Ghost skier? No trace of Martin Szwed's claimed South Pole speed record

Posted: Feb 12, 2015 02:12 pm EST


(Newsdesk) Some days ago Explorersweb received word about Martin Szwed, claiming to German media and his sponsors that he recently broke the current 24 days 1 hour 13 minutes solo speed ski record, set over 1130 km on the classic Hercules Inlet route to the South Pole.


According to different news sources, he skied either 1192km or 1280 km or 1300km, in "14 days” to the South Pole. Szwed gives his precise time as 14 days 18 hours 43 minutes.


Explorersweb contacted the German adventurer for verification and checked his story with official Antarctica sources. Szwed has yet to reply while no records or eye witnesses have been able to confirm the adventurer's skiing trip.


Mt Vinson climb


According to information available to Explorersweb, Szwed’s plan was to climb Mt Vinson, the highest mountain on Antarctica, and then leave the continent to fly to Cape Town, South Africa, from where he would again fly to Antarctica, and with “Russian and Norwegian support" attempt this speed ski record. 


Szwed did climb Vinson as confirmed to Exweb by ANI/ALE, the logistics operator operating from Chile. "We supported him as a guest of AMICAL alpin GmbH & Co. KG on Vinson this season,” Leslie Wicks, ANI Marketing & Sales Specialist said. 


"Martin was on the 4th departure and was covered by our US authority to operate for the duration of his Mount Vinson itinerary. This had been cleared with Umweltbundesamt / Federal Environment Agency Germany as Szwed is a German citizen. He flew with us to Union Glacier on December 30 and returned to Chile on January 9."


Speed Ski expedition


The original speed record took off at Hercules Inlet. If starting at this point (Szwed does not offer this detail) the quest itself involves herculean daily stretches. Szwed says he started with a sled weighing 116kg and covered 55 km the first day and gives 112,58 km as his longest daily distance. 


Tom Sjogren of AdventureStats, who himself skied the 1130km Hercules route without assistance, told Explorersweb, "It's the equivalent of two marathons a day for 14 days straight pulling a loaded sledge. I would say this is remarkable if not humanly impossible."


According to news reports Szwed had three depots along the way. If these “depots" were containing resupplies, it automatically cancels his "solo" claim, according to the Rules of Adventure.


Checking with Antarctica logistics ANI/ALE, the outfitter told Explorersweb, "Based on our contact with other operators and German officials, we have received no indication that the expedition took place. Umweltbundesamt / Federal Environment Agency Germany did not issue a ski expedition permit for him to go the South Pole and TAC [the logistics operator in Cape Town] did not provide him transportation following his Vinson ascent."


During the ski season in Antarctic summer, the management at the US South Pole Station, know about each and every skier arriving at the South Pole in front of their station building. The NSF (National Science Foundation) said no one in the Pole staff had seen or heard of Mr Szwed,  and "no one has arrived since ALE pulled out nearly 3 weeks ago."


Until Szwed or anyone else (such as officials or individuals from his stated “Russian and Norwegian support") can verify his claims and provide exact details regarding start point, start date, end date and more, Adventurestats will not recognize this record.  


Union Glacier is ANI/ALE’s base camp on Antarctica at 79° 45'S, 083° 14’W and accessed from Punta Arenas, Chile, South America.


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


According to the Rules of Adventure, to claim a “solo" achievement, requires an unassisted status - therefore no supplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything (food, fuel, etc) received from any person along the way. A solo person may be wind supported (kites/sails). The polar rules are guidelines set by early polar explorers, compiled by Adventurestats and maintained today by the current veteran community of polar skiers.


Start/End Point According to the Rules:

Below refer to overland or oversea North Pole or South Pole expeditions.

Travel to the South/North Pole

The start point has to be from the boundary between land and water - the coast line. Permanent ice is considered part of the ocean, not the land.

If the coast line is not obvious due to permanent ice, the start point should be according to mapped outline of the coast.

Partial travel to the South/North Pole

Any start point that is not at the edge of the continental land mass, but at least 1 degree from the Pole itself. This covers "Last Degree" Expeditions as well as Patriot Hill starting point





AdventureStats and Rules of Adventure


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


Antarctic ski wrap-up: More about Christian Eides world record


Adventure Network International (ANI and ALE)


Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI and TAC)


ExWeb interview with Lars Ebbesen: Christian Eide's South Pole speed ski strategy


Martin Szwed’s pages and related news sources


Szwed’s website


Szwed’s Outdoor Recreation Facebook [removed Feb. 13, 2015]


Szwed’s personal Facebook












A photo of Szwed published in the media, after reportedly climbing Vinson and skiing 1300km to the South Pole. The yellow SP sign in this image is along the way to the visitor's camping area. (Click to expand)
courtesy Martin Szwed, SOURCE
Szwed at Antarctica posted February 5, 2015 on his Facebook. Probably the mountains around Vinson. (click to expand)
courtesy Martin Szwed, SOURCE
At Antarctica according to his Facebook on February 5. (click to expand)
courtesy Martin Szwed, SOURCE
Walking and sledge-hauling
courtesy Martin Szwed, SOURCE
Antarctica ski and kite routes.
courtesy Map compiled by Explorersweb, SOURCE