Messner-Fuchs Antarctic Crossing

Messner and Fuchs at the Pole

Reinhold Messner (left, above), was already known for climbing all of the 8000 meter peaks without oxygen and summiting all of the 7 Summits (he summited Mt. Vinson in December 1986). He organized the manhauling "Würth-Antarktis Transversale" to cross the Antarctic continent during 1989-90. The original plan was to cross from the Filchner ice shelf to McMurdo; later the planned start was changed to the German Filchner Station on the Ronne Ice Shelf...and after they arrived at Patriot Hillsat Patriot Hills (right), a shortage of fuel forced them to change their start to 82°S-72°W (they proceeded west to 75°W before heading south). His companion, Arved Fuchs, had completed a North Pole trek earlier in the year, so he (unlike Messner) was no stranger to long polar ventures. The trip was shortened at the start due to the problems with ANI fuel and flight arrangements, and it was painful in a number of ways--including Arved's incredibly sore feet, their chilling relationship, and the bittersweet official reception they were given at Pole...

They arrived on 31 December 1989...almost halfway through the 1750-mile trip. During the visit they took great pains to conceal their latent animosities (which ultimately came out in the media and in Messner's book)...the two of them stayed in J-5 in summer camp (or slept in a nearby Scott tent), partied hardy (remember, they arrived on New Years Eve), and were interesting folks to talk to. On New Years Day 1990 they spoke to the gathered station community in the gym...recorded live. Have a listen! (mp3 file, 25mb, 53:34):

Messner's book on this expedition, Antarctica, Both Heaven and Hell, is the source of the above two photos. I highly recommend it.

Below, their well-witnessed departure from the skiway on 3 January 1990...unfortunately the
wind was not strong enough to move both the sledges and the men, so they had to run between
the sails and the sledges (photo by Gary Curtis).
Departure from Pole

After departing Pole, the two would follow Scott's route down the Beardmore Glacier. They stopped at Plunket Point, the blue ice runway site at the confluence with the Mill Glacier, to measure snow accumulation for Charles Swithinbank on stakes which had been erected the previous season. They continued on to McMurdo, or more accurately, Scott Base, where on 12 February 1990 they were officially welcomed and hosted. They were then picked up by Italian helicopters and taken to their Zucchelli Station on Terra Nova Bay, where they would be transported to New Zealand on a Dutch vessel.