Antarctic wrap-up: Chris Foot aborts his South Pole return journey and closes in on 90 degrees South

Posted: Jan 05, 2011 04:59 pm EST

(By Correne Coetzer) My attempt to become the first person to the South Pole and back from Hercules Inlet, solo, unsupported and unassisted will end today as I reach the Pole, wrote Chris Foot in the early morning hours of January 4. Brutal honesty tells me that it is impossible for me to complete this or even come close, he added. Chris is in his home run to the Pole.

Christian Eide skied his personal best distance, 47.2 km, and plan to increase on that. He crossed 86°S. Hannah McKeand and Willem ter Horst are in 88°S, battling through sastrugi.

Hercules Inlet return journey
Unassisted, unsupported

Chris Foot (UK) solo

While started travelling in 89°S Chris crossed the tracks of a last degree party. They had the same bearing as he and cut his own track in, as jumping in theirs could be an unsportsman like act.

He added about the Last Degree, The only drawback is the fact I am bagging all my bodily wastage into small bags.

Chris explained the reason for his decision to stop at the South Pole. As most are aware my start date of Nov. 9 was delayed till Nov. 25 meaning a planned 80 day return trip was condensed to 65 days.

A few individuals here including myself held onto to the notion that if I could get to the Pole in 40 days, which is a tremendous effort with a start weight of 130 kg plus making 4 caches enroute the stats would read this - 25 days to return so roughly 24nm a day. This is all dependent on my condition after a 40 day out trip.

My go-no-go criteria would be all about my speed from 88 degrees to the Pole. If I could crack 20nm in a realistic amount of hours per day, covering the last degree in 3 days then the potential was there to complete this return in 25 days. This did not happen and pushing harder or increasing hours would have debilitated the effort and compounded fatigue and recovery.

Other option, he added, is to continue and throw the flag in the ground when the time runs out [on January 28] so setting a benchmark? Why do that when I will be here next year attempting this again so a pointless exercise, causing more trauma to the body for little gain.

He says he is glad I went through with the whole return journey attempt, it is a great rehearsal and has given me solid information about myself and Antarctica for next year.

Position January 4, 01h29: 89.4412S, 064.2457W

Hercules Inlet start
Unassisted, unsupported

Christian Eide (Norway) solo

Christian has decided to increase his daily distances and the headwinds have also decided to increase their daily knots. The wind makes it tough, he says, and cold, especially in the short breaks between the skiing.

Christian says he has no injuries this far. He believes that he now benefits from the many days of methodical training and the 10 kg extra weight he put on before the expedition. He has some access food and is eating one and a half rations per day.

Position Jan 4: 86.3077S, 081.1583W
Distances: 47.2 km (25.5 nm) in 6 x 90 min, 47.2 km (25.5 nm) in 10 x 60 min

Stop press January 5: Christian sent over and email via Contact 5 to ExplorersWeb, saying he is resting (during his afternoon), waiting out the strong wind in his tent. When the wind decreases during the evening he will carry on skiing.

Hercules Inlet start
Assisted, Unsupported

Willem ter Horst (The Netherlands) with ANI guide Hannah McKeand (UK)

On January 3 they picked up their resupply at 88.0608S, 085.8966W, enough for 15 days, reported Willem. He stated that the terrain was terrible and at one stage, in low visibility, they managed 4.1 nm in 3h. I was pulling my heavy pulk through deep trenches and steep sastrugi with all my might. This was tougher than any soft sand uphill tire pulling I'd done in training.

At the end of the day, he said, Hannah managed to spot a fairly flat spot to make camp at, I had missed it and there aren't many flat bits out here. They travelled 13.7 nm.

Yesterday the team had no white-out for a change. But it was tough going with big and plentiful sastrugi and it felt as if they were going uphill all day, said Willem. Maybe the stiff south-easterly wind had something to do with that. The first five hours of the day were a struggle, after that I was tired, but the terrain began to ease a bit. They travelled 12.4 nm.

Hannah and Willem have decided to skip their rest day and head straight for the pole. We should get there in 7 or 8 days, depending if we travel like today or on our usual 14+nm a day pace.

Position Jan.4: 88.2774S, 085.7191W

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:
To ALCI/TAC base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo
(70° 4637S, 011° 4926E).
Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:
To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier
(79° 45'S, 083° 14'W).
Gateway port Punta Christchurch, New Zealand:
To US base McMurdo
(77°50'39"S, 166°40'22"E)

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


Hercules Inlet return journey
Unassisted, unsupported

Chris Foot (UK) website
Chris Foot (UK) daily updates

Hercules Inlet South Pole
Unassisted, unsupported

Christian Eide (Norway) website
Christian Eide Contact 5 site (map)

Hercules Inlet start
Assisted, Unsupported

Willem ter Horst (The Netherlands) with ANI guide Hannah McKeand (UK)
Willem ter Horst website
Willem ter Horst dispatches
Willem ter Horst Tweets

Indian Army with ANI guides Devon McDiarmid (Canada) and Svante Strand (Norway)
Team members: Anand Swaroop (leader), Bala Karthik, Arjun Kumar Thapa, Ram Singh, Khilap Singh, Tsewang Morup, Parsuram Gurung, Showkat Ahmad Mir

Other links:

CONTACT 5 expedition technology

Polar rules of Adventure
What is solo?
Hercules Inlet start point

Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)
The Antarctic Company (TAC/ALCI)


Christian Eide experiencing stronger headwinds.
Image by Christian Eide courtesy Latitude Expeditions (live over Contact 5), SOURCE
Christian ending the day after a personal best of skiing 47.2 km (25.5 nm) in 9 hours.
Image by Christian Eide courtesy Latitude Expeditions (live over Contact 5), SOURCE