. Ultimately, for me,  its being the new girl yet again and reuniting with perhaps the only familiar element – my old travelling companion, fear. So the fearsome Taklamakan desert is my ‘Eastern Pole’. I have zero’d in on this particular desert as it is a forgotten one, desolate desert, few react with familiarity to the name. Yet were you to look the Taklamakan up on an Atlas, you will astounded by the sheer size of this desert and wonder how you ever managed to overlook it. Whilst I concede that my normal commutes of Antarctica and the Arctic are both desert environments, taking on the vast Taklamakan Desert in Western China is a momentous shift from ice to sand. Few people have dared to cross the length of this desert known as ”the desert you go into and don’t come out"….This threw down the gauntlet to me, an irresistible challenge. Unlike so many of the earlier venturers, I have every intention of coming out the far side with my team - and having made discoveries anew, from whatever the sands might reveal in between her giant dunes, to what we may discover about our own potential. I think the physiological research will yield fascinating results with the desert’s notoriously swinging temperatures from the searing day time 30+ c to the plummeting night temperatures in the minus 20c. Whose to say what the desert might teach us in terms of water diving, extraction and purification? We will all be on a very steep learning curve but that’s what pioneering is all about.

  • What features of Lifesaver technology are going to be the most useful to you during this expedition? How is the technology going to help you complete this journey? 

  • WATER is, clearly, a vital thread to survival on this desert expedition. Less obviously, water has always been a theme to each expedition as it is an equally valuable commodity in those other ends of the earth, the polar regions where the body dehydrates with the extreme temperatures. In the Taklamakan, water sources will have to be located using desert knowledge and in part, divined.  Digging the requisite 6 or 7 foot deep hole after a long hot day climbing 1500 feet dunes, will be thirsty work.  The water even then might be brackish – much to the camels’ delight, but not for the two-legged team members who search for non-brackish water.  The desert team will most probably be reliant on the water supplies we take with us, purified using the Lifesaver filters, a system simple enough for a sluggish tired and overheated mind to deal with. We anticipate the few river beds will be long dry but should we find a trickle of water we’ll be on it with our LifeSaver filter. The implications of drinking contaminated water mid-crossing are dire, possibly fatal.  The Lifesaver purification system, its design, weight and manageability,is, quite simply, a desert travellers dream. Lifesaver products are very much a ‘mission critical’ piece of equipment for the Expedition Support Team. They, after all,  will be having every bit as tougher time skirting the desert to the south, ready to make intrepid expeditions into the interior to provide fresh water supplies should non be found – purified of course using the Lifesaver and transported in the special Lifesaver jerry cans whose design and ergo dynamics work neatly with the resupply vehicles.

  • Why is it important to explore

  • Exploration is only important when there is a legacy born of any exploratory expedition taken on. In all its different forms, exploration is and always has been how civilisation lurches forward.

  • So often, I am asked prior to a rather rigorous expedition  - “WHY?”.  As likely as not, before setting off, I have no idea - other than the selfish motivation of loving adventure. The greatest discoveries are often made during the course of an expedition and are not what one might have set out hoping to realise.  You might climb a tall apple tree right to the top to bring back the best apple in the world and find a pineapple up there! And whose to say what we shall discover and come back with to share with anyone with an appetite for learning? One certainty I know now.  We will spend 2 months in more or less perpetual thirst and return with a message as clear as water – that life is not possible without it, and that every man, woman and child in the world should have access to or means to have clean water.


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