Cycle Antarctica: Hank van Weelden Pole to Coast attempt (Interview)

Mountain Poles

I have learned from [previous Antarctic cyclists’] trips in regards to pulks, bikes and direction.

In the 2013-14 season, three adventurers completed cycle expeditions on Antarctica, each in their own style. This season Canadian cyclist Hank van Weelden combines his passion for cycling and a dream to go to Antarctica. He has decided to attempt it “the easy way”, cycling the 1130 km from the Geographic South Pole to Hercules Inlet. This way is downhill. The Pole is at 3000 meter, but it feels like 4000 due to the proximity to the Pole. The wind will be from behind most of the time. Hank still has to face the cold and the infamous sastrugi, in particular the notorious fields in 87 degrees. He will pull a sled behind his bicycle and will receive three resupplies along the way.

Hank lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife Denise. They are married for 27 years and have three kids, ages 24, 23, 20. Hank owns and runs a company that builds remote housing for forestry, mining and oil/gas industries. Here go more about his planned expedition.

Explorersweb/Pythom: Tell us how did it come that you have decided to cycle on Antarctica?

Hank: It has been a dream to go to Antartica since I was a young man. I have this silly love of wind and cold and that seems like a great place for it!! I had an experience on the north side of Mt Everest in 1988 where the winds blew me off my feet at around 25,000 and I loved it! I also have been a life long cyclist and as soon as FatBike technology advanced I started putting this dream together and finally decided GO march of 2015.

Why Pole to Coast? Why to Hercules Inlet?

Hank: As a cyclist if you can go downhill with the wind, why wouldn’t you!! I was advised early on that they don’t keep “records” for going away from the Pole. But in my mind I am riding in Antartica because I want to ride there, not for recognition or records. Also it would be a shorter trip this way. As for Hercules Inlet, it seems to be the standard route with the most information and support.

A future goal is to cross Antarctica coast to coast on bike and this way I have some experience with the last leg of that journey – but we have to see how this goes.

You have an interesting bike. Tell us about the design please?

Hank: I love challenging convention in bicycles. After talking to Eric Larsen and Daniel Burton, they all talked about the inability to ride through soft areas. Since there is only 1 inch wider tires on the market then theirs, I thought about going double, and talked to the boys at Carver Bikes (who have built 2 other bikes for me) and this design is the result of going double.

How did your preparation/ training look like? Where did you test your bicycle?

Hank: I had a chance to ship my bike and pulk with ALE to Chile in June and so I only got about 500 km of riding in on the bike and only 2 km with the pulk before they left. By the time the bike and pulk arrived, most of our snow had melted. But the cockpit of the bike is identical to another bike Carver built, so I have been training on that. Cycling 5 times a week 2-5 hour each and a minimum of 2 gym work-outs and daily yoga.

How much will you sled weigh? Will you get resupplies?

Hank: I have decided on 3 resupplies – Rough guess is 80kg on the pulk and the bike weighs 22 kg.

Have any other experienced polar skiers gave you advice you?

Hank: I became friends with Hannah McKeand and she came to my home last January for a week and helped me a lot. She is amazing! In addition Steve Jones at ALE and the whole ALE group have been very supported. I am very flexible, no drama, no press, no record races, self funded, and just want a great adventure, and it seems that people get into that energy.

What have you learned from the three people who had done cycle expeditions to the South Pole (each their own style)?

Hank: I think I have learned from their trips in regards to pulks, bikes and direction. I am going the “easy” way!!

Gear:

Bicycle: Carver Custom Double Fat

Sled: Acapulka Ice Express 235

Boots: Old School Surplus Bunny Boots

Tent: Hilleberg Nammtje3GT

Sleeping bag: Custom quilt/sleeping pad from Kluane Mountaineering and a North Face Inferno

Clothes: Mixture of Arteryx, Patagonia, Kluane Mountaineering, Peral Izumi with Lynx and Wolf ruffs from a trapper friend.

Scheduled start date (weather permitting)? On the December 12th Ilyushin Flight

Estimated days on the ice? Scheduled for 32 days from Pole drop-off to pick-up – totally variable though.

Hank’s Facebook Page

Tracker

Previous on Explorersweb about kiters on SP to Hercules Inlet:

2008: Mission accomplished: PH chef Ronnie Finsaas kites from the pole to the coast in 5 days

2015: Frédérick Dion kites 603 km in a straight line in 24 hours

South Pole 2016-17 Interviews on Explorersweb/Pythom:

[UPDATE 2] Risto Hallikainen, solo South Pole return ski attempt (Interview)

1989: Arved Fuchs traversed Antarctica, with Messner (Interview)

Ryan Waters to guide Fuchs-Messner route (Antarctica 2016-17 interview)

Canadian Sébastien Lapierre to attempt solo ski to South Pole (Interview)

1989: Arved Fuchs traversed Antarctica, with Messner (Interview)

Emma Kelty: speed ski and return attempt (Exweb South Pole interview)

Exweb South Pole Interview with Johanna Davidsson: kite return attempt

Previous/Related:

Antarctica: The Waiting Game at Union Glacier

Interactive Map: Antarctica Skiing Routes

ALE and ALCI open Antarctica season

Michele Pontrandolfo to attempt solo Antarctic Traverse again

2016-17 Antarctica Ski Expedition List – updated

Antarctic Researcher died in the field (October 2016)

Antarctica Current: Polar How-To-Guide Heads-Up

Explorers House map with interactive South Pole ski routes

HumanEdgeTech Expedition Technology (e.g.CONTACT software)

AdventureStats.com for Polar Statistics and Rules. Note that a solo claim has to be unassisted,

therefore no supplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything (food, fuel, etc) received from any person along the way. A solo person may be wind supported (kites/sails). Claiming to have ‘skied to the Pole’, a full route (from a coastal start point) has to be completed, without flying part of the route.

Weather:

http://earth.nullschool.net/

https://www.windyty.com/

http://www.yr.no/place/Antarctica/Other/Union_Glacier/

ALE Union Glacier weather cam 79º 46’S, 83º 16”W

South Pole webcam 90ºS

The Coldest Place on Earth

#polar #antarctica #Southpole #thepoles #skisouthpole

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