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Winds testing the South Pole skiers and kiters

Posted: Nov 21, 2014 10:38 am EST


(By Correne Coetzer) Fred’s damaged sled keeps up with the wind. The winds are playing games with solo traverse kite skier, Faysal Hanneche, and keep testing his patience. The traverse trio battles against cold headwinds. Teams in Punta Arenas stay put with high winds on Antarctica.



Unassisted Supported

(no resupplies, wind-support)


Frédéric Dion (CA)

Solo, kite-ski Novo - South Pole of Inaccessibility


The solo kite skier to the South Pole of Inaccessibility, Frederic Dion, had two major scares the past week when his tent set on fire and his sled got damaged with a 30 cm crack. Using kites means that the skier and the sled travel at fast speeds across the sastrugi, which can be as hard as concrete. With the repaired sled, less wind prevents him from making as many miles as previously.


The repairs Fred made to his sled held well. Latest news is that Fred was able to cover 40 km and 150 km in the available winds. He has frostbite on his nose and says it is good to kite at night, although it is colder, he does not need to wear sunglasses.


Day 11, November 21 

S 76 20.453'  E 11 58.615'  

elevation 3287 m


Faysal Hanneche (FR)

Solo traverse Novo - GSP- Hercules Inlet


Faysal was tent bounded in a storm for three days and when the wind calmed down on Nov. 19,  he dug out his tent, which was buried in 1 meter snow. Ready to use the winds suitable for kiting, the Frenchman got disappointed; after only 6 km the wind turned against him. "That’s life.”, he wrote, "What I need is a wind from the south. Positive thing I see massive Antarctic shelf."


Position November 20:

S70 58’11.7″ E011 01’21.4″



Assisted Unsupported

(resupplies, no kites/sails)


Traverse Messner - GSP - Hercules Inlet

Stéphanie Gicquel (FR)

Jérémie Gicquel (FR) 

Are Johansen (NO) 


The past two days the team covered 22.5 km in poor visibility and yesterday 21 km with 15 m/s headwinds, reported Are. It was hard work and they covered every inch of their bodies, he said.


The French couple reported that in addition to using their compass for navigating in the white-out, they used the wind and the angle of the sastrugi.


They are one week out on the ice and it is not so much about the distance you cover, but rather working on the organization of the day, the tent, the breaks, etc, says the couple. They progressively increased the hours of ski every day, starting with 4 hours on Day 1 and now up to almost 8 hours as from Day 6.


At this stage, the daily routine is as follows : wake up at 6.30am to melt water for the day and have breakfast. Put down the tent and start skiing at 9am (4 hours of ski in the morning, then lunch break, then 4 hours of ski in the afternoon, with a 10 minute break after each hour of skiing). Back in the tent the evening around 7pm for 2 hours of melting water, dinner, blog and then sleep.


November 20, 2014

S 83° 15′ , E 69° 00′

Distance: 120 km

T° : -15°C (windchill: -24°C)



Other teams:

The Hercules Inlet team and Messner teams in Punta Arenas are teams in Punta Arenas were scheduled to fly to Antarctica today, but according to news received from PolarExplorers guide, Keith Heger, the flight is postponed. All the sleds, packed with food and gear, are already on the Ilyushin-76, so the teams have time to relax and explore Punta. Check in again for Keith’s Top Tps and his favorite clothes.


The Tractor team plans to start driving with the Massy Ferguson tractor and two Arctic Trucks vehicles from Novo Base to the Geographic South Pole and back, on November 22 (weather depending again). They have experienced 50 mph winds and temperatures down to -40ºC(-50 wind-chill) at Novo Base, the last few days.  







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 (CA)

William (Bill) Morrison (UK)

Tim Garrett (AU)


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)


Note: Messner Route starts at Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf.


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 

Charles Werb

Adrian McCallum (leader)

Jon Moody





Major damage 500 km out alone on the ice


Lonnie Dupre to attempt Winter Denali again and Cold Love premiers


Kenn Borek stops supporting North Pole expeditions


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



ExplorersWeb Interviews


Midwinter living on the edge: ExWeb interview with Sven Lidstrom at 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 Base to South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI) 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













Serious stitching.
courtesy Frederick Dion, SOURCE
The crack in Fred's modified kayak turned sled-with-a-build-in-tent.
courtesy Frederick Dion, SOURCE
The differently shaped tent that Fred himself built into his sled. This serves as a backup for his Hilleberg tent or to use for power naps between kiting sessions.
courtesy Frederick Dion, SOURCE
Fred in his sled-tent
courtesy Frederick Dion, SOURCE
Faysal's tent was covered in one meter snow.
courtesy Faysal Hanneche, SOURCE
Antarctica ski and kite routes.
courtesy Map compiled by ExplorersWeb, SOURCE
Swedish Polar Scientist, Sven Lidstrom, flew from Cape Town to Antarctica in a 737 BBJ yesterday. In the image are the pilots at the blue ice runway at Troll Station in Queen Maud Land. Sven will be working there till March. In 2012 when he was a winterover at the Geographic South Pole, he slept outside for a few days. See interview in the links.
courtesy Sven Lidstrom, SOURCE
Inside the 737 BBJ that landed at Troll station.
courtesy Sven Lidstrom, SOURCE