It’s another day in Antarctica: wide landscapes, extreme temperatures and ever changing weather on the home front. Nearing the end of the 2019 Antarctic season, we take a look back at the accomplishments of solo expeditions, world record seekers, and inspired group travelers who crossed the white desert by human powered determination, all culminating at the South Pole – the southernmost point on Earth. Many are now celebrating with a warm cup of tea and making their way home, while others push through long days and camp on the ice, making daily strides to their final goal. We understand their love of polar exploration and that adventure is intertwined with their being – it’s in ours too. It’s something that led them here through extensive training, hard work, and an enduring appetite for exploration – some expeditioners are coupling it with charity support and fund raising. Review who’s at the pole and in the field below.
“The impossible only exists until we find a way to make it possible.” – Mike Horn
ARRIVED AT SOUTH POLE
Jenny Davis arrived at the South Pole after 43 days. She managed to keep up with the world record pace for two thirds of the trip, but her objective moved to simply finishing, after injury increased difficulty on the home stretch. Jenny originally set off with a light sled to challenge the women’s speed record, until her injury created a need to resupply later in her expedition. This caused her to lose her unsupported status. She never gave up on her goals and despite the pain and injury, continued all the way to the pole. A journey of this extent is always a triumph over physical and mental barriers and one she overcame in finishing her goal. Continue to follow her journey @jd_runs
Mollie Hughes has gained a new world record title as the youngest woman to reach the South Pole solo. She reached the Geographic South Pole after 58.5 incredibly challenging days of skiing alone in whiteouts, storm-force winds and temperatures hitting minus 45C. Setting off, Mollie planned to ski without resupply, but was supplied rations en route. She continued to push through physical and mental boundaries, kept a steady pace to complete her challenge and is looking forward to being back in the U.K. soon for media interviews. Stay up to date with Mollie @molliejhughes
Wendy Searle is celebrating at the South Pole after become the 7th solo, unsupported female to ever ski from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, completing it in the 4th fastest time – 42 days and 16 hours. Wendy caught a flight back to Union Glacier right away and is on her way home for a welcome reception at Heathrow Airport. Find more @betweensnowandsky
Anja Blacha reached the South Pole January 9th after 57 days, 18 hours and 50 minutes, completing her solo, unsupported expedition from Berkner Island. She used skis and crampons to complete her journey through sun, mist, white-outs, extreme temperatures, sastrugi, good days and bad all while keeping a focused mentality to reach her goal. Anja has had an incredible two years, climbing Broad Peak and K2 last summer, just a few months before Antarctica. Both Anja and Xu Wen (see below) started further north on Berkner Island than any expedition before them, thus completing the longest Berkner-South Pole traverses to date. Follow more adventures with Anja @anjablacha
Xu Wen skied into the South Pole January 9th around the same time as Anja Blacha. Shortly before his arrival, he had sent out a heartfelt message to his family on Instagram to push through his goal and be able to soon see his newborn child, who was 14 days old when Xu departed on his expedition. Xu has said he experienced many good days in the field, skiing two of his biggest days in a row towards the end. It is worth noting that Xu and Anja Blacha (see above) started their expeditions at the north end of Berkner Island, thus completing the longest Berkner-South Pole traverses to date. Follow his explorations and ongoing goals at @Polar Hub Wen Xu
Jacek Libucha The 44-year-old from Strzyżów, Poland covered the astonishing 1,141 km icy route from Hercules Inlet in 53 days and four hours. Jacek is the third Polish man in history to walk to the South Pole on his own. He took less than two months to cross the glacial desert, struggling with heavy snow, whiteouts, limited visibility and of course sastrugi – sharp, irregular ice grooves and ridges – as well as strong winds before finally making it to the South Pole on January 5th. Jacek is on his way home. Connect with Jacek and read more at The First News.
Tanel Tuuleveski completed his solo expedition from the Messner start to the South Pole in December, celebrating his holidays on the ice and covering almost 500 miles through extreme conditions. He stayed on track and focused through various conditions and some navigational glitches to meet his goal.
STILL IN THE FIELD
Neil Hunter remains on the move. After 45 days through wind, white outs and sastrugi, he continues to make good distance, already crossing over 500 miles of his expedition. This year’s conditions have involved Antarctic white outs, katabatic winds and some epic sastrugi for an additional challenge. A recent update from Neil states he has added an extra half an hour to his ski days making it 10 1/2 hours of skiing with one hour breaks. On publishing, he estimated South Pole arrival was January 15th. Neil has written some of the most detailed blogs of this years expeditions, for people who want to read more on his social media. Stay up to date on Neil @90_Degrees_South_Solo
Richard Parks is back in Antarctica after the disappointment of last year’s expedition ending early and he is determined to complete the journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. His solo expedition involves skiing 1,150 km (715 miles) solo, unassisted and unsupported as fast as possible. He recently passed day 27 in the field and was rationing food until his arrival. Total distance skied: 1090Km. Est dist to pole: 40Km. Altitude: 2769m. Follow his expedition @richardparks
ARRIVED AT SOUTH POLE
The ALE guided Ski South Pole Axel Heiberg team have just reached the South Pole. This was ALE’s first guided expedition on the route, which took the skiers up the Axel Heiberg Glacier, in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen. They kicked off the expedition with a visit to Amundsen’s cairn on Mount Betty, still in place 108 years later. The Ski South Pole Axel Heiberg team traveled by ski for 7-10 hours a day and pulled sleds weighing 132-177 lb (60-80 kg). They skied in daily challenges and varied weather on the polar plateau where elevations reach almost 10,500 ft (3200 m). They arrived at the South Pole on January 12th, ready to warm up and relax. Book ALE guided experiences to the South Pole here.
STILL IN THE FIELD
The Last 300 Robert Swan’s expedition continues on in style after Robert departed due to a dislocated hip in December. Though Robert will not continue south the rest of his team – including his son – pushed on well prepared and in good humor. On publishing, the team was estimated to arrive at the South Pole January 14th. Continue to follow his journey and passion for the Antarctica environment at 2041 Foundation.
OTHER GUIDED TRIPS
ALE’s Ski South Pole Expedition from Hercules Inlet, guided by Christian Styve, is doing well and recently picked up their last food cache. You can follow the expedition at www.LucyJReyn.com with extensive details posted by team member Lucy Reynolds. She is also raising awareness and funds for The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Network UK (IBCN) during her expedition.
Mountain Professionals unsupported ski expedition from Hercules Inlet, guided by Ryan Water’s continues to make good progress and is expecting to arrive at the South Pole January 16th.