Antarctic/South Pole Nongovernmental Ventures

...by ski, dog sled, foot, motorcycle, truck, kite sled...use your imagination...

Will Steger's International Trans-Antarctica Expedition arrives at Pole
Above...my photo of Will Steger's International Trans-Antarctica Expedition arriving at Pole on 12 December
1989. This was the next to last time that sled dogs were used on an expedition to Pole (more info).

Many websites have been covering these with live updates, interviews, live tracking, videos, etc. But there is only one website that that has at least been mentioning, tracking, and linking to them every year since 1999...and you are here.

I'm still working through and weeding out the mostly dead links from the earlier expeditions...bear with me, or as a long-time close Antarctic friend has said, oso con migo!

Previous seasons

2020-21

2019-20

2018-19

2017-18

2016-17

2015-16

2014-15

2013-14

2012-13

2011-12--the centennial!

2010-11

2009-10

2008-09

2007-08

2006-07

2005-06

2004-05

2003-04

2002-03

2001-02

2000-01

Earlier seasons:
Go to my news archive page for now.

2022-23 and future planned ventures:
It was a very busy year! There were at least 3 planned Antarctic crossings...including:

Preet Chandi
the woman from India who skied solo successfully from Hercules Inlet to Pole in 2021-22, planned a larger venture this year...described as an 1100-mile coast-to-coast crossing. There are many news articles about this venture including this 14 October 2022 post from the British Army. She'd again head to Pole from Hercules Inlet, and then continue to the Ross Ice Shelf including a descent of the Reedy Glacier. She planned to start in early November 2022...as of 7 November she was awaiting the flight to Union Glacier. She flew south on 13 November and was dropped off at her start point the next day. After 10 days she'd covered 94 miles. As of 20 December she was doing well and at 86-10'S, having covered 441 miles. She reached Pole on 9 January and almost immediately turned north heading back toward the coast. Until she stopped as she'd reached the deadline for pullout at about 86S after transiting a total of 901.68 miles, beating Anja Blancha's record of 858 miles in 2020. But the coverage is out there as she ended up in the middle of nowhere, including this 21 January Polar Journal article which was published on 21 January before her pickup, and this 21 January ExplorersWeb article.

Antarctica 2023
was two physicians--Gareth Andrews (an anesthetist from the Sydney suburb Darlinghurst) and Richard Stephenson (an ER doc from Dunedin). They planned what they were calling a 1250-mile unsupported crossing of the continent, starting at the north side of Berkner Island, heading to Pole, and finishing at the upland edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. Their map seemed to indicate they'd be using the Reedy Glacier rather than the South Pole Traverse route. They planned to get to Union Glacier on 5 November and fly to their Gould Bay starting point the next day...as of the 7th they also were still stuck in Punta Arenas. They flew to Union Glacier on 12 November, on the 13th they flew to their start point on Berkner Island, and they set out the next day. As of 24 November they'd traveled 161km. By 21 December they'd reached the Antarctic Plateau and were at 84S. On 9 January they decided to end their trek at Pole...and by the 11th they were about 130 miles from Pole. They arrived on 19 January.

The Spirit at PoleThe Spirit Lives
was a six-person project by the Australian Defence Force...consisting of leader Emily Chapman with Jack Forbes, Vincent Carlsen, Sean Taylor, Tim Geronimo, and Kelly Kavanagh. Not a lot of detail on their route except that they were to begin at the Messner Start and finish on the Ross Ice Shelf, descending from the plateau using the Reedy Glacier. They were to be resupplied twice. They arrived at Union Glacier on 17 November...no blog updates since then, but as of the 24th they'd traveled 74km per their website map. Alas, they were not posting blog updates except on their tracking map, but as of 21 December they'd reached 84-49'S. By 12 January they'd reached 8845'S. It's not on their website, but on 7 January, the team announced on their Twitter feed that Emily and Tim had abandoned the trek for health reasons at Thiel Corner (8505'S-8047'W), their Camp 32, on about 21 December. They reported that Tim had "Polar thigh" (chilblains). The remaining 4 team members reached Pole on 18 January, as seen in the photo at right from their Twitter feed.

Other planned expeditions include...
 Eric Phillips' team next to the Pole marker
New listing! Eric Philips (tracking map)
guided three Austrians--Alexandra Guryeva, Jens Neumann and Stefan Prucker, on an unsupported trip to Pole on a new route from Filchner Ice Shelf to Pole via the Support Force Glacier...549 miles in 50 days. They started on 23 November and reached Pole on 11 January. Eric believes that this route might pave the way for the first full ski crossing of the continent, as it is virtually crevasse-free, with minimal sastrugi (compared to other routes used this season) and favorable winds. At right is a hero shot of the group at the new Pole marker, from Eric's Facebook page.

Abandoned! Antarctica Unlimited (Italian language site)
is Omar di Felice, age 42 from Rome, who planned the longest-ever cycling journey across Antarctica--1000 miles from Hercules Inlet to the Ross Ice Shelf via Pole...and then back to Pole to claim the "longest bike ride" title. That traverse route down the Leverett Glacier meant his trip could not be classified as "unsupported." And although details are sparse, it appeared that he was doing this alone. This 26 September bikerumor.com page includes a bit more detail about the planned trip as well as about his bicycle, and this Explorersweb page has additional info, as does this 2 November Cycling Weekly article. Omar planned to begin around 20 November...update, he flew to Union Glacier on 27 November and was flown to his starting point on the evening of the 27th. There's a bit more information about his trip on his home page, updates on his Facebook page, and a tracking map here that has not been updated since 28 November as he was stuck in his tent for 3 days as of 2 December. And on 3 December he called it quits due to what was called a "personal problem" otherwise reported on social media as mental health struggles. He was flown back to Union Glacier.

Three Poles
is Finns Mikko Vermas and Tero Teelahti, who planned an unsupported/unassisted ski trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole. The "Three Poles" name refers to the challenge for folks to reach the North Pole and South Pole unassisted, and the summit of Everest, something only 8 people have done so far. Mikko summited Everest in 2010...and both men skied to the North Pole unsupported in 2006. They first proposed this expedition in 2020 and again for 2021-22. They arrived at Union Glacier on 21 November and were dropped at their starting point on the 26th. As of the 29th they'd covered 39 km but were also stuck in their tent due to bad weather. By 19 December they were at 84S and were doing well despite Achilles tendon pain. They continued to make good progress despite Vermas' thigh being in bad shape...by 10 January they were at 88.4S. They reached Pole on 18 January SP time, on their Day 52, and by 0100 PA time on the 21st they were ensconced in a hotel there.

Caroline Ct
ifrom Montreal, is Antarctica in Solitaire. She planned a solo unsupported trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole hoping to break the previous women's speed record on this route...currently held by Johanna Davidsson (Sweden) who did this in 2016 in 38 days and 23 hours. She planned to start at the end of November. She was posting voice updates, her site indicates she'd almost reached 83S as of early December, and she reached Pole on 11 January, smashing the speed record! More on her feat in this 12 January ExplorersWeb article...but I must note that she was greeted by the current South Pole Area Manager, Hannah McKeand, who is a former speed record holder for this journey.
Mateusz Waligra at Pole
Mateusz Waligra (Polish language website with no venture updates)
from Poland, headed to Pole from Hercules Inlet...I've subscribed to his updates...and he is sharing stuff and updates here on Facebook. On 4 November he was on flights from Europe to Punta Arenas. He was dropped off at Hercules Inlet on 17 November. The latest blog post from him is from 12 December, but Facebook on 21 December shows him well underway on day 34. By day 55 (11 January) FB indicates he was still doing well, although posts do not indicate his location...as of the 3rd he'd crossed 88S. He reached Pole on 13 January. The photo at right is from his Facebook page, with the quote "This expedition did not begin at all 58 days and 1250 kilometers earlier in Hercules Inlet on the border of Antarctica and the Ronne Ice Shelf. It started many years ago on the frozen slab of Nyskie Lake in Siestrzechowice [Poland]."

Nick Hollis
is an extreme athlete, trainer, and entrepreneur living west of London, England. After completing the Seven Summits in 2019, he proposed completing something called the 721 Challenge--in addition to the Seven Summits, he plans a last-degree North Pole trip, a row across the Atlantic Ocean (the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge from the Canary Islands to Antigua & Barbuda)...and this season's planned solo ski trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole. His website is here, and the 721 Challenge website is here. The latter site has a map showing he was at Union Glacier as of 24 November, dropped off at his starting point on the 27th, and at 83-58'S as of 21 December.By 12 January he was at 8833'S, and he made it to Pole on the 18th.

Ben Weber in front of the new Pole markerPolar Weber
is Ben Weber, originally from Scotland's Orkney Islands although he's lived in many other parts of the world. He planned a solo ski trek from Hercules Inlet to Pole, after having completed a group crossing of Greenland in April-May 2022. He was scheduled to arrive Union Glacier on 10 November...and he was raising money for Cancer Research UK. He was dropped off at his Hercules Inlet starting point on 18 November. As of 24 November he'd traveled 43 miles and was suffering from severe neck pain. By the 29th he was at 81S, still suffering neck pain. As of his day 34 he was halfway to Pole, having passed Thiel Corner and 85S. On 12 January he was only 20 miles away from Pole, and he arrived on the 13th. At right, the photo of him with the new Pole marker, from his Facebook page.

Inspire 22
--the project name happens to be an acronym for Interdisciplinary South Pole Innovation & Research Expedition--was a 10-person venture with plans to travel from the Messner Start "on the coast of Antarctica" (hmmm...that seems like an oxymoron??) to Pole. The team was...well I'll be lazy, here's their list...but I will note that they were being guided by Canadian Devon McDiarmid who has been mentioned on this website before. They were doing extensive physiological research, and their site includes a number of medical references that were relevant to their planned research. They left the UK on 7 November...and arrived at Union Glacier on the 23rd. They were flown to their Messner Start on the 25th, as of the 29th they'd covered 52 km. They reached Thiels Corner and met up with Polar Preet on 15 December. They reached Pole on 10 January...alas because of their physiological project they had to abstain from indulging in real food and coffee at the tourist camp. They returned to Union Glacier on 11 January.

New listing! AK Glck-Teigland and Kjartan Bergsvg (Norwegian language news site)
reached Pole on 6 January after 40 days of travel from Hercules Inlet on what they called the Nansen South Pole expedition. I could not find a website for them, and all of the media sites were totally behind a paywall except the one linked above, which does show a photo.

Hedvig Hjertaker
a 28-year-old Norwegian woman, hoped to be the youngest woman to ski solo/unsupported/unassisted from Hercules Inlet to Pole. Previously only eight women had done this. She's done some other serious ventures including summiting Aconcagua (22,841') and crossing the Greenland icecap in the spring of 2022. Not much news. As of 24 November she was at Hercules Inlet. On her day 5 (2 December) she'd covered about 36 km. By 20 December she'd traveled 400 km and had encountered a strong gale, so she took a rest day. She was doing better by the 27th as she was at 8536'S and reported "a whole day without a jacket and freezing..." Her most recent website updates were undated, but she'd crossed 89S, and as of the my view of her map on 13 January she was about 40 miles from Pole. She arrived on the 15th after traveling for 49 days.

Abandoned! Wendy Searle (BBC News article)
currently living in Wales, was also trying to beat Johanna's speed record from Hercules Inlet to Pole. She did the same trip in 2019-20 but missed out on beating the record by about 3 days (January 2020 ExplorersWeb article). I cannot find any public information on her website or social media about this venture, and this website only addresses her successful 2020 venture. This 29 November National Geographic article indicates she'll start on 5 December, as confirmed by this 18 December planetski.eu web post. Alas, she abandoned her attempt on 19 December after completing 211 miles, as she realized she was behind the world record setting pace she needed and was continuing to suffer from a chest infection per this 23 December Explorersweb article.

Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2022 -- South Pole
was a project that was planned by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZAHT) for 2022-23 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Roald Amundsen. The team was led by the experienced Norwegian polar guide Bengt Rotmo of Ousland Expeditions (Norwegian language page...and yes, that is THAT Brge Ousland), and NZAHT executive director Nigel Watson. They would travel nearly 621 miles/1000km from the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole using the route inspired by Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs' 1989-90 Antarctic crossing. The NZAHT was looking for 3 Kiwi or Norwegian volunteers to join the venture...applications closed on 13 June 2022. And on 1 August the three volunteers were selected--Laura Andrews, age 28, an Auckland firefighter; Marthe Brendefur, an intelligence analyst from the west coast of Norway--among other things, she crossed the Greenland icecap in 2019; and Mike Dawson, age 35, from Tauranga, NZ--he has been an Olympic athlete and coach in canoe slalom, and he would be the expedition videographer. More information about the team from the NZ Antarctic Heritage Trust...and here is a 10 October Bay of Plenty Times article about Mike Dawson's preparation for this trip. On 4 November the entire team had assembled in Punta Arenas. They reached Union Glacier on 16 November and were dropped off at the Messner Start point on the 18th. After the first week they'd crossed 83S. There is another expedition diary page here. As of 20 December they'd reached 86-50'S. They reached Pole on 6 January after 50 days of travel...by the 12th they were back in NZ.

Not on Akshay Nanavati (12 June mansworldindia article)
born in Mumbai and a former United States Marine, planned a 2022-23 50-day 684-mile solo ski expedition from Hercules Inlet to Pole. Throughout his life he has suffered from medical, addiction, stress, and PTSD issues; he has turned to adventure and has become a successful motivational speaker and author. He participated in a 2021-22 ALE expedition to Pole via the Axel Heiberg Glacier, from which he had to be medevaced due to frostbite. He was to precede his Pole trip with an October 2022 ski crossing of the Patagonian icecap. Ashkay, currently age 37, moved to the US at the age of 13 and currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona (more information from Akshay's Wikipedia page). Akshay's website documenting his 2017 book Fearvana was never updated to describe his planned 2022-23 ventures...in fact, his website indicates his "next adventure" would to the Arctic beginning in February 2023...perhaps in preparation for a future Antarctic venture.

Revised... The Pole of Possibility
is Paralympian gold medal winner Karen Darke (age 51) along with Manchester Arena bombing survivor Iona Somerville (21), both from the UK, who were originally planning a "last two degree" venture to Pole (137 miles/220km) along the 79th meridian (west)...the route selected in part because 79 is the atomic number of gold. Iona later opted not to participate. Karen was to be accompanied by researcher/explorer Mike Christie who would be collecting ice samples, and filmmaker Mike Webster Karen would be traveling on a hand-pedaled trike as well as a sit-ski while the other team members. would be skiing. Karen had previously proposed sit-ski ventures to Pole in 2012-13 and 2013-14 (along with Mike Christie and others) but these ventures never happened. As of 16 November she was hosting an event in the UK. The team reached the ice on about 19 December...they started on their trip on the 22nd heading down Union Glacier, up the Skytrain Ice Rise, and on to the Ronne Ice Shelf (790S-79W)...from where they retraced their route, covering a total of 186 miles (trip update from icetrikes.co). She reported that she was leaving the ice on 10 January. There were reportedly others on this expedition.

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Cat Burford
a dentist from the UK nicknamed the "molar explorer" has expressed plans for a solo South Pole venture in 2023-24, as described in this dentistry.co.uk news article. She's done extensive hiking and serious traveling.

Pole to Polean Ariya in Antarctica
is a plan to drive a modified all-electric Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE from the Magnetic North Pole to the South Pole beginning in Canada in March 2023 and traveling through 14 different countries (24 May 2022 Nissan press release). They will attempt the Antarctic continent in the 2023-24 austral summer season. The team will be led by British Guinness World Record holder Chris Ramsey. He initially announced his intention to become the first person to drive an automobile between these two poles in March 2021 per this Wikipedia article. They will be starting in...er, Edmonton, Alberta, heading first to the North Geomagnetic Pole which is at 80.7N-72.7W on Ellesmere Island, and then heading south. The Geomagnetic North Pole is at the point where the axis of Earth's hypothetical bar magnet intersects the Earth's surface. Note that the North Magnetic Pole is the point where a magnetic compass needle will become vertical--currently it is in the Arctic Ocean at about 86.3N-151.3E--not a place one could drive to. Why are there two such poles? Simply, the Earth's geomagnetic field is a good bit more complicated than that of a basic bar magnet...this page from the World Data Center for Geomagnetism, Kyoto has a bit more information. Sections of the route will obviously involve marine transport...it is well documented that the Darin Gap in Panama is much more treacherous and dangerous than the Drake Passage. The image at above right is from the referenced Nissan press release. The team will be supported in Antarctica by ALE and supported by Arctic Trucks, who are currently modifying the vehicle. More information is newly available in this 28 October 2022 Fox News article which includes a 10-minute interview with Chris Ramsay.

Jacob Myers (6 November 2022 Transylvania Times article)
currently age 24, from Sapphire, NC (a small town just west of Brevard, is attempting to be the youngest person in history to walk to the South Pole alone, in 2023-24. So far he has not done any polar treks, but he's done some ultra runs and hikes...to meet ALE's requirements he'll need to do some cold weather training, which he plans to do this boreal winter in the Yukon and around the Great Slave Lake. His supporters include Wendy Searle and Robert Swan. As of 29 December he'd raised over 98% of his $10,000 IndieGoGo fundraiser which has been closed down...the last update indicates he'll be using the funding for his qualifying expedition in Canada this boreal winter and try for Antarctica next season.

2021-2022

The pandemic had not ended, but expeditions happened! ALE was operating their Union Glacier camp as well as their camps at Pole and Vinson...and they supported "some" of these ventures...all of which have now ended, as it is getting colder in Antarctica. Here is a good final 21 January update from Martin Walsh at Explorersweb.

Chasing the Light Antarctica 2021Justin and Jamie at Pole
looks to have been the first nongovernmental venture to arrive on the continent...they reached Novo on 10 November. This project is two Brits, Justin Packshaw and Jamie Facer Childs, who are kite-skiing about 2500 miles...first to the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI), thence to Pole, Hercules Inlet and Union Glacier. They'll be taking medical and environmental data for NASA, the European Space Agency, Stanford, and the University of Central Florida...more details about this are in this 9 December Gizmodo article "Space Agencies Are Tracking Two Explorers...". Here is Martin Walsh's 11 November Explorersweb article about their plans. They arrived at Novo on 11 November SP time...they set out a couple of days later. On 6 December they marked 500 miles/800 km of travel, reporting at 77.8S-10.9E. But a couple of days later they decided not to visit the POI but head directly to Pole due to a shortage of food. By the 15th (their Day 32) they'd completed 1042 km/647 miles. They'd reported light or unfavorable winds in the last few days. As of the 19th they'd had a couple of exhausting long days and had covered 1,250 km/777 miles. On the 24th they tried to start out but the wind was too light to take them anywhere. As of 29 December they had 380 miles/611 km to go to reach Pole with only 14 days of food left...but the 30th brought better winds and they completed 72 km on course. And things kept getting better...on 4 January they did 82 km on course and were only 133 miles from Pole. On the 7th they had great wind and did 104 km/65 miles so by the 8th they were only 64 km/40 miles from Pole. They reached Pole on the 8th and were hanging out and eating well. At right, a photo of Justin and Jamie in front of you know what, from Justin's Instagram. They opted to not continue to Hercules Inlet.

Called off! Antrtico Remando en Solitario (Antarctic Paddling Solo) (Spanish language site)
is Spanish endurance athlete Antonio de la Rosa, who among other things completed a SUP trip from San Francisco to Hawaii in 2019. He's planning an unusual trip...interestingly, his website describes this as a solo rowing trip from Cape Horn to the Antarctic Peninsula, followed by a sail to South Georgia with hopefully a stop at Elephant Island from where he would duplicate the route of Shackleton to Cove Inlet near King Haakon Bay. He has been in Punta Arenas for awhile...I'm not sure of his starting point...and originally he was planning to begin around 20 November, but the shipping container with his boat was delayed for 3 weeks...supply chain problems(!) The container finally arrived on 28 November. I haven't found specs on his boat Ocean Defender, which appears to be about 22 feet long with an enclosable cockpit. He'd originally considered including a manhaul to Pole, but that part is off. He had his boat towed from PA to Puerto Williams. From his Facebook page, his boat was scheduled to arrive around 26 November. After suffering a bit of a fever, he and his boat were being towed from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams as of 6 December, a trip that would take several days. Alas, per a 6 December Facebook post he was diagnosed positive for COVID. Just in...on the 12th he announced that he was calling the trip off for this season. On Christmas Eve he saw his boat Ocean Defender pulled out of the water and stored until his attempt next year, per this Facebook post.

Royal Enfield 90 South Quest for the Pole 
was an unusual motorcycle expedition planned by Royal Enfield's India division. The page linked above includes a video trailer and mentions and sort of depicts their strange route...the bikes were shipped to Novo...where the two riders Santhosh Vijay Kumar and Dean Coxson were scheduled to arrive on 26 November. They were driven by Arctic Trucks to a starting point on the Ross Ice Shelf described as an Indian research station (?? none found), getting there on about 13 December. From there they were to ride 478 miles to Pole along the South Pole Traverse route, arriving on about 22 December. They then were to be driven to Union Glacier, getting there about 3 January where they were to catch flights back to India, while the bikes are to be shipped to the UK. Schedule source: this YouTube interview with Santhosh posted on 3 December and linked from this 4 December drivespark.com page. While the royalenfield page did not fully name the riders, this advpulse.com article identified them as the Royal Enfield employees named above, and also described some of the motorcycle modifications. And here is a link to the pdf press release about this expedition. And...this 15 October Roadracingworld article about the expedition DOES mention Arctic Trucks and also describes bike modifications. I must note that this would not be the first motorcycle to reach Pole...that was Shinji Kazama in 1991-92...he rode a modified Yamaha liquid-cooled DR200 and often used a ski attached to the front tire, which the Enfield riders will not do. The Arctic Trucks team, Jhannes Gumundsson and Arnar Gunnarsson, headed to Novo via Cape Town the last week of November. There also are two "content creators" along. They have been posting updates on this Facebook page, although these were not timely. Despite the news I saw earlier, the Royal Enfield team must have arrived at Novo at the beginning of December. They were to be there for about 4 days, acclimatized, got both bikes started, and let a couple of scientists take test rides on the Himalayans. But...that FB page was not giving tracking information as apparently they started their trip on 7 December per this 22 December EVOindia news article which indicates they actually completed their ride to Pole in only 9 days, arriving on 16 December after starting from 87S. No details about their actual route, but this APN News article states they traveled on a "compacted snow track" which implies they used the South Pole Traverse route. Here's a photo shared on 22 December from Royal Enfield's Twitter feed.

Valkyrie Racing
planned a 356 mile Antarctic drive heading south toward Pole and back from Union Glacier...in a heavily modified 1956 Porsche 356 A, which one of the drivers, Rene Brinkerhoff, originally acquired in 2011. She has driven it in a number of severe road rallies around the world mentioned here. Her second driver will be the veteran polar explorer Jason de Carteret. The vehicle was heavily modified, including most visibly a set of skis attached to the front axle and a Mattrack-type track set on the rear axle. More detailed specs are available here, and a good friend familiar with Porsches and Antarctic travel has speculated how many miles the rear axle will last before breaking. The vehicle was shipped by air in a container to Union Glacier, where the team arrived on 6 December. Arctic Trucks was, surprisingly, not involved in this venture...perhaps as the team was not doing a lengthy traverse...rather, short trips in different directions out from camp. Their updates on their Facebook page have noted a number of problems from frozen carburetors and air filter to sheared hub and ski kingpin bolts. Old media...this August 2020 New York Times article. They did complete their 356 miles on 11 December, as of the 15th, the team was awaiting good weather so they could fly north to Chile...which they did on the 17th.

Masatatsu Abe (this link is to the English translation of his Japanese page, the original is here)
Abe's furthest south the Japanese explorer and rickshaw driver who successfully walked to Pole in 2018-19, embarked on a venture he'd originally announced for 2019-20--a retracing of the rest of the route to Pole from Japanese explorer Nobu Shirase's 1911-12 furthest south, 80S-15W on the Ross Ice Shelf (Wikipedia page about Shirase describing his Antarctic and Arctic explorations). He arrived in Punta Arenas on 30 October and did what I did there in the 80s before heading to Antarctica...went shopping, and went for a run along the coast. The bottom of this (English translation) page shows the most recent update with this link to earlier updates. The top of that page features a map of Antarctica with his current location (as of 5 November he was in Punta Arenas) although Abe's route up to the plateau is not identified. This 29 September Explorersweb article by Martin Walsh describes Abe's expedition plans. Abe is also sharing some updates on his personal Facebook page. He was on the ALE flight that arrived at Union Glacier on 15 November, he was flown to his starting point on 18 November; by the 24th he'd traveled 60 km, and by the 30th he'd traveled 120 km/76 miles and was at 80.46S. Interestingly, he was mostly heading east...on 6 December he was at 80.95S-16617'W. By the 14th he'd traveled 326 km/202 miles and was heading south nominally following Amundsen's route. On the 18th he encountered 22 mph headwinds...and stopped at 8226'S-164W. Interestingly, on the 20th (his day 37) he saw a bird in the distance, on the 22nd he was at 80-54'S, and on Christmas Day he spotted the SPoT route. By the 31st he was at 84-28' and could see the Queen Maud range in the distance. By 4 January he was approaching the base of the Leverett Glacier, but in his most recent blog post he was contemplating quitting early. "The final decision will be made at the next contact." But...he persisted. As of 8 January he was heading up the Axel Heiberg glacier, at 8526'S-16450'W, and on the 10th he was at 85-26'S. As of 10 January it was decided that his venture would be suspended...he would try to reach a flat area where the pickup aircraft could land. As of 13 January he'd been hanging out at 8526'S-16456'W for two days. And as of 19 January I'd seen no recent updates and assumed he was still at that point waiting for pickup. By 20 January he'd apparently been picked up and flown to Union Glacier, and by 22 January he was back in South America. At right, a hero shot of him at his southernmost point from his Facebook page, which he posted was at 8526'S-16550'W. He said he was flying the flag of the White Army...which I cannot identify or find an explanation of elsewhere.
Erik Larssen at Pole
Erik Bertrand Larssen
from Norway, planned a solo unsupported expedition to Pole from Berkner Island. He was also on the ALE flight arriving at Union Glacier on 15 November. He's also posting some updates on Facebook as well as on a podcast (only in Norwegian), although this page of his website posts daily travel updates in English. He began his travels on 19 November and so far has been covering about 25 km per day while crossing Berkner Island. He took 2 rest days on the 17th and 18th due to fever and a sore throat, As of 24 December (his Day 37) he was at 8510'S-5159'W, and he planned to celebrate by taking an early night with cake and perhaps some phone calls. On 30 December (his day 43) he'd reached 86-25'S and was having trouble with his skis delaminating. As of 5 January SP time, his most recent update was from 3 January when he was at 87-11'S. And as of 8 January he was at 8817'S-5159'W. 11 January he was at 8840' S and resting up for his push in the next 5 days. By 15 January he was at 8948'S--only 13 miles from Pole, which he should reach by Sunday 16 January. Which he did! At right, his hero shot from his Facebook page.

Preet Chandi
a Sikh British Army officer, set out to ski solo and unsupported from Hercules Inlet to Pole. This is her first expedition to Antarctica. She trained in Greenland during the northern summer and expected to head to Punta Arenas around 5 November. Here is a 21 October British Army news page about her expedition which includes a 14-minute Q&A video about the venture. She is also posting updates on the @polarpreet pages on Facebook and Instagram. This 3 November BBC News article said she'd head south from the UK on Sunday...and that people tell her that she "...doesn't look like a polar explorer." On 15 November (PA time) she said she expected to fly to Union Glacier on the 18th. She was dropped off at her starting point on 25 November SP time and did a few hours before making camp. She's posting daily audio updates on her website...although her exact location isn't mentioned, as of 30 November she was at about 81.5S, and by 9 December she was at 83.5S. By her Day 21 (15 December) she'd reached Thiels Corner (85-5'S-80-47'W)...an occupied ALE fuel depot about halfway to Pole. On the 20th she was at about 86-45'S, by the 25th she was at 88-10'S, and on the 29th she was within the last degree. As of New Years Eve she had about 40 miles to go...she'll be the first trekker (other than the last degree folks) to reach Pole...which she did on 3 January her time! She scored this 4 January NPR article noting that she is is the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition in Antarctica. By 15 January she'd returned to the UK per this BBC News article.

Shortened... Adaptive Grand Slam
was part of a project led by former British army officer Martin Hewitt (Wikipedia reference) to allow disabled people to reach both poles and climb the seven summits. This particular project, Adaptive Antarctica, involved only Martin (his left arm is paralyzed from 2007 gunshot wounds in Afghanistan) guided by Lou Rudd, who "raced" Colin O'Brady across Antarctica in 2018-19. They were flown to Hercules Inlet to begin their ski trip on 18 November. They were providing venture updates here, and their sponsor Shackleton was updating their progress map with links from this page. After the trip to Pole they planned a Mt. Vinson summit attempt, which would be their completion of the "grand slam." There is a 2 November inews.co.uk news article describing the trek, and mentioning that the two men were to fly from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier on 3 November...they actually flew south on 15 November. They were also posting updates on their Facebook page. After 7 days they'd traveled 80 km. By 11 December (Day 23) they were at 8423'S-8050'W. But...Martin had been suffering from Achilles tendonitis on his left leg...in part because he'd been skiing with one arm and the pulk load was unbalanced. Finally, despite painkillers and added cut-up Thermarest heel blocks, on 16 December, things got to unbearable for him to continue. From 85-17'S-80-44'W they were backtracking about 16 miles/26 km to ALE's Thiels Corner airfield, from where they were to be flown to Union Glacier for a medical assessment. As of 17 December they were hoping they could still do the Vinson summit...and after reaching Thiels Corner (85-5'S-80-47'W) on the 17th they were also considering a last degree Pole trek if Martin's condition improved after some time at UG. They did fly back to UG on the 18th, where Martin spent time with the medical team, while Lou...competed in the Antarctic Ice Marathon that went off a couple of hours after their arrival. As of the 22nd, Lou was repacking supplies in preparation for a last degree trek, as Martin continued to recover well. On the 25th Martin did a 10 km test ski with a half-loaded pulk, and they were cleared to fly out to the start point of the last degree trek in a few days. As of the 29th they were still at UG...but they were flown to the last degree start point (actually 88-54'S) on New Years Eve. By their Day 48 (4 January) they had reached 89-46'S and were thinking about reaching Pole on 5 January their time--the centenary of Ernest Shackleton's death. And they did succeed by the 6th! By the 8th they were back at Union Glacier waiting for a flight to the Vinson base camp...and they were still waiting on the 11th. But then things happened...they were at the Vinson base camp on the 13th, the high camp on the 14th...and the summit on the 15th!

Martin's website originally claimed that he would be the first disabled person to trek to Pole "unsupported and unassisted," but this is not the case for several reasons. First...the term "unassisted" has been deprecated by the Polar Expeditions Classification Scheme (PECS)...and more significantly, the first disabled person to travel to Pole was Norwegian Cato Zahl Pedersen, who'd lost both arms in a high voltage incident. His 1994-95 venture was titled "Unarmed to the South Pole." Martin has since updated his website to refer to him as hoping to be the first disabled person to traverse to Pole and also climb Mt. Vinson.

 Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) (their report on 2021-22 supported ventures)sherpas ready to head south
was also supporting two guided expeditions, one from Hercules Inlet and one from the Axel Heiberg Glacier--Akshay Nanavati, one of the participants of the Axel Heiberg trek, had to be medevaced back to UG due to frostbite, he was flown back to Punta Arenas. Here is Akshay's website and diary about his venture...he is planning a solo ski trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole in 2022-23. And there were other ventures out there...including at least one "last degree" trek which was completed about 17 December. ALE has not posted any information about specific expeditions, but this 6 October Explorersweb article by Martin Walsh provides further information on the nonmechanized expeditions as well as Eric Philips' map showing the various expedition routes. They didn't post any updates on these guided treks, but as of 7 December the first 10 people had summited Mt. Vinson. Oh! One of the last degree ventures as well as a Vinson summit--supported by ALE--was Tashi, Mingma, and Chhang Dawa Sherpa--three brothers who jointly own Nepal-based Seven Summit Treks. They hoped to be the first Nepali team on Vinson...and actually for Dawa, Vinson was the fifth of his seven summits. See the bottom of this 14 December Explorersweb article as well as the photo at right of the 3 brothers upon arrival in Punta Arenas on 17 December, shared by Dawa on social media. The three arrived at Union Glacier on about Christmas Day, reached Pole on 2 January, and summited Vinson on 13 January, per this Himalayan Times article.

More to come as these pages are still under construction. Meanwhile...a couple of notes. Where specific dates/times are mentioned, I try to use South Pole summer time (UTC+13), but I'm not always able to determine this, particularly for older expeditions where the blog or website has disappeared. Sometimes they have used the time zone of ALE's Union Glacier camp (UTC-3, the same as Punta Arenas), or they may have used the time zone of the expedition's home country.

Other caveats...the information on many of the older expeditions comes from websites and news articles which are no longer online but are archived...and in many cases the photos and blog entries did not get archived. And...the meanings of the terms "unsupported" and "unassisted" have evolved over the years. Many ventures have used these terms, and rather than try to do an evaluation on older expeditions, I have used these terms as quoted from the original venture websites and/or news media.

Also important...one of my sources is Explorersweb--they frequent updates on the various ventures throughout the austral summer, so if you're interested I highly recommend that you visit their website and contact them to get on their email list.

 

Updated 24 January 2023 South Pole time (UTC+13)