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Alternative routes to Antarctica: ExWeb's interview with Rune Gjeldnes

Posted: Nov 07, 2007 06:04 am EST

(ThePoles.com) Yesterday, Doug Stoup said that he had planned to get his last degree clients in to Antarctica through ALE but they were not able to provide the logistics for him.

"So I called Victor Serov at ALCI," Doug said. "I have worked with Victor and Alexi before and know they are fantastic to work with. We have back up and insurance in place. No different from ANI." <cutoff>

<b>Norwegian pioneer going his own way, all the way</b>

Although most still use the services of ALE/ANI; there are alternative approaches to the ice. One who knows, is Rune Gjeldnes. Like Doug and other 'off the beaten track' explorers, he used ALCI to Antarctica - but also a boat out on the opposite side! ExWeb caught up with the polar legend to check how it panned out.

<b>ExWeb:</b> You started at the coast and left from the coast. With whom did you fly in?

<b>Rune:</b> "I flew with ALCI (Antarctic Logistic Centre International) after I read the articles on ExplorersWeb."

<b>ExWeb:</b> Was the SA approach cheaper? (How much?)

<b>Rune:</b> "Definitely cheaper on the flight in. I think I paid 12,000 EUR (USD $14,000 in 2005 currency, ed note). The price included a return ticket - which of course I never used."

<b>ExWeb:</b> Why did you choose this company?

<b>Rune:</b> "I was looking for an alternative, affordable and safe transportation to Queen Mauds Land. By safe I mean a transport that would happen."

<b>ExWeb:</b> Would you recommend them?

<b>Rune:</b> "I would definitely recommend them. Top end service and very kind people at every stage."

<b>ExWeb:</b> What was the advantage? Drawbacks?

<b>Rune:</b> "Everything was an advantage. Absolutely no drawbacks."

<b>ExWeb:</b> Were there any glitches (insurance, safety and such)?

<b>Rune:</b> "There always arearen't there? As for safety, I paid the Russians for an Emergency Fuel depot for the aircraft (in case something happened). Even so the price was good.

<b>ExWeb:</b> You took a ship out. Who did you go with?

<b>Rune:</b> "Got good service from the Heritage Expedition (NZL)"

<b>ExWeb:</b> How much was the boat out?

<b>Rune:</b> "I think I paid 12000 US dollars."

<b>ExWeb:</b> How hard was the approach to the shore, in terms of open water?

<b>Rune:</b> "It was late in the season, so it was an exciting morning for Aina (Runes girlfriend, ed note) and the boat Captain. There were some ice belts further out but it got OK closer to the shore. Terra Nova is a good place for boats, but not a good place for an explorer to reach at all :)"

<b>ExWeb:</b> "Do you think this transportation is an alternative for explorers who want to find a cheaper way to do a polar expedition?"

<b>Rune:</b> "Boat is certainly much cheaper, but definitely has its drawbacks. The sailing starts late, and doesn't go to the areas where we want to start from. Or they can be unable to reach our desired starting point. Boats can be used as a pick-up platform - but only at certain points."

<i>Rune Gjeldnes had never even been to the South Pole, yet his plan was grand. He would cross the entire continent sea to sea, and try to beat all previous unsupported ski-kiting distance records there. He dubbed his expedition <b>The Longest March.</b>

Rune set off from northern Antarctica (Novolazarevskaya base, Queen Mauds Land) on November 5, 2005 and headed south. He kited across the ice in speeds up to 200km on some days. In his tent, he did daily dispatches and published drawings on the farm he hoped to buy with his girlfriend when he returned home from Antarctica.

After 45 days, on December 20 2005, Rune reached the Geographical South Pole at 12.46 GMT. He had covered 2200 km alone and without resupplies. Ahead - 2400 km more to the coast.

He celebrated Christmas decorating his tent, lighting a lone cigar and listening to the only song he had brought along - 'White Christmas'.

The polar cross-continent ski trip continued. Rune turned east towards Terra Nova Bay, looking to avoid the Trans Antarctic Mountains, where winds were less stable and the risk of crevasses was greater. On January 3rd, Rune first grabbed Børge Ousland's solo record and on January 10, he broke the world record for the longest kite-trek without resupplies at Antarctica.

In fact, Rune began breaking world records on a weekly basis but now increasing moisture in the air announced that he was getting closer to the coast - with its glaciers and crevasses.

January 24, Rune was literally walking on the edge, he had to cross a snow river in the middle of the Priestley Glacier to get away from all the crevasses. On January 28th, the last Ilyushin plane left the airstrip at Patriot Hills bound for Punta Arenas, Chile - marking the end of the Antarctic expedition season.

Rune was still on the ice. Fighting the last steps of his grand solo traverse of Antarctica, Rune could almost touch success. To reach the finish line at Terra Nova Base however, first he had to find a pass across a mountain - a last minute challenge for the exhausted explorer.

On February 03, 2006 - the message came: "It's a new page in Polar History: Norwegian Rune Gjeldnes has reached Terra Nova Base today at 2:00 CET. The longest Antarctic polar march ever without resupplies!"

Rune had finished The longest March - a 4804 km (2988 miles) solo kite ride across Antarctica. The distance (Los Angeles to New York plus 200 miles), was done in 90 days, without resupplies.

Rune beat the previous record of the longest Antarctic trek without resupplies by more than 1000 km (600 miles) - or the distance between Detroit and New York. And he also beat his own schedule, completing the crossing 20 days sooner than he expected.

With his victory, Rune Gjeldnes became the only person to have traversed both polar ice caps without resupplies. </i>

#Polar #feature

Image of a sailing ship nearing the Antarctic Peninsula, courtesy of the Spirit of Sydney (click to enlarge).
Boats to Antarctica are fairly easy to hire, but be prepared for some bumpy sailing. Soon after her solo, unsupported and speed record breaking SP trip, Hannah kicked off her "Blizzard expeditions" - charter cruises in the southern ocean. Images of Hannah on the Pole and the Blizzard&#039;s deck, over Contact 4.0, courtesy of Hannah McKeand (click to enlarge).
Hannah and David are currently sailing their first full season with Blizzard - from Australia across to Chile and from there around Cape Horn and down to Antarctica. Photo by Jason Whiting.
Passengers step off an Ilyushin aircraft in Queen Maud Land, northern Antarctica. Image courtesy of ALCI (click to enlarge).
Rune celebrated Christmas decorating his tent, lighting a lone cigar and listening to the only song he had brought along - &#039;White Christmas&#039; (click to enlarge).
Rune&#039;s last image sent live over Contact 3.0, on Saturday, January 28th 2006. One day later, his digital camera fell in a crevasse (click to enlarge).
He made it look easy - but when Rune finished his long march - a 4804 km (2988 miles) solo kite ride across Antarctica, he beat the previous record of the longest Antarctic trek without resupplies by more than 1000 km (600 miles) - or the distance between Detroit and New York. With his victory, Rune Gjeldnes became the only person to have traversed both polar ice caps without resupplies (click to enlarge).
An amazing cofee-table book has just been released about Rune&#039;s Antarctica crossing with a huge number of stunning images, stories, gear lists and other unique details. Order it from Rune&#039;s website (links section).