Solo Lady outruns British Army, again

Johanna Davidsson was greeted at the South Pole by Hannah McKeand, whose Solo Female World Record she broke. British team at the Pole. Two expeditions in Last Degree, another one aborted.

Ten years ago, when Hannah McKeand set the Solo Speed Ski World Record on Antarctica, Tina wrote on Explorersweb about a “friendly race” between the solo lady and her fellow countrymen, the Marines and the RAF. “Starting out at Patriot Hills (further inland), the British Marines barely made the Pole before Hannah. RAF team unfortunately had to abort due to health issues. It was a friendly race; but she beat them all – unsupported and alone.”

This season a solo lady repeated the feat. Johanna Davidsson, started the same day, November 15, at the same place, Hercules Inlet, as Lou Rudd’s Army Reservists. Navigating all the way on her own, she had no intention to outrun anybody, and was surprised with the daily distances she read on her GPS. Her first time on the ice, Johanna said she likes Antarctica, and calls the notorious sastrugi and the blinding white-outs her friends. She arrived at the South Pole on December 24 in a new Female Solo World Record. Lou Rudd and his team, Oliver Stoten, Chris Brooke, Alex Brazier, Alun George and James Facer-Childs, arrived a day later.

When Johanna arrived at the South Pole on December 24, she was greeted there with a hug from Hannah McKeand, who happens to be ALE’s South Pole camp manager. Johanna shaved off 10 hours from Hannah’s Solo Female Speed Ski World Record, with a time of 38d 23h 5 m, over 1130 km.

Interactive Map: Antarctica Skiing Routes

2016-17 Antarctica Ski Expedition List – updated

Rerun – AdventureStats Special: What is Solo?

Hercules Inlet 80ºS start point unassisted to the Pole

Risto Hallikainen (FI) is in 89 degrees. He plans to return to Hercules Inlet and has left several depots while skiing South, to claim the whole journey as solo, unassisted unsupported. Risto messaged Exweb/Pythom telling, “the view is gorgeous here, sunny weather, best snow.” Certainly better weather than what Johanna experienced. Home team member, Vesa Luomala, reported from Finland, “Risto has been doing awesome kilometers lately. Today (26th) he crossed 89ºS in a 41 km day and I expect him to arrive at the Pole on 28th or 29th. He left one depot on 88. There is consideration going on if he should take extra food from the Pole, but that will be decided based on feeling and condition once he arrives there, as it would remove solo and unassisted status from his return trip.” Location: Dec 27, 12:56:30 PM Elevation: 2,778.62 m Lat: 89.250795 Lon: 082.166083.

Sébastien Lapierre (CA) reported the weather is perfect. Location Dec 27, 10:27:00 AM, Elevation: 5,846.46 ft. Lat: 86.360200 Lon: 081.639596

Johanna Davidson (SE) recapped at the Pole: “My ski trip has been fantastic, but the last week was tough. When I had 8 kilometers left to the finish, and the record, I felt powerless in the whole body, but a small part of the frontal bone would still continue. Now I’m sooooo happy that I did it! Now I just have to rest up and recharge.” She is waiting for favorable kiting winds to leave the Pole for Hercules Inlet.

Małgorzata Wojtaczka (PL). From the Polish translation it seems as if the solo lady had encountered a crevasse field, some crevasses up to 6 meters wide. She tested the snowbridges with her ski pole, and a few times the pole went through. Malgorzata put her harness on and lengthened the sled ropes. She changed her route to find a way out between the crevasses. Location 27/Dec/2016 14:00:05 UTC 85° 20.483S, 080° 51.608W 1362m.

Lou Rudd (leader), Oliver Stoten, Chris Brooke, Alex Brazier, Alun George and James Facer-Childs (ALL UK): On Day 40, December 24, the Army Reservists camped 12 nautical miles from the South Pole, and arrived on the 25th. They haven’t confirmed if they will carry on beyond the Pole as planned, or not.

Fuchs-Messner 82ºS start point unassisted to the Pole

Ryan Waters (US) guiding for Mountain Professionals: Katrina Follows (England, lives in Chamonix), Paul Adams (USA) and Scott Kress (CA): No new detail news from the team, but they are closing in on the South Pole. They are in the last degree of latitude and should enjoy the same good weather as Risto. Location: 2016-12-26, 22:02Z Latitude: -89.194533, Longitude: -082.159581 Altitude: 2804 meter.

S70.1015 W009.8249 start point, unassisted kite-support Start December 12, 2016, Mike Horn (ZA/CH): His tracker has not been updated since December 21 (previous post), but he has sent a Christmas message.

Reedy Glacier 85ºS unassisted, Eric Philips (AU) guide, Rob Smith (UK) and Keith Tuffley: One of their sleds are damaged and needs regular maintenance, which is not easy in the cold. They also have solar panel problems. The men have left behind the Reedy Glacier and Trans-Antarctic Mountains, and have views of endless horizons and sastrugi. Location Camp 20, Elevation: 2815 m Latitude: 87° 38’ 15” South Longitude: 126° 53’ 58” West.

Hercules Inlet to South Pole – emergency assisted, Emma Kelty (UK): no new news.

Fuchs-Messner route to South Pole – assisted (three resupplies), Carl Alvey (UK) guiding for ALE, Bob Maxwell (NZ): no new news.

Cycling South Pole to Hercules Inlet – assisted. Hank van Weelden (CA) aborted his cycle expedition. Hank says Antarctica was his big dream but it was too big and the suffering too great for the rest of his life. He added there were some physical and emotional factors contributing to his decision. In his voice dispatch on Dec. 25 he said he was on his bike for 14 hours until he got where he wanted to stop. He was stumbling and falling and could barely put his tent up, crawled into his tent and lied down for 45 minutes before he could put his stove on. Hank says he does not want to do that for the next 26 days, but rather spend it with friends and family. He does not say where he has stopped, but he was still busy with his first degree out of the Pole. UPDATE December 28: Regarding Hank’s location, Bill Spindler pointed out, “On the fourth day (post labeled “Dec 22nd Update” Hank caught an aircraft returning empty and was flown north to the Thiel Corner refueling site (85ºS) where he would continue north for 6 hours/one good day before announcing that he was quitting.”

Novolazarevskaya to South Pole snowmobile return 4,280km

Patrick “Pata” Degerman (Fi, leader), Pekka Ojanpää (FI), Mika Listala (FI), and Jón Ólafur Magnusson (IS) Four of their sleds did not arrive on Antarctica. Also, they will not get all the gasoline we ordered. Pata reported: “A new logistics plan was made instantly. It could be we have to drive the final few hundreds km to the South Pole with only two sledges. We will make the decisions then. And then we always have skies!” They left on December 24 and change to colder night time driving to get harder snow to drive faster and easier out of Novo. Yesterday they passed the dangerous mountain areas. They covered 90 km. “Target was 150km. We had constant challenges with strapping of our gear and fuel on the sledges which are very heavily loaded. The terrain was rough and the straps broke several times. One sledge is also broken and can only be used for lighter items. This increases the burden on the other sledges.” They are at 2000 masl and temperatures are now between -10 and -20C.

Follow team blogs in the Dispatch stream on

South Pole 2016-17 Interviews on Explorersweb/Pythom:

Exweb South Pole Interview with Johanna Davidsson: kite return attempt

Interview with Pata Degerman: Longest Snowmobile attempt on Antarctica

[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)

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

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

Eric Philips, South Pole 2016-17 New Start Point attempt (Interview)

Previous/Related on Explorersweb/Pythom:

Johanna Davidsson set New Solo Female Speed Record

Editorial: Might is The Answer to Why (Updated)

Breaking news: Christian Eide bags the South Pole solo speed ski world record (January 2011, current male/female Speed Ski World Record holder on Antarctica)

Johanna in reach of World Record; Horn, a cat with 9 lives

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

HumanEdgeTech Expedition Technology (e.g.CONTACT software) 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.

1 nautical mile = 1,852 km

Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S near Union Glacier, 1130 km from the Geographic South Pole.

The Fuchs-Messner start is 890 km in a straight line from the Pole.

Novo to GSP is 2,140 km in a straight line

Novolazarevskaya to South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI) is 1610 km in a straight line.

South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI):

2011-12 position: S82°06.696, E055°01.951 (Copeland/McNair-Landry)

On Dec. 14, 2014 Frédéric Dion reported the position the POI (at Lenin’s bust) as S82º 06.702′ E55º 2.087′ at an elevation of 3741 m.

Geographic South Pole (GSP): 90 degrees South

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:

To ALCI /TAC base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo

70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E

Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:

To ALE base camp, Union Glacier

79° 45’S, 083° 14’W elev 708m

Lat: -79.760591 Lon: -82.856698


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

South Pole webcam 90ºS

The Coldest Place on Earth

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