Last skiers arrived at the South Pole

Hercules Inlet Route: Emma and Pachi at the Pole

(Correne Coetzer, edited) Emma (Em) Tamsin Kelty and her ANI guide, Pachi Ibarra, arrived at the Geographic South Pole on February 2nd, 2016. Emma set off from Hercules Inlet on December 5th, with guide Carl Alvey (who was evacuated at 88ºS and replaced by Pachi.) Emma’s expedition was assisted (food cashes along the way). She covered the 1130 km in 59 days. [Ed note, not 60 days as reported previously. Emma arrived at the Pole on February 1.]

Being this late in the ski season, the wind-chill the past few days in 89 degrees was down to minus 48 degrees Celsius.

Emma’s last few days on Hercules Inlet route

“It’s so cold… Everything, and I mean everything, turns to ice immediately. Having 2 sleeping bags are great but even now they are starting to not work in these temps,” reported Em on January 30th.

“Today we had to put the tent up for 3 hours in the middle of the day…. Because of the cold. With a couple of quick trail stops, not warming up on the trail (slow lunges for 9 hours doesn’t do it sadly) and not having enough layers on meant that my body (and especially hands) turned to ice white! When that happens it feels like someone is sawing my fingers off and the group shelter didn’t help this time, so tent it was. After a couple of hours warming up hands and toes, putting on another 2 layers, we set off again in a far better state. But its blinkin cold!!!!!” They made up the hours in the tent by skiing till 8 pm.

On January 31st, the ladies skied 10.5 hours, with 1.5 hour pulls and covered 14 nautical miles (26 km). 12.5 nm to go to the Pole.

Emma dared to dream and reached her goal, and still dreaming on, of a solo expedition to the South Pole. “I have learned so much about Antarctica, living and working in it, I just can’t imagine not coming back… I have fallen for Antarctica, which is uber odd, given all of the challenges and barriers presented. […] I have a very long list of things that I need to alter, research, train and find to make the solo more effective, and especially over the last week on trail I have thought a lot about the solo.”

February 2nd [Edit: month corrected, not January as written before]: “I made it!!!!! I can’t believe it!! Today I arrived at the South Pole. Although the forecast was cloudy/overcast … It turned out to be the bluest of skies and not a cloud in the sky. I even got a frostnip that looks like a ‘kiss’ only after I had completed the 700 miles! It seems so surreal but I have to say, it has been the biggest challenge to date. The ski up to the silver ball and flags was uber emotional.” They took photos at the Ceremonial South Pole, toured the US Science Station and slept the night at the Pole.

Daring to Dream

Last week, with the death of Henry Worsley, a blogger, Rachel Hawkins, was deeply touched by what happened to Henry and sent over her thoughts, which was published on Pythom.

“How many of you can honestly say you’ve had an ultimate dream or an idea and you’ve acted on it?” she asked.

[…] “No go getter, for me, comes bigger than Henry Worsley. A name, that I’ll be honest, wasn’t on my radar until earlier this week, for the most unfortunate of reasons.”

[…] “Henry dared to dream. He had something he was determined to achieve and set off with gusto in the hope he would become the first person to successfully undertake this challenge.”

“And what a challenge it would be. Henry covered over an incredible 900 miles in 69 days, in what would have been the most uncomfortable if not, unbearable conditions. With no one by his side.”

Ski Season’s End

Henry Worsley was the first to arrive at the Geographic South Pole, on January 2nd. He departed from Berkner Island. The solo skier carried on towards the bottom of the Shackleton Glacier, with the aim to complete the traverse unassisted (no resupplies), unsupported (no kites), but stopped after an accumulated distance of 800 nautical miles (1480 km), and was medical evacuated.

A side note: Some confusion exists in the community, because main stream media reported that Henry was only “30 miles” or “50 km” short of his goal. Before he started his expedition, Henry told Explorersweb he estimated it would be a total distance of 1100 nautical miles in a straight line, according to the waypoints he had. Explorersweb/Pythom is investigating and waiting for exact locations and distances, but it seems the media probably refers to the head of the Shackleton Glacier.

RGS Expedition with Henry’s painting (see 2nd picture above), click here for RGS details.

30-year-old Luke Robertson completed the Hercules Inlet route after 40 days, on January 13th. He was solo, unassisted unsupported.

Devon McDiarmid (Canada, ANI Guide), Stew Edge (UK), Mostafa Salameh (Jordan) and Shahrom Abdullah (Malaysia) arrived at the Geographic South Pole on Friday, January 15, from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner Route). They were 38 days on the route. Devon and Stew picked up kites, new sleds and food and kited North to Hercules Inlet. They finished on January 26.

Unless a ghost skier pops up like last year, an unusual traumatic ski season ends on Antarctica, with 5 evacuations and the subsequent death of experienced and respected skier, Henry Worsley.


Still to depart, February 2016: Snowsailer to the South Pole

Henry Worsley: Memories and Lessons

South Pole ski update: Kiters complete crossing

Note: Definitions above according to

assisted = resupplies

supported = kite/car/skidoo support


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.

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