21st Century Exploration

At the turn of the 20th Century reaching the South Pole was the wildest dream of the pioneers of the golden age of exploration. Today’s communications, technology & infrastructure have radically transformed Antarctic exploration opening the door to a new age of discovery.

This expedition aims to utilise modern polar knowledge & techniques that enable low impact, long distance travel at high speed to access & explore a region previously beyond the reach of independent expeditions, the most remote mountains on Earth; the Spectre in the Gothic Range of the Transantarctic Mountains.

A complete, unsupported traverse of the Antarctic continent will then be undertaken assisted by kite.

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MISSION

Antarctica will be reached aboard an Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to ALE’s logistics base, the Union Glacier Camp in the Ellsworth Mountains on 15th November 2017.

A ski equipped Twin Otter aircraft will fly the team 600 kms South to ALE’s Theill Skiway fuel depot . After refuel the aircraft will fly to a drop off point at 88˚S, 110˚W, 300 kms towards the Gothic Mountains, the aircrafts maximum return payload range.
For the next 69 days the team will be unsupported and self sufficient. A 20-day food & fuel depot for the return journey will be cached at the drop off point.

Kites will be used to travel the remaining 350 kms to the Gothic Mountains. 20 days will be spent climbing first ascents and exploring the most remote mountains on Earth. All climbs will be made in Alpine style. No fixing rope, No drill & No bolts will be carried.

 

The team will then kite 100 kms down the Scott Glacier to the Ross Ice shelf; the edge of the Antarctic continent. The return journey will require man-hauling uphill, into wind for 450 kms towards the South Pole back to their depot at the original drop off point. Favourable wind patterns can then be harnessed to kite a further 1000 kms to Hercules Inlet on the Ronne Ice shelf on the opposite edge of the continent. If conditions allow the team will attempt to go via the South Pole.

A final kite / man-haul journey of 100 kms will bring the team back to the Union Glacier Camp returning from Antarctica late January 2018.

THE TEAM

The 3-man international team consists of a Brit, a Frenchman & a Kiwi all of whom posses the unique skill set, experience & passion required for this extremely ambitious & complex adventure.

THE ROUTE

Travelling using both next generation snow-kite technology & traditional man- hauling techniques the expedition plans to combine an unsupported polar journey of over two thousand kilometers with the highly technical climbing & skiing objectives in the spectacular Gothic Mountains at the southern most end of the Transantarctic Mountains. Such an expedition has never been attempted before & represents the very cutting edge of 21st Century exploration.

Katabatic wind

The Antarctic Katabatic wind originates from radiational cooling of air atop the high interior plateau which averages 2500m in altitude. Since the density of air is inversely proportional to temperature, the air will flow downwards from the highest points of the plateau towards to coast. The highly predictable nature of these winds will be a key factor in the route plan & success of this expedition.

LIVE FROM THE EXPEDITION

Stagnant

Starting to get a bit bored here still tent bound in miserable conditions. Forecast for tomorrow has slipped a bit giving us the fear that we could get marooned out here in no man’s land.


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Standing by

We are once again shut down by wind and cloud. Glad of the rest today. Looks similar for tomorrow and then, dare I say it, our blessed SE wind and sun may return and stay around for a while. Perhaps…


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Phenomenal phenomenon

We’ve seen few halos around the sun and a couple of sun-dogs but yesterday either somebody slipped something into our porridge or we were blessed to witness an utterly psychedelic, three dimensional…


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