- The Turner Twins are the world’s first adventurers aiming to reach the many “Poles of Inaccessibility.”
- They’ve rowed the Atlantic, climbed Europe’s highest peak in Ernest Shackleton-era kit, and cycled thousands of kilometers to the center point of South America.
- INSIDER spoke to one half of twins, Hugo, to find out the essentials they bring with them on every trip and how they prepare for adventures requiring extreme endurance.
- The twins’ many items of choice included tampons and super glue, but never Band-Aids.
- Hugo told us that a lot of training is simply “getting fat” as they can lose around half a kilo per day on their expeditions.
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Ross and Hugo Turner don’t like doing things the easy way.
While some may have said climbing Europe’s highest peak (Mt Elbrus, Russia, 18,500 feet) was enough, the pair decided to do so with kit used by English adventurer George Mallory 100 years ago.
And, while trekking across the polar ice cap of Greenland may seem like challenge in and of itself, they decided to put replica kit from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 expedition to the test while doing it — leather boots included.
Ross and Hugo, or “The Turner Twins,” are the world’s first adventurers whose expeditions combine feats of endurance with medical research and charitable causes.
Most recently, the twins have turned their attention to the “Poles of Inaccessibility”— the hardest places to get to on every continent defined by being the center point of the landmass or the furthest point away from the coastline.
So far they’ve reached three — Australia, South America, and North America — using paramotors and bicycles.
INSIDER spoke to one-half of the identical twin travelers, Hugo, about how the brothers prepare for their adventures and the things they never leave the tent without.
‘The most functional things aren’t always the most fashionable’
The Turner Twins are firm believers in the notion that just because something is new, that doesn’t make it better.
When the pair traveled to Greenland, Ross kept things authentic right down to Shackleton’s diet, while Hugo had the latest in modern outdoor clothing and high-calorie army rations to eat.
“All that [Shackleton’s] diet consisted of was fat and lard, meat, vegetables, and oats,” Hugo said.
“It just didn’t have any of the sugar that a lot of these expedition foods have.”
In collaboration with scientists at Kings College London, the twins monitored their blood sugar levels throughout the trip, and found that Ross’ was much more stable than Hugo’s.
While Hugo was able to consume his calories much more efficiently — he says “boil in the bag” ration packs contain about 800 calories per portion — his blood sugar spiked and dived as he consumed candy, chocolates, and isotonics.
“You just find the going a lot tougher [when your blood sugar is low],” he said. “Everything’s a lot harder to process and normal tasks become tricky.”
In future, Hugo said he’d take a hybrid of the traditional and modern diets: “I’d probably take a lot more oat and fat-based foods rather than chocolates and sugar.
“Flapjacks, oatcakes. Try and keep the sugar down to a minimum.”
‘We always take a load of tampons with us’
While the twins have trekked through frigid conditions in Greenland and cycled in 50 degrees Celsius heat in California, there are some things they take with them regardless of the conditions.
“Never use plasters [Band-Aids], always take super glue,” Hugo told us. “Super glue’s so much better.
“Because you obviously sweat so much, generally speaking, whenever we go on a trip, and therefore plasters don’t really work.”
Hugo points out that super glue was actually used quite extensively in the Vietnam War for this exact reason. In the humidity of Southeast Asia, super glue was credited with saving many lives, according to The New York Times.
Tampons too, serve many purposes beyond their original intention.
“We always take a load of tampons with us,” Hugo said.
“Firstly because they’re good for webbing if you do actually get a really bad cut” — and, he says super glue will only get you so far.
Secondly, he says, he and his brother suffer badly from nosebleeds — “we’ve had our noses cauterized about four times each” — and a tampon up the nostril usually does the trick.
Finally, “they’re also really, really good for taking a spark from a fire stick to light a fire. They instantly go up.”
Tampons: More than meets the eye.
Other items that the twins always take with them include: A bottle of Johnnie Walker Black whisky (which they drink a dram of at the end of every expedition), a “good woolly pully” (that’s British for a wool sweater), a down jacket, zip ties (“they’ve saved pretty much every one of our projects from certain failure,”) a good book, and their trusty Breitling Emergency II watches, which have a built-in personal locator beacon (PLB) if they ever get into trouble.
‘We were losing about half a kilo a day’
You may have thought that training for mountain climbs and epic bike rides would require a lot of stamina training, but think again.
When the pair trained for their 42-day row across the Atlantic in 2012, they were spending two hours a day on a rowing machine for at least six months. In order to sustain their weight with all this exercise, the brothers were eating a lot — however, this meant that when it came to the row itself, their metabolisms were through the roof and the weight just fell off them.
“We were losing about half a kilo a day,” Hugo said.
Now, the boys focus on strength and conditioning, and maintaining a healthy body before a big expedition.
“You get fit on the job. It’s just a matter of attrition,” Hugo said.
Fortunately, the twins’ next adventure shouldn’t require too much physical exertion. The pair are heading to the center of Spain using electric motorcycles as part of a trip sponsored by British heritage brand Belstaff.
“The narrative of this expedition is to challenge people’s perceptions of what they think an electric vehicle is capable of,” Hugo told us.
“I think a lot of us look at electric vehicles and think they’re for the city-dweller, which is a great place for them to serve their purpose but we want to see what their capabilities are beyond the city.”