“While it is a risk, that is part of the appeal”, Bob Maxwell to sail and skidoo to the South Pole

Posted: Nov 12, 2014 11:20 am EST


(By Correne Coetzer) Bob Maxwell sent over news from New Zealand that he is putting together a 3-person team to drive from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf to the Geographic South Pole and back by snowmobile. 


In December 2015, they plan to sail from New Zealand to the Ross Ice Shelf, then set out on snowmobiles towing sleds to the South Pole via the Leverett Glacier and back, where the boat will be waiting to take them back to New Zealand.


The route to the South Pole has been established over many years of overland expeditions, and it is expected that the 1600 km journey to the Pole will take no longer than 12 days each way, Bob explains. "This part of the journey will venture from sea level up 10,000 feet to the Antarctic Plateau, experiencing temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius, constant gales and the threat of altitude sickness.” 

"The goals of this Expedition are to promote adventurous activities, provide a positive role model for youth and bring attention to the need for conservation of this last pristine continent.”


ExWeb wanted to know who will be responsible for evacuation on land if needed, "I will be contracting ANI/ALE for evacuation and insurance. The ship still has to be finalised as it is still a long way out," replied Bob. 


He added, ”While snow mobiles can go very fast I will be going about 25-50km per hour as will be towing gear, fuel and avoiding crevasses…"


"I had a permit with the New Zealand government to do a similar trip two years ago so will re-apply with the changes,” Bob answered when asked what permit is needed to do this.


Beserk tragedy and The Spirit of Adventure


In February 2011 the yacht Berserk and three sailors went missing. At the time, Skipper Jarle Andhøy and a crew member were on the ice with ATVs, with which they planned to drive to ”he South Pole.


Andhøy got massive criticism from around the world. One was Skip Novak, former round the world sailor, with 24 years of experience from sailing in Antarctica, who said to ExplorersWeb the Ross Sea is not safe at any time of year for small yachts.


Were they "foolhardy self proclaimed Vikings”, or is this what the Spirit of Adventure is, to take risks?


In the light of his sailing and skidoo expedition to the South Pole, Explorersweb wants to know from Bob Maxwell, if he remembers the tragedy and what his take is on that.  


"Yes, I know a bit about that story and his trip, etc."


"My take on it all is that his boat was hit with a huge storm that was not safe for a big ship (the New Zealand Naval frigate turned back due to the weather, while heading to their rescue). "


"One big problem is the lack of a safe harbor for boats around Ross Island. In saying that there are many trips to the Ross Sea in small yachts every year that go well (Spirit of Sydney, etc. run trips there). Yes, it is a risk, but sitting at home in front of the television does not hold much appeal to me.”


"The bases in Antarctica want to keep it to themselves and their researchers, which annoys me being a social scientist (I have a PhD in outdoor recreation and motivation). They prefer researchers who like to drill in the ice, developing drilling technology to also drill for oil one the price point makes pulling out the huge oil reserves in Antarctica worth it!"


“As for my trip, I am taking advise on what yacht to take from people who have been there, and while it is a risk, that is part of the appeal. That it won't be easy is the whole point!"


Biography courtesy of Bob Maxwell’s website:


Dr Bob Maxwell has over 25 years’ experience in the outdoors as an outdoor instructor (including 10 years with Outward Bound in various countries), leading groups all over the world in numerous activities, including; mountaineering, skiing, cross country skiing and winter Arctic travel, including snow mobiling in Northern Canada and Norway. Bob currently teaches first aid for Red Cross New Zealand, is an Expedition Leader for World Challenge and holds Pre Hospital Emergency Care qualifications. He has travelled to Antarctica twice previously, once with Duncan Chisnell Expeditions (DCXP) sailing to the Antarctic Peninsular on a mountaineering expedition in 2005, then in 2011 travelled to Scott Base as part of the Post Graduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies at the University of Canterbury, that included camping on the Ross Ice Shelf and Antarctica New Zealand field training at Scott Base.


Bob has a PhD in outdoor education (motivational interventions in the outdoors), a Diploma in Outdoor leadership as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies from Canterbury University, he specialises in motivation, unemployment and the outdoors. He will be furthering his research on this trip investigating the motivation of Antarctic Adventures, and presenting the results of this expedition upon his return to New Zealand. Bob is passionate about Antarctica and its environmental protection, and is a member of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust; he wishes to use his skills on this expedition to increase the knowledge about Antarctica and the people that travel to the continent.


Previous Related


Bob Maxwell's website


Berserk tragedy: Interview with Jarle Andhøy


Antarctica news bits


2014-15 South Pole expedition list - Updated










"One big problem is the lack of a safe harbor for boats around Ross Island."
courtesy Bob Maxwell, SOURCE
"[The science bases] prefer researchers who like to drill in the ice, developing drilling technology to also drill for oil one the price point makes pulling out the huge oil reserves in Antarctica worth it!"
courtesy Bob Maxwell, SOURCE
Antarctica ski and kite routes.
courtesy Map compiled by ExplorersWeb, SOURCE