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. As far as I know, this was the very last time that sled dogs were used on an expedition to Pole (more info).

Many websites have been covering these...some with live updates, interviews and videos...but there is only one website that that has at
least been mentioning and linking to them every year since 2000...and you are here.

This page is still under construction...but we will start with the 2021-22 season, info updated on 16 November. Links to previous seasons are at left.

Previous seasons

2020-21

2019-20

2018-19

2017-18

2016-17

2015-16

2014-15

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

2021-2022

The pandemic has not ended, but expeditions ARE happening, and ALE will be operating Union Glacier as well as their camp at Pole...and they are supporting "some" of these ventures...

Chasing the Light Antarctica 2021
looks to be 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. 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, and by the 29th they'd traveled 243 miles.

Antártico 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 has been delayed...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. Interestingly, this 9 November Explorersweb article indicates that he's planning to manhaul to Pole after landing near Berkner Island. From his Facebook page, his boat was scheduled to arrive around 26 November, I think he'll leave about 10 days after that.

Royal Enfield 90º South Quest for the Pole
is an unusual motorcycle expedition planned by Royal Enfield's India division. The page above includes a video trailer and mentions and depicts their strange route...the bikes will be shipped to Novo...where the two riders Santhosh Vijay Kumar and Dean Coxson are scheduled to arrive on 26 November. They will be driven by Arctic Trucks to a starting point on the Ross Ice Shelf described as an Indian research station (?? none found) from where they will ride 478 miles to Pole along the South Pole Traverse route. They then will be driven to Union Glacier where they will catch flights back to India. While the royalenfield page does 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.

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, Renée 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 has been 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. Currently the vehicle is being shipped by air in a container to Union Glacier. Somehow I suspect that Arctic Trucks will be involved in this venture as well as ALE. They are also posting updates on their Facebook page...including a recent mention that the car has no heater (!) (my screen grab). The team arrived in Chile on 28 November, and their website indicates they'd start 6 days later. More media...this old August 2020 New York Times article.

Masatatsu Abe (this link is to the English translation of his Japanese page, the original is here)
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, 80ºS-156ºW 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. And here is an older (6 September) interview with Abe (again, the google English translation). 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 80.46ºS.

Erik Bertrand Larssen
from Norway, planned a solo unassisted 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. As of 28 November he was at 80º10'S-49º13'W.

Preet Chandi
a Sikh British Army officer, is attempting 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 says she'll 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 81.5ºS.

Adaptive Grand Slam
is 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, involves 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 are providing venture updates here, and their sponsor Shackleton is updating their progress map with links from this page. After the trip to Pole they will attempt to summit Mt. Vinson 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 are also posting updates on their Facebook page. After 7 days they'd traveled 80 km.

I must note that despite Martin's website claim that he will be the first disabled person to trek to Pole "unsupported and unassisted" 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."

Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE)
is supporting another Pole expedition departing from Berkner Island which has not yet gone public, as well as two guided expeditions, one from Hercules Inlet and one from the Axel Heiberg Glacier. And there are other ventures still on the fence. 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.

More to come...these pages are still under construction. Meanwhile...a couple of notes. Where specific dates/times are mentioned, I try to use South Pole 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 use the time zone of the expedition's home country.

Also important...Explorersweb posts 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.