First South Pole skiers on Antarctica

First South Pole skiers on Antarctica

Posted: Nov 09, 2014 05:40 pm EST

(By Correne Coetzer) Both the Ilyushins, one from Punta Arenas and the other Cape Town, took the first skiers to Antarctica and landed at Union Glacier and Novolazarevskaya respectively.


The trio, Norwegian Are Johansen and the French couple, Stéphanie and Jérémie Gicquel, have a planned 80-days skiing and sled-pulling ahead of them. They plan a traverse on the Messner Route via the Geographic South Pole (90º) to Hercules Inlet. The team will have resupplies. They flew in yesterday with ALE and landed 22h30 at UG, reports the couple.


French-Canadian, Frédéric Dion, has packed food for 65 days for his kite-ski expedition to the South Pole of Inaccessibility (2011-12 position: S82°06.696, E055°01.951). Fred told Exweb that the first 250 km could be a challenge pulling the 127 kg, plus the 10 kg on his back, if he does not get wind to get him onto the Plateau. Fred’s scheduled flight was for November 4th, but the weather grounded ALCI’s Ilyushin-76 till this morning when they took off.




Yesterday in Cape Town, Manon Ossevoort told Explorersweb that she would have liked to do a crossing with her tractor and exit to New Zealand, in memory of Edmund Hillary’s 1958 expedition that operated from New Zealand, but she couldn’t get permission from New Zealand to do so. The tractor team will drive back to Novolazarevskaya after reaching 90ºS. 


The plan during the trip is that the tractor keep moving 24 hours a day with the two drivers, Manon and Nicolas, the lead mechanic, doing day and night shifts. As this is a team effort, Manon explained, the other team members, Matty, Sarah and Simon will also get opportunities to do shorter shifts behind the wheel.  


Two men from Iceland in two Arctic Trucks, Arnór Ingólfsson and Jóhannes Guðmundsson will provide guidance and safety support. The plan is that one car will drive ahead and put up camp so that, after a 12-hour shift, the driver can sleep while the other driver takes over. The second car will support the tractor, but will not necessarily drive together. While traveling, only one person at a time can be in the tractor cabin. 


This morning upon arrival in Cape Town, Sarah McNair-Landry told Explorersweb that she will definitely be skiing at times, sometimes ahead of tractor to take photographs. In the 2004-05 Antarctic season, at age 18, Sarah became the youngest person to ski to the South Pole and did it unassisted, unsupported. At the Pole, Sarah and the team, including her mother Matty and brother Eric, picked up their kites and kited back to the coast, covering 2260 km. Last year, 16-year-old Lewis Clark broke Sarah’s age record.


Faysal Hanneche from France also arrived in Cape Town this morning. He plans a kite-ski traverse from Novo to Hercules inlet via the Geographic South Pole. Faysal is scheduled on the November 11 flight to Novo; the tractor also, but Manon, Matty , Sarah and Simon are scheduled for the 18th. 


Weather maps


Play around with the animated weather maps here.







Unassisted Supported

(no resupplies, wind-support)


Solo traverse Novo - GSP- Hercules Inlet

Faysal Hanneche (FR)


Solo, kite-ski Novo - South Pole of Inaccessibility

Frédéric Dion (CA)


Assisted Unsupported

(resupplies, no wind.vehicles)


Traverse Messner - GSP - Hercules Inlet

Stéphanie Gicquel(FR)

Jérémie Gicquel (FR) 

Are Johansen NO 


Newall Hunter (UK, Messner to GSP)


Adventure Consultants team

Hercules Inlet route

Einar Torfi Finnsson (IS, guide)

Hugh Dougall 

Bill Morrison

Tim Garrett


ANI Messner Route team 

Robert Smith (guide)

Paula J Reid (UK)

Arabella Slinger (UK)

Julian Thomas (UK)

Vincent Piguot (Switzerland)


PolarExplorers team

Messner route

Keith Heger (CA, guide) 

Ian Evans (CA) 

Andy Styles (UK) 

Bradley Cross (UK)


Assisted Supported


Return Journey

Tractor expedition (Novo - GSP - Novo)

Matty McNair (US, Expedition Lead Guide)

Manon Ossevoort (NL, Lead driver)

Sarah McNair-Landry (CA, Expedition Guide and Audio-Visual Support) 

Nicolas Bachelet (Lead Mechanic) 

Simon Foster (Creative Director and Audio-Visual Lead) 

Arnór Ingólfsson (Expedition Leader and Arctic Truck Driver 1)

Jóhannes Guðmundsson(Arctic Truck Driver 2)


Non-coastal start:

Outer Edge snow sailer (AU)

return journey

Polar Plateau South of Novo to GSP and possible return via POI to Novo Base

Kristan Ficher (leader)

Charles Werb

Adrian McCallum

Jon Moody



ExplorersWeb Interviews


Adventure Consultants team to ski Hercules Inlet route to the South Pole


ExWeb interview with Are Johansen, "snow is the best surface for long journeys”


ExWeb interview with Frédéric Dion, invention and modification for the South Pole of Inaccessibility


Heads up: Frédéric Dion to kite-ski solo to South Pole of Inaccessibility


2014 South Pole expedition list


ExWeb interview with Ian Evans, skier with PolarExplorers on Messner Route


ExWeb interview with Newall Hunter, solo South Pole skier: "pretty hectic last preparations"


French married couple and Norwegian adventurer for South Pole crossing: ExWeb interview with couple


ExWeb interview with Tractor Girl, Manon Ossevoort: tractor passed tests and arrived in Cape Town


ExWeb post South Pole interview with Fagan couple


Lessons from a yachtswoman: Paula Reid to ski to the South Pole


Geoff Wilson’s Top 5 South Pole Tips


ExWeb interview with Faysal Hanneche, "I learned to be patient on Antarctica"


Rules and Regulations in No-Man's Land: ExWeb interview with ALE's Steve Jones


Mount Sidley, Antarctica’s highest volcano accessible to climbers


Polar Technology


Rules and Regulations in No-Man's Land: ExWeb interview with ALE's Steve Jones


Polar Tech Week Roundup: 2014/2015 Recommendations


Your Smart Phone going Global: Review of Iridium Go


ExWeb Special: 2014 Polar Tech Roundtable Conference


HumanEdgeTech Expedition Technology (e.g.CONTACT software)




2014-15 South Pole list - Updated


AdventureStats and Rules of Adventure


Antarctica news bits


Mission to Mars: Stage 2 Report


A journey to the South Pole in a wheelchair


Antarctica video trilogy


Video: Second 2012-13 Ilyushin-76 flight lands at Union Glacier, Antarctica


NASA Worldview


Current Polar Sea Ice Situation (Sept 2014)


Animated map of global weather conditions


New satellite map of Antarctica freely available


Antarctic ski/climb/pole/science Logistic Operators


Adventure Network International (ANI and ALE)


Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI and TAC)



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

Axel Heiberg Glacier start is also located at the Ross Ice Shelf and 535 km in a straight line from the South Pole.

Novo to South Pole of Inaccessibility is 1610 km in a straight line.


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). Note that the Polar Rules were compiled by early Norwegian and British Polar explorers (not exclusively ExplorersWeb) and are maintained today by the current community of veteran polar skiers.


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 (POI)

2011-12 position: 

S82°06.696, E055°01.951

Geographic South Pole (GSP): 90 degrees South












Stephanie and Jeremie busy with sled preparations at Union Glacier.
courtesy Stephanie & Jeremie Gicquel, SOURCE
Are Johansen rubbing the toe at the Magellan statue in Punta Arenas for good luck.
courtesy Are Johansen, SOURCE
Inside the IL-76, flying to Union Glacier.
courtesy Stephanie & Jeremie Gicquel, SOURCE
Antarctica ski and kite routes.
courtesy Map compiled by ExplorersWeb, SOURCE
Wind + Temp @ Surface 2014-11-09 18:00 UTC (click to enlarge)
courtesy GFS / NCEP / US National Weather Service, SOURCE
Wind at surface 2014-11-09 18:00 UTC
courtesy GFS / NCEP / US National Weather Service, SOURCE
Video: Cool step-by-step animation of the stratospheric polar vortex forming over the South Sole as the Southern Hemisphere transitions from summer to winter during the first half of this year. The same is happening right now over the North Pole, reports
courtesy GFS / NCEP / US National Weather Service, SOURCE