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

Return and traverse skiers are leaving for Antarctica in an hour (12:11UTC) reported Risto from Punta Arenas. UPDATE, Nov. 11: ALE reported (about 20:00 UTC) first Ilyushin this season landed at Union Glacier. UPDATE 2, Nov. 13: Waiting at UG for good weather to fly to Hercules Inlet, reported Risto to home team, Vesa Luomala.

His motivation for doing this solo, unassisted unsupported return journey: ”Skiing is a joyful thing,” Finnish skier, Risto Hallikainen, told Explorersweb/Pythom.

Only one person has ever done a solo return journey, that is covering the whole distance without receiving any resupplies along the way, or dining at the South Pole or elsewhere. In the 2011-12 season, Norwegian Aleksander Gamme completed the 2260 km ski from Hercules Inlet and back in 87 days.

Risto wants to give a twist to this by attempting to not leave depots on the way to the Pole for the return, but to haul all the food and fuel needed for the whole distance all the way. His sled would possibly weigh between 160-180 kg. The start is steep out of Hercules Inlet, the wind from the front, and the clock is ticking, with the bad weather on Antarctica keeping the return and traverse skiers hotel bounded in Punta Arenas. All conditions that could affect leaving depots or not, he says.

In the 2013-14 season, fellow countryman, Vesa Loumala, skied solo from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. Both of them served in the Finnish Defence Force, and Vesa shared valuable Polar knowledge with Risto, currently a fire fighter.

While waiting in Punta Arenas, Risto told us his life in Finland, with his wife and two kids. Also that, as a two-year-old, he already had done a 15 km ski trip, and as a young man was trained to survive in cold weather while in the Finnish Defence Force Parachute School. Here goes Risto’s story:

“I have learn to ski in South Carelia, Finland. I’ve been told by my parents, that my first long ski trip was when I was 2 years old: 15 km. Where I grow up in country side, there was only skiing or ice hockey to do. I skied. Later I did my service for Finnish Defence Forces in Utti, Parachute School. Like Vesa has done too. There I was instructed in skills to survive in the cold and was taught the principle, what means to pull sled.”

“I do cross-country skiing every winter, even though there has been less snow lately, but my home town, Imatra, makes great snow track for skiers. My home town is located near Lake Saimaa, which has offered for me the possibility to train in cold, windy, and challenging conditions. So, I have trained from home mostly doing ski trips, first to work, doing my duty there, and continuing my practice at Lake Saimaa. I have put up my tent up in the field of a fire station. I have a camp there at Kati’s backyard too. Sometimes the kids come sleeping in the tent too. Now South Carelian Fire Department pays my salary and gives me firefighters job.”

“I do every kind of sports, but mostly I run, hike, road bike, and, in winter, cross-country ski.”

“I have wife, six year daughter and seven year boy. With them we do football and downhill skiing. The last two years I have quietly decided to be at home and prepare there for the South Pole ski. I have done a time, two years ago in Sarek with group and several times I have skied in Lapland.”

“Vesa has helped me a lot. He has told me about his equipment that he used during his expedition. I have been sitting a lot with laptop surfing in Internet. When I collected my kit, I contacted Vesa, it seemed very much the same. My food is basically the same as Vesa had. He has been very helpful -THANKS! to him.”

Gear: MSR stoves, Thermos, Nalgene etc.

skis: Åsnes Gamme 48, Åsnes Holmenkollen

Sled: Acapulka expedition professional, 210

Tent: Helsport Patagonia 3

Boots: Alfa Polar A/P/S BC

sleeping bag: Helsport Kongsfjorden

Clothes: Sasta 3 Poles, Marmot& Bergans down, Devold, Bridgedale, Hestra, Scott, etc

Anything special Finnish that you take with? Hand made felt cloth “Predator hat”, same material gloves and inner liners for ski boots.

Follow team blogs in the Dispatch stream on pythom.com

South Pole 2016-17 Interviews on Explorersweb/Pythom:

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


(UPDATED) Finland skier’s gear released by customs, and Italian kiter grounded

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, and 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.

Logistic operators:

ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions)

ALCI (Antarctic Logistics Center International)





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

South Pole webcam 90ºS

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