Antarctica: Christmas, and Teapot Air-Dropped

Doug Tumminello received a new teapot in an awkward situation. Henry crossed brutal sastrugi and closes in on Last Degree.

(Correne Coetzer, South Pole ski Dispatches, December 22-27. Edited on Dec 29: Available Dec. 28 dispatches added)

Doug Tumminello received a new teapot, not for Christmas, but to save his expedition. Read below the awkward situation when the teapot was dropped from the air.

The Southern Hemisphere experienced the longest day of the year, but it had no influence on the length of the skiers’ day, as they experience 24 hours daylight. Stew explains, “We are working on Chilean time which is GMT-3hrs and pretty close to local noon where we are. At midday”, the sun in due North and behind us and at midnight it is due south and slightly lower in the sky. The sun tracks around in a full circle going from NWSE or rather we are spinning relative to it.”

Traverse skier, Henry Worsley, crossed brutal sastrugi the day after Christmas. He said he might be getting weaker; he is already out there for 45 days and started off with a 150kg sled.


Note: Definitions below according to

assisted = resupplies

supported = kite/car/skidoo support u2028

HENRY WORSLEY (55) UK, solo, Unassisted Unsupported traverse 1100nm / 2037km, Berkner Island – Geographic South Pole – Shackleton Glacier (Ross Ice Shelf), Started November 13, 2015.

Before Christmas, Henry measured -38ºC in a headwind, although in sunshine. Christmas Day gave him good weather and surface, but the next day, was the worst since the start, says Henry.

Day 43, Dec. 26, long uphill slog in whiteout conditions; over, through and around the most dense, impenetrable sastrugi he has seen. No fun at all. Willpower alone kept him going to complete the 13 miles he has set for the day.

Yesterday was sunny, but no glide, no slide, no consistency, an all day effort across the uneven sastrugi running in all directions, though a little smaller than the previous day. Only at 8 pm he cracked his 13 nm for the day. 75 miles to the Geographic South Pole.

Day 45 Dec, 27. S88º 45.377 W52º 55.471

Time Travelled 12 Hours, Distance , 13.1 Nautical Miles

Accumulated Distance 496.3 Nautical Miles

Altitude 8721 Ft, Temperature -30 °C

Wind Speed 3 Mph, Weather Fine

LUKE ROBERTSON (30) UK/Scotland, solo, Unassisted Unsupported 1130km, Hercules Inlet to Geographic South Pole, Started December 5, 2015.

Luke still has problems charging his tech. He reported that he is satisfied with his progress. December 26 short message: “Good day skiing. Heard plane approaching Thiels. Hope all had a great xmas. Hohoho! Tks so much for donations, support and messages.”

Location UTC 12/28/2015 1:21:00 AM

Lat -84.977005 Lon -080.800410 Elev 1338 m

Day 46 Dec. 28: S88º 59.773 W53º 37.225

Time Travelled 12 Hours

Distance 14.5 NM downhill, harder

Accumulated Distance 510.8 Nautical Miles

Altitude 8798 Ft Temperature -41C, Wind Speed 11 mph,

Weather Cold: hands freezing and toilet activities challenging.

DOUG TUMMINELLO USA, Assisted (emergency supply) Unsupported 1130km, Hercules Inlet – Geographic South Pole, Started December 6, 2015, at 7 pm, skiing for an hour.

“The small problem of a leaky point turns into dangerous situation,” reported Doug about his teapot. With no other way to melt water, he had to ask ALE for a new pot. The Twin Otter pilots dropped him a teapot and regular pot. He described the airdrop:

“About 2:00 pm I was taking a “nature break”, and turned around just as a plane – a Twin Otter – was about to pass right over me, about 200 feet up! It had been following my trail from my last camp and I’m sure the pilot was gleeful to be ambushing me. I never heard it coming, but just happened to turn around in the nick of time! The plane made a couple of passes overhead, and a crewman tossed a stuff sack out of an open door. It fell about 50 feet away. It contained not one, but two new pots! A tea pot and a regular pot. I guess they wanted to be sure I had what I needed. I gave the pilot a thumbs up as the plane passed over a third time; the plane waggled its wings and headed south toward the pole. I’m sure the pilots love flying down here – the adventure, the fun, and the practical jokes on unsuspecting people such as me.”

Doug added, “Having external assistance from ALE turns my expedition from solo/unsupported to supported, but I think it’s my only choice. It wouldn’t be wise to continue with only the leaking pot – I can imagine the scenario where I’m in a week-long storm and the pot totally fails. At that point I’d be in real trouble – no way to get assistance from ALE during the storm and no way to melt snow for water.”

[Editor’s Note: The Rules of Adventure as written at AdventureStats, were compiled by early Polar explorers, before the existence of Explorersweb.]

As for Doug’s fuel, he brought enough for just under 200 ml/day. “For 50 days I brought about 9 1/2 liters. I’m careful with fuel consumption, so that should be plenty. The important thing is not to let water boil or get too hot – waste of fuel. At night I also melt enough snow for breakfast, and store that warm water overnight in a thermos, to retain the heat (and thus the fuel).”

Distances reported: 10.3nm, 12.12nm, 10nm (in new snow)

CARL ALVEY (UK, ANI guide), EMMA TAMSIN KELTY (UK), Assisted Unsupported 1130km, Hercules Inlet – Geographic South Pole, Started December 5, 2015.

The duo picked up their first resupply on Dec. 24. On the 26th they crossed their third degree of latitude. Mostly sunny conditions with deep snow, pulling “the snow ploughs” and “rough enough to act like sandpaper on the skis and sled,” said Em. “It’s uber cold and on the ground [the snow is] like glue and ensure that max effort is put into each step!!”

Reported distances: 12.7nm (8 hours, mostly white-out), 10.5nm (7 hours), 9nm. Elevation 870.89 m / 2857.25 ft.

DEVON MCDIARMID (CA, ANI guide), STEW EDGE (UK), MOSTAFA SALAMEH (Jordan), SHAHROM ABDULLAH (Malaysia), Assisted Unsupported 890km, Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) – South Pole, Started Dec. 9, 2015.

The men got to their first resupply on Dec 25. Real food from the chefs at Union Glacier waited for them at the resupply: Beef stew, rosemary bread and chocolate cake, as well as beer and wine. Stew wrote their sleds weighed a maximum of 70 kg each, with the resupply food and fuel for another 17 days until their next resupply. Pulk 10kg. 20days food 27kg. 20days fuel 5kg. Clothes 10kg. Stove and pot 2kg. Tent 6kg. Hot water for the day in thermos 2kg. Sleeping bag and mats 3kg. Batteries, solar panel, sat phones 3kg. First aid/ spares/ wash kit 2kg. Mostafa says they are consuming 5250 calories per day and are losing weight.

The sleds they are using are Acapulka 210, which are long enough to fit the tent in with only splitting the poles in the middle, said Stew. “This has the advantage of allowing us to pitch out tents in under 3minutes, which when it is cold and windy is a major plus. We also add snow to the skirts on the flysheet to prevent snow blowing up in between the inner and fly, and also helps keeps the tent down in strong winds. We have snow pegs but in soft snow we also use our skis as pegs.”

Yesterday the men crossed a 150m hill.

Reported distances: 14.61nm, 14.38nm, 14.3nm

Position @ Stewart Edge Mon Dec 28th, 2015 3:53:30 pm Elev: 1461.68 m;

Lat: S 85°36’48.6540″ Lon: W 81°05’25.3176″

Dec. 28: Good weather and surface

Tue Dec 29th, 2015 7:55:15 pm UTC+2

Elevation: 1640.35 m Lat: S 85°58’11.0028″ Lon: W 81°37’57.2160″


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.

Previous: Christmas on Antarctica Hundred Years Ago

Previous update: Antarctica: medical air drop, and notorious sastrugi fields