Antarctica 2023-4: We’re Underway

Unseasonably warm weather delayed some flights into Union Glacier camp, but many Antarctic expeditions have now begun. One skier has already suffered a knee injury, and another was lucky to only make an “almost” critical mistake.


Like last season, there are no full Antarctic crossings announced.

Sam Cox, attempting a 2,000km PECS crossing, kicked off his expedition early last week. Yesterday, he posted after crossing the first degree of latitude en route to the Pole. He’s been covering solid daily distances despite some initial soft snow. He should speed up as his sled weight decreases.

Sam Cox

Sam Cox. Photo: Sam Cox


Cox is now “experiencing some more favorable conditions, with lower temperatures and wind, making the surface much firmer,” according to his home team. He has just cracked 200km.

Hercules Inlet to the South Pole

Twenty-five-year-old American Jacob Myers’ solo expedition was due to begin on Nov. 18, but the warm temperatures meant Union Glacier’s blue-ice runway was out of action for much longer than expected. He finally flew in a week ago and stepped out onto the ice on Nov. 22.

Three days in, Myers nearly lost his GPS, dropping it and skiing on for 40 minutes before noticing. He unclipped from his pulk and returned to pick it up, relieved to escape this “nearly critical mistake” with only a scare.

After seven days, Myers has covered 111km.

James Baxter, who has extensive cold-weather experience in the Scandinavian Arctic, seemed to have found the early going fairly easy. Then his left knee started bothering him on day seven. He took a half day to rest it but the pain returned after a few kilometers the next morning.

Fortunately, a change of gear seems to have alleviated the problem for now.

“I decided to change to the short skins as the conditions now warranted it, anyway. They glided forward much more easily and after a kilometer, I did not feel the knee anymore. Hallelujah,” Baxter wrote in his most recent update.

Afteer nine days, Frenchman Pierre Hedan has clocked 143km according to his (very fancy!) tracker. Slowly but surely, he’s been grinding up toward the polar plateau:

“I’m straining my joints,” he said. “There are three of us trying the same adventure this year and one of us already has a knee in the sack. It’s up to me not to do the same.”

Pierre Hedan

Everyone is working on their ice beards. Photo: Pierre Hedan


British firefighters Georgina Gilbert and Rebecca Openshaw-Rowe are eight days into their 1,130km expedition. They started near but not quite from Hercules Inlet. You can see the exact position on their tracker here. They have completed 146km so far.

They weighed their pulks before setting off and are carrying 120kg and 110kg respectively. “We are hefty, but we have planned for 55 days food and fuel,” they said in an update.

No word yet from British duo Alan Chambers and David Thomas, or from Hercules Inlet to South Pole speed record hopeful Vincent Colliard.

Berkner Island to the South Pole

Canadian Patrick Bernier’s solo expedition from the northern edge of Berkner Island to the Pole was also delayed by the season’s late start. He flew to Union Glacier on Nov. 18 and is well underway, with 188km under his belt.

Fat-biking to the Pole

Omar Di Felice is off and rolling toward the Pole, allbeit quite slowly. Antarctica is a tough place to ride a bicycle, as Di Felice found out last year. He should eclipse his 2022 effort today. Eight days in, he has completed 99km from Hercules Inlet.

A fart-bike in Antarctica

Di Felice’s bike. Photo: Omar Di Felice


Di Felice has already faced a gear malfunction, but it wasn’t the bike. Two of his fuel tanks were leaking, necessitating a resupply from ALE.

“Thanks to an overflight over Antarctica, two tanks finally arrived from the ALE operation field today,” he wrote. “But do not expect an Amazon courier. They were left in the middle of nowhere, with a satellite message to indicate the coordinates. Imagine finding a small invisible point in the immensity of the White Desert. It was not easy and I spent several hours with a compass and GPS.”

Di Felice is alternating between cycling and carrying/dragging the bike, depending on the conditions. He’s also sharing some spectacular photos.

Guided trips

Kustaa Piha, Anders Brotherus, and guide Poppis Suomela, are a week into their supported (they’ll use three resupplies) Hercules Inlet to South Pole trip. They are making decent progress, covering just under 20km per day and fueling themselves with some interesting grub.

“Today, we tested moose stew with the mindset that it will be our Christmas meal and Independence Day celebration feast,” they wrote in a recent update.

Moose stew.

Moose stew. Photo: The Pole Expeditions

There are two other guided trips with very little information available. Lucie Porizova Vyborna, guided by Christian Styve, will set out from the Messner Start to the Pole (at 911km, this is a shorter journey than from Hercules Inlet). And Swede Per Nordstrom will attempt a solo, supported (two resupplies) trip from the same starting point.

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.