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

Posted: Nov 25, 2013 12:25 pm EST


(By Correne Coetzer) After a stormy start out of Novolazarevskaya, navigating and tapping ice in “minefield” crevassed areas, relaying sleds while manhauling windless steep sections, Geoff Wilson reported to have passed the last mountains and glaciers to the polar plateau. “An AMAZING feeling as I changed the GPS to guide me directly to the South Pole,” he wrote in his blog.


In Punta Arenas the majority of the skiers are waiting for better weather at Union Glacier to give the ALE Ilyushin-76 a chance to fly in. Before the skiers can fly in, a cargo flight is scheduled to get in first.


Novo kites skiers


On November 22, Geoff Wilson described traveling through crevasse fields, “The direct line was less than five kays, but it was like a chess game with the ice as crevasses cut through the path continually, forcing me to drag long detours to get to a safe crossing.”


“After initial dislike and memories of Saharan minefields, I began to enjoy the game and found many creative ways out of dead ends. I honestly felt all my steps were being guided through – a calm feeling in an otherwise dangerous area.” One of Geoff’s previous expeditions was a crossing of the Sahara. Before the SP expedition, he told ExplorersWeb his aim is to cross all the deserts of the world. 


Geoff reported that fellow Novo kite skier, Faysal Hanneche, had called for a lift up the plateau on November 23 as he was worried about time.  “The Frenchman was significantly far behind, and had had stove issues, but he opted for a vehicle Arctic Truck lift to the plateau. I know this will make him really disappointed as he was desperate to do the full crossing.  But being the first man to both the North and South Pole in the same calendar year is his primary goal.” 


[Ed note: With his North Pole expedition, Faysal did not start from land (Canada, Russia, etc.), as required by the Rules of Adventure at AdventureStats, to claim a record or a first. He reportedly started 400 km from the NP, that is less than 4 degrees of latitude. Therefor he cannot claim “the first man/person to both the North and South Pole in the same calendar year”, as also reported in main stream media.]


Geoff added, “To do this [full crossing], he’s jumped to the plateau to ensure he gets to the South Pole before the 31st of December. I can understand that decision. But personally, the terrible trials of the climb up the Somoveken Glacier; the storm, the deep snow, the steep ascents with sled at its heaviest, the gradual altitude acclimatization, the tears and joy of actually getting here…..I wouldn’t have missed it.  I feel like I belong here now and am ready for the run to the Pole – 1992 kilometers away!”


Novolazarevskaya (Novo)


The three Walking With The Wounded teams, among them Prince Harry, Eric Philips and Inge Solheim, flew in to Novo Base with ACLI’s Ilyushin-76. They planned 3 days of preparation there, but are snowed in, Eric Philips reported. Their support vehicles with Conrad Dickinson, their film team and gear are already within a day of 87ºS where they begin their race to the South Pole. 


Flying out on the Ilyushin from Novo to Cape Town, was the British team that over-wintered on Antarctica after aborting their crossing attempt,  Brian Newham, Richmond Dykes, Rob Lambert, Ian Prickett, and Spencer Smirl. Read more about their experience here


In Punta Arenas


Finnish solo skier, Vesa Luomala, solo Brit, Antony Jinman, Marty and Chris Fagan, Carl Avery and Lewis Clarke, Devon McDiarmid, with Joshua Hodgkinson, Arabella Slinger and Wen Yuan, Doug Stoup with Parker Liautaud and car driver, Eyjólfur Már Teitsson, and cyclists Daniel Burton and Juan Menendez Granados, are practicing patience in Punta Arenas, waiting for better weather on Antarctica.


Union Glacier and Ross Ice Shelf


Latest from Richard Parks on November 18th, is that he is still waiting out the bad weather at Union Glacier, to fly to his start point at Hercules Inlet.


Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere 

Stats Day 31, November 24th:

Day 31: S81° 29' 42.18", E168° 58' 29.7"

8 hours 30 min, 14.1 statute miles

Temperature: -11°C Wind chill: -21°C

Altitude: 151 ft


Follow daily South Pole blog updates 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:


Geoff Wilson, AU, Novo Runway start

Faysal Hanneche, FR, Novo Runway start


Assisted, Unsupported


Daniel Burton, USA, Hercules Inlet, cycle

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

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


Assisted, Supported


Doug Stoup (US, guide), Parker Liautaud (UK) and car driver, Eyjólfur Már Teitsson (Iceland)


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


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.


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).




ANI/ALE’s Punta Arenas office


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"


Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955-58: Weekend video viewing


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


AdventureStats and Polar Rules


Adventure Network International (ANI) / ALE

Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI) / TAC


#polar #southpole2013  #southpole2013-14  #antarctica




Geoff Wilson, Nov 25: "The terrible trials of the climb up the Somoveken Glacier; the storm, the deep snow, the steep ascents with sled at its heaviest, the gradual altitude acclimatisation, the tears and joy of actually getting here…..I wouldn’t have missed it.  I feel like I belong here now and am ready for the run to the Pole."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
"Today was proof that a bad start doesn’t mean a bad day is coming!" Geoff said on Nov. 25, after hauling 3km in 3 hours, but then favorable winds took him onto the open plateau.
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Geoff Wilson: "In this pic I'm on the edge of a ten foot wide crevasse. You can see how easily the edge is seen in good visibility, but woe to some=one who enters here in a whiteout like earlier this morning [Nov.21].]
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Geoff Wilson: "Another steep climb after the crevasse field and then visibility and contrast declined to a point where I couldn’t be sure to recognise the mild snow difference over crevasses."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Geoff, Nov. 23: "For the first time in three nights I'm sleeping on snow not blue ice, much more comfortable as I have confidence in the snow pegs holding me to the ice. I have only two ice screws and the tent didn't feel secure at all on the blue ice. There is another blow on the way so I've paid extra attention to setting the tent tonight, extra snow on the snow flaps and boobsled lashed down."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Geoff: "[I] washed my undies for the first time in nearly two weeks preluded by a dance in the snow for wind!"
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE
Geoff Nov. 24: "the snow is falling on the tent again now and wind is building. I'm one or two days from the plateau (wind allowing), and although it's been inordinately tough storms, deep snow, unfavourable winds, covered crevasses, it has tempered me for the hardships to come and yet I'm arriving in not too bad shape."
courtesy Geoff Wilson, SOURCE