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Cars on Antarctica

Posted: Dec 11, 2013 03:45 pm EST


(Correne Coetzer) The 2013-14 season is a busy one for Arctic Trucks. The Icelandic vehicles are assisting several teams on Antarctica. Custom made cars with Icelandic drivers/mechanics drive skiers and a cyclist to start points and drive along as they travel along their routes. 


Prince Harry and the Walking With The Wounded teams, who started at 87ºS, decided not to race to the South Pole anymore. At the Leverett Glacier start point, more or less at 85ºS, Doug Stoup and Parker Liautaud started skiing. Maria Leijerstam and her tricycle, who also starts from Leverett, leave for Antarctica today. And a team of men are doing a return crossing by car.


Expeditions 7


The Expeditions 7 team aim to be the first expedition to drive through all the 7 continents. They use Toyota vehicles in all the 7 parts of the expedition. Antarctica is their 6th continent, with  only South America to be covered.


The team left with their Arctic Trucks vehicles from Novo on November 30, reported Arctic Trucks. Crossing the ice via the Geographic South Pole, they reportedly reached the Amundsen Sea at the bottom of the Leverett Glacier on December 7. Gisli Karel reported on Dec. 9th, “We rested overnight with the Willis team [Doug and Parker] and yesterday we started our drive back to Novo.  Our car has a broken coil spring so we have to drive a little more carefully.  Never the less we reached the South Pole in less than 24 hours, from the Ross Ice Shelf. On the way to the South Pole we met two oil convoys, one coming from the South Pole and the other on the way there.  They had made a pretty good track for us to drive on, so we were able to drive up to 60 km. pr. hour some part of the way.”


Thereafter the team met up with the Walking With The Wounded group as well.


Walking With The Wounded


Ski teams that are dropped off at the last three degrees, last two degrees or last degree of latitude to the South Pole don’t have time to acclimatize to the altitude or the cold. Altitude here is already approx. 3000 meters above sea level (plus adding an extra 1000 meter because of the proximity of the Pole) and temperatures are -20ºC to -30ºC to kick off with. 


The three WWTW teams have to face these circumstances, on top their special needs because of their war wounds. Several of the skiers need medical attention. Therefore they have decided to de-emphasis the race component. Eric Phillips, who himself has suffered from fluid in his lungs and had to rest and recover, explained, “Due to the difficulty of conditions - altitude, cold and relentless sastrugi - we have decided to de-emphasize the race component and ski forward as three autonomous teams but aiming for the same waypoint each evening.”


The united team camped at around 63 km from the South Pole yesterday, after covering 17km during the day, they report. They aim to reach 90ºS by the end of the week.


In the latest video report, Kate Philp talks about how she has been dealing with her injury during the expedition, “For me personally being a below knee amputee I found that skiing is quite easy on the leg, easier than walking. But what I have to be careful of is every night cleaning the leg, cleaning and checking for any wounds, any abrasions…”


Doug Stoup and Parker Liautaud


Doug and Parker drove with car driver, Eyjólfur Már Teitsson (Iceland), cameraman, Paddy Scott (UK) and Nathan Hambrook-Skinner (comms operator) from Union Glacier via the South Pole to the start point at the Leverett Glacier.


Nathan Hambrook-Skinner reported that in less than 7 days they covered 1,790 km via the South Pole, burning roughly 1200 liters of fuel in the process.

Doug (guide) and Parker started skiing on December 6. Although their support car team is carrying their huge amount of communication, film and camera equipment, Parker said each one of them is pulling “180 lb or so” (82 kg). 


The team says their aim is to break the “24 day speed record”. The “24 day speed record” they refer to here, is the official speed ski record set by solo skier Christian Eide in 2010-11, over 1130 km, a distance nearly double the length what Doug and Parker are attempting. [Compare running a half marathon to set a faster time than the marathon record.] Eide also didn’t have the luxury of a support team doing his comms and camerawork, saving energy for skiing, or car tracks to follow, saving energy on navigation.  


Maria Leijerstam


Cyclist Maria has arrived in Cape Town where she will get ACLI’s Ilyushin-76 to Novo Base today. From there she plans to fly to the South Pole, where an Arctic Trucks car will take her to the bottom of the Leverett Glacier. The car will drive with, back to the SP, carrying her cameraman and film equipment. 


In her latest press release, Maria says she is “determined to beat the competition for [the world title for cycling to the South Pole from the edge of the continent], Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados and American Daniel Burton. Even though they have set off two weeks prior to Maria, Maria's cycle choice, route choice and expedition planning means her journey could be achieved by January 7.”


Note that, although Juan and Daniel have already set off, their route from Hercules Inlet, 1130 km, is nearly double Maria’s route.


Maria reported that the total weight of her gear taken to Antarctica is 120 kg, but she will only carry 47 kg with her tricycle from the Leverett start. Initially she planned to pack all the 47 kg in panniers, but reported today that she will test dragging a sled at Novo.


Follow daily South Pole blog updates with RSS feeds in the News Stream on ExplorersWeb and the Pythom app. 


2013 South Pole teams


Unassisted, unsupported:


Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere, UK, UK/FR, Cape Evans return journey

Richard Parks, UK, Hercules Inlet, solo

Vesa Luomala, FI, Hercules Inlet, solo

Antony Jinman, UK, Hercules Inlet, solo

Marty and Chris Fagan, USA, Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf start

Juan Menendez Granados, ES, Hercules Inlet, solo cycle


Unassisted, Supported (traverse):


Geoff Wilson, AU, Novo Runway - GSP - Hercules Inlet

Faysal Hanneche, FR, Novo Runway - GSP - Hercules Inlet


Assisted, Unsupported


Daniel Burton, USA, Hercules Inlet, cycle

Carl Alvey (ANI guide) and Lewis Clarke, UK, Hercules Inlet

Devon McDiarmid (CA, ANI guide), Joshua Hodgkinson (AU), Arabella Slinger (UK), and Wen Yuan (China), Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf


Assisted, Supported


Leverett Glacier start: Doug Stoup (US, guide), Parker Liautaud (UK), car driver, Eyjólfur Már Teitsson (Iceland), cameraman, Paddy Scott (UK) and Nathan Hambrook-Skinner (comms operator). Leverett Glacier


Leverett Glacier start: Maria Leijerstam (UK, Welch, tricycle) plus car driver and cameraman.


Partial route:


Walking With The Wounded, last three degrees from Novo side (guides, Eric Philips, Inge Solheim and Conrad Dickinson. Three teams racing to the Pole. Price Harry with them.) Arctic trucks support team: Emil Grímsson, Pálmi Baldursson,Torfi Jóhannsson and Ari Hauksson.




Australian Mawson Centenary Expedition Spirit of Mawson website

AAE 2013-2014 Interpret Science website


Expeditions 7 Novo - GSP - Leverett Glacier return drive: Gísli Karel Elísson (Iceland), plus expedition team


Arctic Trucks


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


Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S near Union Glacier, 1130 km from the Geographic South Pole.

The bottom of the Leverett Glacier, at the Ross Ice Shelf, is located at about 85ºS, a distance of 550 km from the Geographic South Pole.

The Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) start is 890 km in a straight line from the Pole.


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.


South Pole of Inaccessibility 2011-12 position: 

S82°06.696, E055°01.951

Geographic South Pole: 90 degrees South


A "solo" ski requires an unassisted status (therefore no supplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything received from any person).




Gamme and team to climb, jump and ski in Dronning Maud Land


The Cycle Race for the South Pole kicked off


South Pole speed attempt to restart; Kiters in trouble with kites


Antony Jinman with two drones to the South Pole, ExWeb interview


Maria Leijerstam in the Cycle Race for the South Pole


South Pole ski update: Geoff Wilson through crevasse minefields; Waiting game in Punta Arenas


Carl Alvey to guide 16-year-old Lewis Clarke to the South Pole: ExWeb interview


China’s growing presence in Antarctica


ExWeb interview with Lewis Clarke (16): to ski 1130 km Hercules Inlet route 


Novo kite-skiers on Antarctica - Updated


ExWeb interview with Richard Parks, "it took pretty much every bit of physical and mental energy" 


ExWeb interview with Vesa Luomala, "there is no room for underestimating a place like Antarctica"


ExWeb South Pole 2013 interview with Geoff Wilson, "my mind I feel will be the greatest maze of all"


Marty and Chris Fagan, married outdoor team for the past 15 years. ExWeb South Pole interview 


South Pole 2013-14: Doug Stoup and Parker Liautaud for Leverett Glacier route


Cycle South Pole update: testing and innovation


ExWeb interview with Juan Menendez Granados: the greatest challenge


Australian Mawson Centenary Expedition update


ExWeb South Pole 2013 interview with Geoff Wilson, "my mind I feel will be the greatest maze of all"


ExWeb South Pole kick-off interview: Daniel Burton, return cycle journey


ExWeb interview with Eric Philips, three decades of polar experience


Breaking news: Christian Eide bags the South Pole solo speed ski world record


AdventureStats and Rules of Adventure


Adventure Network International (ANI) / ALE

Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI) / TAC


#polar #southpole2013  #southpole2013-14  #antarctica #arctictrucks 





The Walking With The Wounded film crew at work.
courtesy Arctic Trucks, SOURCE
Emil from the WWTW support team on Dec. 7: "The cars were heavily loaded and each car needed to drive this route twice."
courtesy Arctic Trucks, SOURCE
Doug Stoup and Parker Liautaud's car, with their comms and film gear.
courtesy Arctic Trucks / Paddy Scott, SOURCE
Doug (guide) and Parker following the car tracks on their route to the South Pole (click to enlarge).
courtesy Willis Resilience Expedition, SOURCE
Expeditions 7's car unloaded from the Ilyushin-76 at Novo Base.
courtesy Arctic Trucks, SOURCE
Arctic Trucks supporting ski/bike/car teams all over Antarctica; Novo Base, Union Glacier, Leverett Glacier.
courtesy Arctic Trucks, SOURCE