Fall Down 4 - Get Up 5

Written by Jonathan Kattenberg on February 17, 2022
Est. Reading: 6 minutes

Accepting the Setbacks

So it’s 7th February and my first day back at work. I’m 7 weeks too early given my decision to stop my expedition due to injury.

It’s been a challenging few days to say the least, with acceptance of an unsuccessful attempt to complete my 2nd 1,000 mile unsupported adventure within a 12 month period now putting my vision back 12 months. 

This is the 4th time in the last 5 years I’ve fallen and not achieved the goal. But hang on a minute, was there an actual defining aspect where I had a win from this experience?

A big part of me wants to get on my bike and go cycle another 1,000 miles across and around the UK, but the reality, I need 7-10 days for my toe and finger tops to heal before I go out and smash another 1,000 miles. I still have 2 months to achieve another 1,000 miles but need to ensure I allow some time for recover. I have very limited feelings in the ends of my fingers due to frostnip and a not-so-great looking middle toe of my left foot. That said, everything is fine and ready to go!

But I pause, I ask myself - What would I achieve if I went and did 1,000 miles on my mountain bike? 

Personally, I don’t think it would be an achievement as I can do 1,000 miles on a bike all day long. I continue my pause for a moment and reflect. 

I realise I wouldn’t be gaining anything by grabbing my mountain bike and going off to cycle 1,000 miles, and it would be a tick exercise. That is not what I’m about!

It’s been a bitter pill to swallow. My pride, risk of reputation, financial outlay, expenses, time from working with clients and much more. All of which I have to overcome and focus moving forward with my learnings from this experience. 

My South Pole world record is still on track!

A big part of me is filled with huge disappointment and something that has yet to process fully within my mind.

All the training, planning and preparation suddenly came to a holt on day 2 when I had conversations with the medical specialist on my options to continue my adventure. I honestly thought it would be a conversation indicating that it would be ok to continue. How wrong I was.

It’s not how hard you fall, but how hard you are willing to get back up fight for your vision, goals and aspirations. You fall down, you get back up, and try again. Fall down twice, get back up again, fall down 3 times, get up 4. Fall down 4 times, get up 5. 

Guess this is where I’m at, it’s the 5th time I've gotten up, brushed the dust off my shoulders and continued my pursuit towards my goals. 

For me, It’s only when you quit following your goals, dreams or aspirations, that failure presents itself.

The Experience

Day 1 turned out to be one of the toughest days on any adventure I had experienced. The moment I was dropped off, I was faced with challenges. Challenges I did not expect to occur given the intensive preparations, especially with my equipment.

It took over an hour to get the pulk set up given one of the securing pins had managed to break into the pulk poles and I had to start making repairs. All of which in sub zero conditions didn’t make for a great start with my fingers and toes.

That said I remained focused on my goal.

For the first 4 hours, things just got from bad to worse. Cold weather management with my snowshoes meant I had to add extra socks, try and warm the toes on my left foot. Bearing in mind I have never had problems with keeping my feet and toes warm, but for some reason this time my toes got very cold and numb all of a sudden. 

By around hour 7 on day one I was ready for rest as I made it to Joatka Lodge.

I needed to be indoors and not in a tent. My right hand finger tips were suffering yet my toes were toasty and warm having worked on them and changed footwear.

As I warmed my fingers up, I knew I had to wait and see in the morning how my fingers were. I checked my toes and they looked great which was a relief, but I had concerns over the level of frostnip on my finger tips.

The following morning having slept with wool mittens on my hands, my fingertips didn’t feel right. I felt it wise to call back to Alta to see a Doctor and get advice before continuing on my adventure.

This meant checking into a hotel for one night as they couldn’t guarantee what time they would see me.

The Showering Moment!

Still in cold shower mode, I started my shower under cold water and then turned on the warmth. 

The lovely warm shower was great until I got out and dried myself off noticing an unforgiving image on my middle toe on my left foot.

There was no doubt, I had frostbite just on the tip of my toe going under the toe nail. I got dressed and went straight to the doctors. After a short wait, I was seen by a lovely caring Doctor. 

Good news Jonathan she said, there is circulation on the toes but the injury needs observing and the frostnip on your right hand fingers will ease off over time. That said, you need to be cautious until everything heals. Any further exposure at this stage could lead to serious damage.

The Realisation

It was at this point I made the call. I couldn’t feel any temperature difference on the tips of my right-hand fingers. This is a major concern. Purely because if I can’t feel the cold on my fingers, if I go back out on my expedition, I could lose some or all of my fingers and risk suffering a major issue, furthermore the frostbite injury on my toe could get a lot worse.

My ego and pride initial said just get on with it. My heart said hang-on Jon, Norway will still be here next year, but your toes and fingers may not. Calculate the risk. 

It was a simple decision to make. Norway will still be there next year!

Safety first and live to fight another day. No question about it or negotiations needed with my ego. It was simple and quick, postpone my adventure until next year. Afterall, I do control my bear!

It could have been very easy to be egotistical and push on. But really! What would I be proving, that I can destroy my body at any costs just for one of the many adventures I have planned. 

No. I’m in full control of my bear, and sometimes, we have to take a step back to go forward.

So I chose to take a positive step, rest, recover and regroup, to the go back another time for a successful outcome. 

What I know, is that I can influence my direction going forward and whilst I didn’t achieve my desired outcome at this moment in time, I have to ask the question if it is the universe having another plan for me to which I have chosen to accept this adjustment.


Sometimes in life things don’t always work out as we hope they will do, but it doesn’t mean we bury our heads into the sand and take our bat and ball home. No, I believe in the approach where I embrace my learnings and grow from them. 

Parts of my equipment are being upgraded and my training is back on track for 2023 onwards.

Since writing this blog, I’ve spoken and met with my Doctors here in the UK. Everything is going to be OK. The frostbite has became localised and both toes and fingers are healing well. 

Could the injuries have been avoided? Mostly yes which I take ownership of. Could I have prevented the equipment failure at the beginning. No, I have stripped and cleaned the equipment maticulously.

That said, things don’t always go to plan in life, but it’s the actions and decisions I made during and afterwards that I embrace and take with me going forward.

For now, I will be focusing on my private client work, supporting clients achieve a solid mindset that can take on anything they desire both in the office and outdoors.

Roll on 2023 and beyond for my next set of adventures...

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