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Ran Fiennes winter South Pole ski: ship setting sail

Posted: Dec 06, 2012 08:41 am EST

(Newsdesk) The polar ship, SA Agulhas, is due to set sail down the River Thames at 3.15 pm. London time (3.15 pm GMT) on Thursday, December 6th for Antarctica, marking the start of Ranulph Fiennes' attempt to do the first winter South Pole ski.

According to The Coldest Journey website, "the SA Agulhas will be carrying on-board more than 100 tonnes of expedition equipment required for the journey, as well as key expedition members required for this initial leg of the journey, including our Expedition Co-Leader and Marine Advisor, Anton Bowring."

SA Agulhas will sail via Cape Town, South Africa, to Antarctica. The trek on Antarctica will start from the Russian Antarctic science base, Novolazareskaya (70°46'26"S, 11°51'54"E) on March 21st, 2013 (the time of the equinox and start of the Antarctic winter/night).

The two skiers, support team and the two bulldozers with caboose will be heading to the Geographic South Pole (90°S) and continue to Captain Scott's base (77°38′S, 166°24′0W) at McMurdo Sound where the ship will pick them up. According to them they will cover a distance of 3200 km (2000 miles). They plan to end the journey before the equinox on September 23, 2013, which marks the end of the Antarctic winter/night.

Video below: The icebreaker, SA Agulhas, comes up the River Thames. Loading the boat was finished on December 3rd just in time to catch the tide.



Video: Ran Fiennes on the reason for this winter journey: "The Norwegians"



The summer South Pole ski season stretches from the end of October to the end of January; the time when airplanes fly on Antarctica. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth, -89,2 °C (-128 °F), was recorded at the Russian science station, Vostok, July 21st, 1983. Vostok is located at 78°27′51.92″S 106°50′14.38″E.

At the Geographic South Pole, 90°S, the sun disappears below the horizon for the polar night/winter at around the March equinox, March 20th, only to appear again above the horizon, around the September equinox, September 22nd.

A winter South Pole expedition has never been attempted before. Twice a winter North Pole ski and swim has been done. Both expeditions departed from Russia (Cape Arktichesky, a distance of 980 km in a straight line).

In 2006 the Norwegian and South African duo, Børge Ousland and Mike Horn, attempted the North Pole in Winter, unassisted, unsupported; starting January 22 and arrived at the North Pole March 23; after 61 days on the ice and only two days after sunrise. They pulled all their food, fuel and gear with them from the start.

The Russians, Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin, started their expedition on December 22, 2007, the day of winter solstice, from the Arktichesky Cape – the northern point of the Zevernaya Zemlya Archipelago. They reached the NP on March 14, 2008, after 84 days of traveling and one week before the beginning of the polar day. They received one food, fuel and gear resupply by air.


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The Race for the South Pole continues: Ranulph Fiennes to attempt winter South Pole ski crossing

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The SA Agulhas on the River Thames.
courtesy The Coldest Journey, SOURCE
Fuel barrels loaded on the SA Agulhas.
courtesy The Coldest Journey, SOURCE
Final preparations being made to one of the two Cat D6Ns before loading onto the ship
courtesy The Coldest Journey, SOURCE
The Coldest Journey's Ice Team: (left to right) Richmond Dykes, Dr Rob Lambert, Ian Prickett, Ranulph Fiennes, Brian Newham and Spencer Smirl.
courtesy The Coldest Journey, SOURCE
Expedition Charity: Seeing is Believing http://seeingisbelieving.org.uk/
courtesy The Coldest Journey, SOURCE
Expedition route.
courtesy The Coldest Journey, SOURCE
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