Dylan Auguste is an adventurer really going places. Still only 29 years old he has already covered a lot of ground. A 3,000 km walk across Canada in the middle of winter, solo treks through Norwegian fjords and Icelandic glaciers, and a Toulouse to Bordeaux river odyssey in a kayak. Earlier this year, while the rest of us were indoors avoiding human contact, Dylan was escaping it by skiing cross-country, 105 km through Lapland with a pulka.
Dylan has a respectful relationship with time. The former paramedic knows only too well that good timing can often be the difference between life and death. His years as an emergency responder have also given him an appreciation of the fragility of life. The clock begins running down from the moment we are born, and Dylan is determined to squeeze as much as possible into his time.
Robert Scott, Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton were not amongst his childhood heroes. Dylan confesses that it was the adventures of Scrooge McDuck that inspired him to pursue his current career path. Upon reading about Donald Duck’s intrepid uncle driving a dog sled across the frozen Alaskan frontier, Dylan knew exactly what he wanted to do when he grew up.
This summer he will embark on an epic 40-day, coast-to-coast solo trek through the Pyrenees. The mountain range is some 270 miles (430 kilometres) long, and is impossible to cross in a straight line – the meandering ancient smugglers’ trails that Dylan plans to take will make the actual distance considerably longer.
He will tread in the historic footsteps of exiles, who were forced to flee over the mountains to escape persecution in Nazi-occupied France and of the republicans who crossed into France to evade Franco and his troops at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
The Pyrenees are 200 km away from rural Bordeaux where Dylan grew up, and traversing them is something he has been dreaming of for a long time. But this conquest will also serve another purpose – the final test before his greatest challenge yet – a solo 1,150 km expedition from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, pulling a 120kg pulka. Dylan anticipates this feat will take 55 days to complete and plans to attempt it in 2022.
The Frenchman is a far cry from the romantic notion of the polar explorer wrapped up in animal pelts and navigating by the stars. Like most explorers of his generation, Dylan takes advantage of whatever technology and modern materials are available. He enjoys listening to music as he walks and, when 3G signal permits, he remains active on social media. He believes it is important to recharge mentally as well as physically during such long periods of isolation, and reading, enjoying a movie or gaming during rest periods helps him do just that.
One piece of equipment that Dylan considers indispensable on an expedition is a good watch. It is obviously a vital tool for navigation, but its importance goes beyond a simple utility. Dylan describes the dynamic between him and his watch as being more ‘master and servant’. It tells him when to rest, when to speed up, when to slow down, when to eat, when to sleep. A solitary expeditionist does not have a manager alongside to help keep him on track - Dylan relies on his watch to fulfil this role.
On his trek through the Pyrenees, he will take the same watch as he wore to cross Lapland – an OW C-1000. Although he’ll be spending most of the time 1,000 metres above sea level rather than below it, the C-1000 dive watch is equally well suited to altitude. Its robust ETA 2824-2, housed in a 316L stainless steel case, is every bit as rugged as the granite landscape it is destined for. Dylan is confident the watch will perform well: “I wore a C-1000 skiing cross country through Lapland, the temperature was rarely above -30 and yet it kept working perfectly. I have no doubt it will be just fine in the comparative warmth of the Pyrenees.”
The original OW Precision Caribbean ref: 702 as worn to the North Pole by underwater photographer Roberto Dei.
As well as 40 days, Dylan will also be spending 40 nights in the mountains. Fortunately, the Super-LumiNova-covered indices and hands, designed for extra readability at great depths, show up just as well after dark at great heights.
Of course, Dylan is not the first adventurer to wear OW, nor will he be the first to wear an OW to one of the poles. In 1966 an Italian exploration team, led by award-winning underwater photographer Roberto Dei, wore OW ‘Precision Caribbean 1000s’ on an expedition to the Arctic. Not only was the OW C-1000’s predecessor the official expedition watch, it was the subject of a gruelling program of sub-zero underwater tests.
Dylan is eager to share his passion for the outdoors, and in between exploits, he trains budding adventurers from 7 to 77 years old and also instructs as a survival guide.
“I try to bring something back from each adventure I go on. A statement, photographs, stories, some sort of learning, even if it is just discovering something new about myself,” states the modern French language graduate.
But in an age where Google Earth makes it possible to circumnavigate the world in seconds, is there actually anywhere left to explore? Dylan points out that it is one thing to photograph the earth from a satellite and another to experience it first-hand – many parts of the world remain relatively uninvestigated. He believes the world needs explorers now just as much as ever: “The planet has changed dramatically over the past 50 years; explorers must now revisit places again with fresh perspectives and discover new things.”
Dylan hasn’t yet decided what will come after the Antarctic expedition. Wherever his adventures take him, he’ll have an O&W watch with him to keep a tight schedule.