Antarctica: So Near And Yet So Far

Too slow progress to Shackleton Glacier. Skiers and kiters meet on Hercules Inlet route.

(Correne Coetzer) Unfavorable conditions the last three days (Day 67-69) hampered Henry’s progress. Poor visibility and soft snow drained his reserves, and was clearly audible in his voice dispatches over the satellite phone with a discouraging report on Day 69.

Devon and Stew hit the notorious sastrugi fields in 87 degrees. They had gone out a little more west in the hope of flatter ground but got bigger sastrugi, even bigger than when they skied South. “It was like a frozen ocean with a 3m swell and boy do our knees and legs hurt.”

Yesterday the kiters, who are travelling from the Pole to Hercules Inlet, bumped into Carl and Emma, who are skiing to the Pole from Hercules Inlet.

Wrap-up January 18-20

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. South Pole January 2, 2016 (Day 51).

Day 67 January 18: Thickest white-out every on the expedition, lasted all day. Deep layer of snow slowed him down. 13.6 nm in 14 hours at 9413 ft. The promised descent, to speed up skiing, was not in sight. Henry got sight of the Transantarctic Mountains on the East. This helps to know that he is getting closer to the Shackleton Glacier, he said.

Day 68 January 19: A report from his home team: “Another day of whiteout, another day cursed by the soft surface. No narrative on a disheartening day that drains Henry of all reserves – today, his picture’s worth a thousand words [see left]. Sleep is the only the answer on a day tough as this.” 12.3 nm in 14 hours at 9447 ft.

Day 69 January 20: “A very unproductive day, unfortunately, from the realization that I won’t have time to reach the Ice Shelf.” Henry says he is “an extremely weakened state”.

Data Day 69, January 20, S86º 22.597 W177º 44.337, 3.5 nm in 5 hours, Accumulated Distance 794.0 Nautical Miles, Altitude 9460 Ft, Temperature -30°C, Wind Speed 3 Mph, Weather Whiteout

DEVON MCDIARMID (CA, ANI guide), STEW EDGE (UK) Assisted Kite-Supported Traverse, Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) – Geographic South Pole – Hercules Inlet 2020km, Start December 9, 2015. South Pole January 13, 2016.

Stew reported they were jumping sastrugi and hearing a loud boom of the snowpack compacting below as they landed. “Some were as loud as thunder and made for great entertainment. We are using far less energy kiting so now have down jacket and primaloft trousers but as we are going with the wind and into the sun I was quite warm all day. We also only had 3 breaks today compared to 6 when walking as it takes longer each time we stop with the kite and we are not working as hard to need as many.”

Yesterday he reported less wind and they worked their kites for 2 hours every time they got a breath. With no wind, they sat on their pulks. Otherwise, they camped. Stew said, being in a tent on a kite trip, the slightest breeze wakes them.

Kites they used: 14m Frenzy kites. Two days ago, they tried the 10m ski sail and the 11m Frenzy on 25m lines but found all the wind is up high so only a kite on long lines was any good.

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

Emma reported: “11.5nm uphill still through the bumpy sastrugi! We stopped early as we may have found a good landing spot for the new guide, resupply and of course the plane. Getting even colder -25 today plus wind chill! Everything is freezing even the tent. Last night and tonight will need both sleeping bags. Sadly a downside of the cold with little/ no sun is that ice-laden clothes do not dry ……and ice clothes are put back on in the morning…”

Emma told about their brief meeting with Dev and Stew. “There were lots of hugs … Something that I haven’t had since the start point. Funny what you suddenly realise what you have missed….. (Along with a massive craving for a huge burger, beer, salad, chips, roast dinner, banoffee pie, real filter coffee…… The list is long ….) Funny old world ….. In the middle of Antarctica and guess who we bumped into (although it was close to them just kiting by).”


Devon, Stew, Mostafa and Shahrom at the South Pole

Eric Philips: 1998-99 Shackleton Glacier to 2015 Queen Maud Land (Pythom Interview)

Queen Maud Land, “probably the most fascinating ice and rock landscape of our planet,” says Christoph Hoebenreich


Borge Ousland: A Conversation about Cold

A New Age Of Discovery?

The Explorers Club Presidential Dinner with Gordon Wiltsie

British Exploring appointed a new CEO

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS for The Shackleton Reward, open till January 22

Call for team mate on Greenland


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.

#SouthPole #Antarctica