Antarctic Traverse skiers relay; Boeing and Three Teams at Union Glacier

Pontrandolfo still in windless zone; Worsley climbing Wujek Ridge; ALE landed a Boeing landed at Union Glacier in joint partnership with Loftleidir Icelandic, and NAS Corporation Limited (NAS).
(Correne Coetzer, edited Dec, 2, 2015) Already 8 days into his kiting expedition from Novolazarevskaya, Michele Pontrandolfo has still one message from Antarctica, no wind, his sponsor Moncler reported to Pythom. Sledge-hauling uphill with heavy sleds was hard and tiring. The same message come through from the other traverse skier, Henry Worsley, going up the Wujek Ridge. Both had to relay their gear.

ANI/ALE reported that they landed a Boeing 757 [not the usual Ilyushin-76] on the blue ice runway at Union Glacier. Carl and Devon’s teams, as well as solo skier Luke Robertson flew in. Carl’s team will spend time sorting food for their resupply cashes before they set foot at Hercules Inlet.

Eric Philips reported from Novo. They flew in with an Ilyushin-76. [Ed note December 2: Eric previously reported that they have flown in with an Antanov-74, but corrected it to an Ilyushin-76.]


The temperature is reasonable and definitely acceptable: in the evening it is around 10 degrees below zero, reported Michele to Moncler, his expedition sponsor. They sent over news and photos to Pythom.

Latest news from Michele to Moncler on the 26th: “It’s been almost a month since my departure from Italy and I’m on the seventh day of expedition through Antarctica. The days are flying by and I haven’t had yet a full day of wind in my favor. I walk the daily distance with difficulty: the two sleds weigh 180kg in total and when the difference in altitude is high I am forced to drag them one by one. Therefore I am able to cover only a few kilometers per day, that should be multiplied by three times considering that I first carry a sled and then I go to retrieve the other. Maybe something will change in my favor this weekend: I really hope so.”

Position S 70 58’11.17” E 11 13’33.15”, elev 981 m.


When the wind gave him a chance to get out of the tent, it took Henry 3 hours to recover his sled and tent out of the snowdrift. The easterly wind still blew 25 miles and more. He finally reached the mountains that he saw since ten days before and was excited to be near the granite faces and ice falls.

Henry approached the Wujek Ridge on blue ice and he had to wear crampons all day – finally he got use for them being in his sled, he said. Wind were more viscous and clouds low. Sledge-hauling on the blue ice went well, but when the climb started, snow was soft and 140 kg was hanging off his shoulders and hips. Henry decided to relay and made 4 journeys. It was a great relief when he reached the top, but winds were battering his tent again.

In his latest voice report Henry said, a very soft surface made for a stop-start day. On top of that, he started tired because of the previous day’s climb. Wind died down to a light breeze at the end of the day, Day 14.


Eric reported on November 26th, “We flew at 9am this morning Cape Town time, arriving 5.5 hours later at ALCI Airbase on the Queen Maud Land coast. The flight on the Antonov 74 is always a blast, it’s one of the gnarliest looking planes ever built, it’s noisy as hell inside so they play movies with sub-titles, food is served non-stop and the passengers and crew are a collection of nations from NGO and government bodies – Finns, Indians, English, Chinese, Russians, and an Aussie.”

“A balmy -5C and light wind greeted us and we were quickly shuttled 15km in modified Toyota Hiluxes down the slope to Oasis Guesthouse. Great to see caretakers Leonid and Nadia again who had a big Russian soup waiting for us.”


(un)assisted and (un)supported definitions according to


(no resupplies, no kites)

Henry Worsley UK solo

Unassisted Unsupported traverse 1100nm / 2037km

Gould Bay, Berkner Island – Geographic South Pole – Shackleton Glacier (Ross Ice Shelf)

Luke Robertson UK, Scotland solo

Unassisted Unsupported 1130km

Hercules Inlet to Geographic South Pole

Doug Tumminello USA solo

Unassisted Unsupported 1130km

Hercules Inlet – Geographic South Pole

Devon McDiarmid (CA guide), Stew Edge (UK), Mostafa Salameh (Jordan), Shahrom Abdullah (Malaysia)

Unassisted Unsupported 890km

Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) – G. South Pole


no resupplies, kites

Michele Pontrandolfo (Italy) traverse solo

Coast at Novolazarevskaya – South Pole of Inaccessibility – Geographic South Pole – Hercules Inlet


resupplies, no kites

Carl Alvey (UK, guide), Emma Tamsin Kelty (UK), Khai Nguyen (CA/US)

Resupplies, no kites 1130km

Hercules Inlet – Geographic South Pole


resupply, kites

Devon McDiarmid (CA guide), Stew Edge (UK)

Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) – G. South Pole – Hercules Inlet

Traverse: resupply at SP, kite-ski from Pole, 2020km


Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:

To ALCI /TAC base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo

70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E

Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:

To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier

79° 45’S, 083° 14’W elev 708m

Lat: -79.760591 Lon: -82.856698

Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S near Union Glacier, 1130 km from the Geographic South Pole.

The Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) start is 890 km in a straight line from the Pole.

Novolazarevskaya to South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI) is 1610 km in a straight line.

South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI)

2011-12 position: S82°06.696, E055°01.951 (Copeland/McNair-Landry)

On Dec. 14, 2014 Frédéric Dion reported the position the POI (at Lenin’s bust) as S82º 06.702′ E55º 2.087′ at an elevation of 3741 m.

Geographic South Pole (GSP): 90 degrees South

According to the Rules of Adventure at, to claim a “solo” achievement, requires an unassisted status – therefore no supplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything (food, fuel, etc) received from any person along the way. A solo person may be wind supported (kites/sails). Note that the Polar Rules were compiled by early Norwegian and British Polar explorers and are maintained today by the current community of veteran polar skiers.

1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km

1 nm = 1.151 miles

1 knot = 1.852 km/h

1 degree of Latitude is 110 km / 60 nm / 70 miles

Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet

A nunatak is a top of a mountain visible above the snow surface.

#polar #southpole #southpole2014 #southpole2014-15 #antarctica

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