Antarctica 2022: Approaching Halfway

In this week’s update, Caroline Cote sets off on her sprint to the Pole, Mateusz Waligora swaps Nansen for Amundsen, and most expeditions report solid progress toward the Antarctic plateau.


There are three variations of Antarctic crossings this season. No one is attempting a full crossing of the continent.

Gareth Andrews and Richard Stephenson

Andrews and Stephenson completed the Wujek Ridge last weekend, alternating between skis and crampons as they climbed into the mountains. The incline proved too steep to ascend with all four sleds, so each left one behind (GPS marked in case of a whiteout) and made a return journey. It was a hard, long day’s work for a little over 14km of progress.

After that slog, it was back to solid 20+km days. However, they have found poor conditions underfoot, with plenty of fresh, soft snow.

Preet Chandi

Chandi has also noted the powdery snow. This soft snow impedes the sled, making pulling harder. Chandi is roughly halfway to the Pole and her home team says that visibility has been poor for most of her journey.

Six-person Australian team

The Australian team put in back-to-back 27km days on December 14 and 15 and were rewarded with their first sighting of a mountain. “The first break from a featureless horizon in weeks!” they enthused.

After those two long days, they’ve elected to take a rest day today and will spend it making any necessary gear repairs.

Hercules Inlet to the South Pole

Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti have kept up their improved pace, repeatedly breaking their daily distance records last weekend. They even managed almost 25km on December 10, despite a whiteout. The next day featured more poor visibility, snowfall, and strong winds. They decided to take a rest day.

Back in the harness on December 12, they put in a solid day over sticky snow but suffered a rather catastrophic “gear” malfunction in the tent. “The moonshine bottle had cracked at the bottom and released half of its contents,” they said.

The duo is approaching 83°, with just over 800km remaining to the Pole.

Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti take a selfie in Antarctica.

Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti are still going strong, and even managing to send back some decent-resolution photographs! Photo: Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti


Mateusz Waligora has been fighting a respiratory infection. Unable to shake it for a week, he started antibiotics on December 11. These seem to have done the trick. Aside from one rest day in a whiteout, Waligora has soldiered on.

He is once again busy arguing with his skis. Lately, Waligora’s conversational partner has been Roald Amundsen, subbing in for Fridtjof Nansen (each legendary explorer is printed onto a pair of Waligora’s skis). But Amundsen doesn’t seem to have been very helpful:

“Roald: Good morning! I am Roald. I know a little about Antarctica. All right, young man, get to work, it’s not going to happen by itself. How many dogs do we have?
Waligora: We don’t have dogs.
Roald: What? How do we not have this? Did you eat them all?”

Catch-up required

Because of his somewhat slow start, Waligora notes that he’ll need to cover at least 20km a day to make the Pole before the season closes.

Mateusz Waligora takes a rest in Antarctica.

Mateusz Waligora has been suffering from an infection. Photo: Mateusz Waligora


Ben Weber’s neck has improved and he has caught up and overtaken Waligora. The two men stopped for a brief chat on December 15. Weber is still taking painkillers but is putting in big days and has crossed 84°.

There’s not much news from the three Norwegians, solo skier Hedvig Hjertaker, and duo AK Gluck-Teigland and Kjartan Bergsvag, but their trackers show good progress. Hjertaker is halfway between 82° and 83° while Gluck-Teigland and Bergsvag are making inroads toward 84°.

Speed record hopefuls

Wendy Searle crossed 82° on day 10 of her run, covering 29km. Day 11 was a little slower and Searle described day 12 as “the toughest day in Antarctica that I have experienced”. Visibility was good and she covered 25km, but the sastrugi were huge and constant. Searle is still slightly behind Johanna Davidsson’s 2016 time but will be hoping to close the gap once she is on the plateau with a lighter sled.

Caroline Cote started a few days later than Searle and seems to be managing expectations regarding a speed record. In her opening audio log from Hercules Inlet, Cote said her primary goal is to have fun and that her expedition might take 40 to 45 days. Nevertheless, Cote seems to have made a fast start. She crossed 82° on day 8, putting her on pace for a sub-40-day run to the Pole.

Guided groups from the Messner Start

The 10-person Inspire 22 team has crossed 84° and arrived at their next resupply point, Thiels Corner. They stopped for a day and a half here to repack and recover. They also ran into Preet Chandi, who stopped for a quick chat before continuing.

A plane drops of supplies at Thiels Corner.

A plane drops supplies at Thiels Corner. Photo: Inspire 22


The Ousland Explorers team also stopped at Thiels Corner to resupply (one of two resupplies for their expedition). They picked up 21 days of food for the next 550km toward the Pole.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found out in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.