Antarctic Expedition: November 2016 – January 2017
Skiing to the South Pole is a life-changing experience. Forging a new route to the South Pole is a history making event. I will be the first Brit, since Shackleton, 100 years ago, to ski a new route to the South Pole.
After final preparations at Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica we fly by dedicated Twin Otter to our start point on the Antarctic contiguous coastline, where continent meets ocean. In reality there is no ocean to be seen as it lies 150m below an ice shelf. To the south lies a magnificent mountain range through which a glacier, never before traversed, carves a path towards the Antarctic plateau above. Flanking the glacier are virgin peaks and hanging glaciers that stand as silent witnesses to our trailblazing team as we journey up this colossal river of ice. There are no waypoints to follow, no anecdotes from previous teams, nothing to give us concrete knowledge of the route ahead. Navigating as modern pioneers we blend satellite imagery and topographic maps with what we see ahead of us.
At 2200m/7,200′ elevation we finally break through the mountain range and reach the plateau. Here we experience the inner heart of Antarctica, travelling in time-honoured sledding tradition across 330km/200 miles of barren icescape towards the South Pole at 2835m/9300 feet. Like the glacier below, no skis have traversed this segment of Antarctica; what we see before us is new to the human eye. Our days are filled with 24-hour daylight, pristine views and a stark silence only found in Antarctica.
Temperatures can reach as low as -35°C (–31°F) and winds make it feel colder still. During the expedition we ski for 8 to 10 hours a day, hauling sleds weighing 80 kg (180 lbs), in all types of weather over extremely challenging terrain. This is a very demanding expedition. We expect the ski component to take around 37 days, depending on route nuances, weather and snow conditions. As on all expeditions, success is a team effort.
After more than a month of skiing we finally reach the South Pole. Behind us we leave a ski trail that will disappear in the next storm but will be forever etched on the exploration map of Antarctica. This expedition will see us travel over 650km to the remotest place on earth.
The South Pole Expedition
Arrive Punta Arenas. Check-in to hotel.
Review itinerary, equipment and food.
Preparations for departure to Antarctica.
Briefing with ALE followed by refreshments.
Fly to Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica (weather dependent).
Stay at Union Glacier and finalise preparations, including sled packing and pulling, skiing, camp procedures, equipment tweaks.
Flight to start point.
Begin ski expedition – ascent of glacier and across the Antarctic plateau to the South Pole
Arrive South Pole and camp for one night.
Flight from South Pole to Union Glacier.
Flight to Punta Arenas.