The South Pole / About


I hope to ski  from Hercules Inlet on the frozen edge of the Antarctica continent to the South Pole itself.  It is a distance of about 1200 km.  Off all the routes from the  ice covered coast or the open ocean edge of the Ronne and Ross Ice Shelfs the route from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole is perhaps the most tried and tested.  It is reasonably well mapped route and weaves an established path around crevasse fields and other natural hazards, which the polar pioneers of the exploratory age had to navigate as they went without any knowledge of what they were going into.  That is not to say it is now tame but my trip will made much easier and safer by the knowledge accumulated by the heros of the last century.

001. A Map of Antartica showing the entire size of the huge continent which is split into West Antarctica and East Antarctica by the Transantarctic Mountains. There are two large iceshelfs; The Ronne Iceshelf in the South Atlantic and Ross Iceshelf at the South Pacific. Hercules Inlet is where the Ronne Ice Shelf meets the frozen coast of Antarctica.

I intend to leave for Punta Arenas in southern Chile at the end of October 2023. After some preparations here in early November I will fly with Antartic Logistics and Exploration (ALE) from Punta Arenas Union Glacier in the Ellesworth Mountains in early November. I will make the final preparations at Union Glacier before being taken on a short flight to Hercules Inlet. Here the Twin Otter plane will leave me and my sled (pulk) on the ice, which is 200 hundred metres thick above the sea here.  I will then clip the pulk traces onto the harness and turn south and begin the climb up the slope for 3-4 days climbing  up 1000 metres to the edge of the Patriot Hills on the SE flank of the Ellsworth Mountains, where I reach the plateauat about 1200 metres.

Once on the plateau I will have about 28 days of skiing across undulating terrain. En route I will pass landmarks like the Three Sails nunataks and then the Stewart Hills before I will then reach and pass to the east of the Thiel Mountains.  The Thiel Mountains are the half way stage.

From the Thiel Mountains the plateau climbs slowly, initially over rough terrain, for another 20 days until I reach nearly 3000 metres and the South Pole itself. On this second half the pulk will be considerably lighter as eat my way through the food at about a kilogram a day and burn cooking fuel at about a kilogram every 3 days, so I will barely notice the gradual climb except for the infamous sastrugi.

Once at the South Pole I will reach the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Here the journey comes to an end after 1200 wind-beaten kilometres. I will go into the station for a day or two until the the ALE flight which services the South Pole Station arrives with supplies for it, and I will then return with the flight to Union Glacier. This will be around mid January.  After a few days at Union Glacier at the ALE hub and base I will return to Punta Arenas in Chile with them to start the long journey back home on about the 25th January.

002. The 1200 km route from the drop off point at Hercules inlet to the South Pole. The route climbs quite steeply for the first 4 days from 200m to 1000m and then undulates climbing slowly to nearly 3000m over the next 50-55 days to reach the South Pole

The pulk will have a base weight of about 60 kilos, which includes the pulk itself, the tent, the sleeping bag system, stoves and pots, clothing and spare gloves, spare skis, a first aid kit, a repair and maintainence kit, and various navigation and communication gadgets and a solar charger.  In addition to this I will  have about 56 days of food, about 15 litres of fuel in my pulk which will be about another 80 kilos. So I will start the 1000m climb up to the Patriot Hills with about 140 kg on Day 1, and finish at the South Pole some 56 days later with a mere 60 kilograms in the pulk (sled).

All the equipment I am taking will be posted in a spreatsheet, and the occasional blog I write about the preparations, will be posted on the home page of the expedition as it unfolds.