Antarctica 2022: The Season Begins

For some, the Antarctic season has kicked off. For others, there are still final preparations to complete as they ready to fly out from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier.


There are three variations of Antarctic crossings this season. So far, no one is attempting a full crossing of the continent.

Gareth Andrews and Richard Stephenson

Australian Gareth Andrews and Kiwi Richard Stephenson have set off from northern Berkner Island, heading to the Ross Ice Shelf via the South Pole. The pair have an impressive 2,023km slog ahead of them.

A map showing Antarctica.

The route. Photo: Antarctica 2023


They flew out on November 13, stopping off at the Gould Bay Emperor Penguin camp to drop supplies before landing on Berkner Island. Then, on November 14, they put in a full day of skiing, then set up camp.

The next day, they only managed 10km in deep snow. This was the start of a long uphill grind to the Antarctic plateau. “We are happy…we knew it would be a slow start,” they wrote in their daily blog post.

The next day they managed 15km despite fresh snow. The weather looks good, with clear skies and light wind.

Preet Chandi

Preet Chandi isn’t wasting any time. On November 12, she posted from Punta Arenas. By November 15, she was already geared up and at her start point.

“It’s pretty cold at the moment and very windy, a lot colder and windier than when I started last year. But last year I started later in the season, and I know the weather can be more temperamental early on. I can really feel my 120kg pulk. Going quite slow at the moment but I’ll gradually build up my mileage as my pulk gets lighter,” she wrote.

A sled in Antarctica covered in snow.

Preet Chandi reports colder, windier conditions than last year. Photo: Preet Chandi


Chandi might feel that it has been a slow start, but her tracker shows that she has already knocked off 40km from her 1,600km solo crossing, an impressive start that bodes well.

Six-person Australian team

Emily Chapman, Vincent Carlsen, Jack Forbes, Sean Taylor, Kelly Kavanagh, and Tim Geronimo have arrived at Union Glacier. The weather forced a longer-than-expected wait in Punta Arenas, and they are keen to get going. They hope to fly out to their starting point tomorrow.

A hutge number of bags in Punta Arenas.

A big team requires a lot of gear. Photo: The Spirit Lives Antarctica


Their route plans have changed somewhat. They will now start from Hercules Inlet rather than the Messner Start. They aim to complete their Hercules Inlet-South Pole-Ross Ice Shelf expedition in around 72 days.

Hercules Inlet to the South Pole

Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti are still in Punta Arenas making their final preparations. Over the last few days, they have been food shopping and packing their gear for the flight into Union Glacier. This involved dividing 220kg of gear into bags of 25kg or less.

Mikko Vermas strikes a pose in his ski insulation in a hotel room in Punta Arenas.

Mikko Vermas testing out his insulation in Punta Arenas. Photo: Tero Teelahti


Most of the solo skiers are still in Punta Arenas or Union Glacier. Solo skier Mateusz Waligora is in Antarctica and, weather permitting, is due to fly to Hercules Inlet today. Norwegian Hedvig Hjertaker is still in Punta Arenas and Scot Benjamin Weber flew to Union Glacier yesterday.

There are also at least two speed record hopefuls this season, though neither has set off yet. Canadian Caroline Cote and Brit Wendy Searle each hope to break Swede Johanna Davidsson’s time of 38 days and 23 hours from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. Searle is due to begin her sprint on December 5, and Cote is also likely to wait out the season’s changeable early weather (and soft snow).

Wendy Searle covered in snow and ice, wearing skis in near white-out conditions

Wendy Searle attempted to break the Hercules Inlet to South Pole speed record in 2019, finishing three days behind Davidsson’s 2016 time. Photo: She Who Dares

Guided groups from the Messner Start

The 10-person team composed of a mixture of British military personnel and civilians, guided by Canadian Devon McDiarmid, is still packing in Punta Arenas.

After five days of delays, the Ousland Explorers team (guide Bengt Rotmo, Laura Andrews, Mike Dawson, and Marthe Brendefur) arrived at Union Glacier on November 16.

Wrapping up the Messner Start guided groups, two Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) teams will also set out on the roughly 1,000km route to the Pole. No word yet on their start dates.

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 in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.