Antarctica: Colliard Nears Pole, Omar Di Felice Aborts

This week in Antarctica, Omar Di Felice aborts his cycle ride at Thiels Corner and Vincent Colliard only needs one big kick to break the Hercules Inlet to South Pole speed record.

Hercules Inlet to the South Pole

James Baxter offers some interesting insight into route finding for those skiing from Hercules Inlet. The suggested route from ALE may not always be the optimal one. Baxter wrote:

The next waypoint was about 40 km to the south…However, to the east of this was a crevassed area…[so] we should stay west from it. I also had information from the most experienced Norwegian expedition organizer that it was far better to go much further west. That way, the climbs were not so steep, the sastrugi were smaller, and you were well away from any potential crevasses. So I decided to veer west…and then come back east again and join the ALE route some 30-40km to the south.

Climbing to the polar plateau, Baxter says the wind has been a “constant menace.” The weather forecast for the next few days is not ideal, so he’ll continue to battle the wind and poor visibility.

Georgina Gilbert and Rebecca Openshaw-Rowe are now several days ahead of Baxter. The pair are well into degree 89 and should finish in two or three days. They’ve sped up on the polar plateau and are putting in close to 30km per day.

After not seeing anyone else since 85°, they are bumping into last-degree skiers.

“It’s a really strange feeling, but it’s nice to see other people enjoying Antarctica,” they said in their most recent audio update.

Pierre Hedan needed to hurry to the Pole because of a fuel leak, with dodgy ski bindings adding further stress. He coped admirably, rationing his fuel and nursing the binding through the sastrugi.

On Jan. 8, his home team announced that he had arrived at the South Pole. He finished in 49 days and managed to avoid a resupply, despite his tribulations.

Vincent Colliard

Colliard has just broken 1,000km in 21 days and remains on track to break Christian Eide’s time of 24 days, 1 hour, and 13 minutes, set in 2011.

Colliard’s daily average is the same as Eide’s, at 47km per day, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Eide finished his run with roughly 190km in three days, raising his average considerably. Colliard is ahead of Eide at the same point in their journeys, with three days to go and less than 150km to cover. (Colliard’s home team reports that he is now within 100km of the Pole.) He should beat the record if he can come close to matching the Norwegian’s closing kick.

Vincent Colliard.

Vincent Colliard. Photo: Vincent Colliard

Berkner Island to the South Pole

If Patrick Bernier had started at Hercules Inlet, he’d have finished. With 1,179km under his belt, the Canadian has put in an impressive showing from the Berkner Island start point. He is well into degree 88 and should finish before the season ends on Jan. 18. You can listen to his audio updates (in French) here.

Fat biking to the Pole

As expected, Omar Di Felice ran out of time to reach the Pole, let alone to push on to the Leverett Glacier as he had planned.

Di Felice covered 680km, just over half the distance required to the South Pole, never picking up much momentum and likely spending much more time pushing the bike than riding it.

After discussions with ALE, he returned to Thiels Corner for pick up and flew back to Union Glacier.

Guided trips

With under 190km to go, Kustaa Piha, Anders Brotherus, and guide Poppis Suomela’s supported expedition took a rest day yesterday. They have been putting in 22-25km per day and should comfortably finish before the season ends.

The Pole Expeditions demonstrate an innovative way to use a tent.

An innovative way to use a tent. Photo: The Pole Expeditions

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.