Antarctica 2022: Sastrugi, Sastrugi, and More Sastrugi

After some unique Christmas celebrations, the expeditions were back at work, ticking off the remaining kilometres to the South Pole.


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 slogged through 130km of sastrugi over the last six days, including the last two days in a whiteout. “We are hoping that it’s going to pass reasonably soon, so we skied [just] 17km today, making sure that we don’t hurt ourselves,” Andrews explained in his most recent voice note.

The sastrugi obstacles have dented their progress, dragging their daily average back down to about 20km.

Preet Chandi

A remarkable percentage of Chandi’s reports begin with slight variations of “it was another tough day,” including four out of her last five check-ins, as she too navigates the sastrugi closer to the Pole.

Chandi only has 2° to go. She passed 88° a couple of days ago. Chandi’s terrain feedback is bad news for Andrews and Stephenson’s hopes of the sastrugi easing any time soon. Stephenson and Andrews have just crossed 86°: They started further away from the Pole, on northern Berkner Island.

Six-person Australian team

The team enjoyed perfect weather on Christmas Day. “Minus 18° with not a breath of wind and full sunshine meant jackets off,” they wrote. Soon after, the temperatures dropped as they continued their climb to the plateau. They are roughly halfway between 86° and 87°.

Hercules Inlet to the South Pole

Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti broke out the charcuterie for their Christmas meal but were crushed to discover that the cheese they had picked up in Punta Arenas was terrible. It turned out that they had accidentally bought “vegetable cheese” that tastes awful. “When squeezed, liquid flows out, and when cut, it splits like a salmon fillet,” they lamented.

Christmas meal in Antarctica.

Christmas dinner. Photo: Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti


It has been a couple of days since their last update but they should have now passed 86°. Quite a few of the solo skiers must be (relatively) bunched up as they climb. Norwegian solo skier Hedvig Hjertaker has likewise just passed 86°.

Mateusz Waligora is still grinding, tacking on a symbolic 11 extra steps each day. The additional steps are a reference to Scott, who reportedly would have survived had he managed just 11 more steps per day.

After some initial worries about whether he had enough supplies, Waligora now appears to be on schedule. He just under 20 days to finish his run to the Pole and less than 400km to go.

Ben Weber recently came across a strange set of ruins. Weber believes that the snow Christmas tree and outdoor dining area had been fashioned by the Ousland Explores team. As with the other expeditions, Weber is not enjoying the sastrugi but has at least noted less soft, sticky snow.

A Christmas tree made of snow in Antarctica.

Ben Weber came across the remains of a Christmas celebration. Photo: Ben Weber


Norwegians AK Gluck-Teigland and Kjartan Bergsvag are absolutely flying along. Their expedition started later than most (on November 28) and yet they are about to break 88°, putting in some huge 40km+ days. The duo are clearly strong athletes and it will be interesting to see if they take on a bigger trip in a future Antarctic season.

Speed Record

Only one speed record hopeful remains, and Caroline Cote remains on target to threaten Johanna Davidsson’s 2016 time, at the very least.

Roughly halfway between 86˚ and 87˚, Cote states that “conditions are not the best, there was a lot of wind,” but still managed 37.5km. She has remained pretty consistent so far, clocking up similar mileage whether she reports great weather or poor conditions.

Guided groups from the Messner Start

The 10-person Inspire 22 team continues to complete their set daily distances (usually around 22km), seemingly without any drama.

The Ousland Explorers offers refreshingly positive updates as they cross 88°. “Terrain is changing by the hour. Rolling hills, with ups and downs, sastrugi and flat. Sunny and overcast,” they wrote in a recent update on day 36 of their expedition.

Then, in a recent voice update, they reported that “The conditions are amazing, the weather is fantastic…amazing sastrugi fields.” I’m happy to see that at least one team enjoys the sastrugi!

The Ousland Explorers team out on the ice.

The Ousland Explorers team out on the ice. Photo: Ousland Explorers

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.