Antarctic/South Pole Nongovernmental Ventures

2017-18 through 2021-22


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 77.8ºS-10.9ºE. 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! 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 was delayed for 3 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 90º 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 page. While the royalenfield page did not fully name the riders, this 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, Jóhannes Guðmundsson 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 87ºS. 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 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 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, 80ºS-15ºW 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 80.46ºS. Interestingly, he was mostly heading east...on 6 December he was at 80.95ºS-166º17'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 82º26'S-164ºW. Interestingly, on the 20th (his day 37) he saw a bird in the distance, on the 22nd he was at 80º-54'S, and on Christmas Day he spotted the SPoT route. By the 31st he was at 84º-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 85º26'S-164º50'W, and on the 10th he was at 85º-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 85º26'S-164º56'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 85º26'S-165º50'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 posted 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 85º10'S-51º59'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 86º-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 87º-11'S. And as of 8 January he was at 88º17'S-51º59'W. 11 January he was at 88º40' S and resting up for his push in the next 5 days. By 15 January he was at 89º48'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 81.5ºS, and by 9 December she was at 83.5ºS. By her Day 21 (15 December) she'd reached Thiels Corner (85º-5'S-80º-47'W) occupied ALE fuel depot about halfway to Pole. On the 20th she was at about 86º-45'S, by the 25th she was at 88º-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 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 84º23'S-80º50'W. But...Martin had been suffering from Achilles tendonitis on his left 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 85º-17'S-80º-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 (85º-5'S-80º-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 88º-54'S) on New Years Eve. By their Day 48 (4 January) they had reached 89º-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.


There WERE trips planned for 2020-21...before that pesky pandemic showed up. ALE didn't operate, and foreign visits to US Antarctic stations were forbidden.
An image of the COVID-19 virus (CDC/Alissa Eckert).
Shackleton 2020
was a 4-person British venture that planned to retrace Shackleton's intended 1914-17 route across the continent, starting from Vahsel Bay (the last confirmed location of Shackleton's vessel Endurance) and crossing the continent via Pole and the Beardmore Glacier to McMurdo Sound. The team was to consist of Alan Chambers (age 50), Ann Daniels (55), Wayne Hoyle (52), and Rupert Fyne (52), using kites. The website contains only biographies of the team members and a promotional video (the YouTube link) (mostly but not completely without sound). A description of their plans is available on the extremeleaders website. I've found no post-pandemic updates.

Postponed from 2019-20 Team WETWO
is "We Two"--Phoebe Smith, a British writer, broadcaster and journalist, and Dwayne Fields, a Jamaican living in London. They've announced and were in training for a 2020-21 trip to Pole, starting from the Emperor penguin colony on Berkner Island. In 2010, Dwayne participated in the Polar Challenge, a 400-mile trek to the 1996 location of the north magnetic pole (Wikipedia information), and he'd previously announced Antarctic treks for 2012-13 and 2013-14 which didn't happen. In December 2019, Phoebe plans a training trek the length of the United Kingdom island hauling a wheeled sledge. And in 2021 they'd planned to take a group of underprivileged young people to Antarctica on a specially chartered expedition ship, which might yet happen. This 9 November 2019 Isle of Wight County Press article has a bit more information about Phoebe. Current post-pandemic (hopefully) plans...Phoebe and Dwayne are planning a 2022-23 walk (!) from the Berkner Island penguin colony to Pole and are currently seeking sponsors.

Postponed from 2019-20 Baz (Barry John) Gray
is the Royal Marines Commando veteran who in 2018-19 skied solo and unsupported/unassisted from Hercules Inlet to Pole. Before he started that trip, he announced that in 2019-20 he'd do an 1800-mile solo Antarctica crossing from the north end of Berkner Island, across the plateau via Pole, and to McMurdo Sound via the Shackleton Glacier. His sponsor SATcase's current website posits a trip from the Bay of Whales area to Berkner Island via Pole, but with no date indicated. This PDF gives more information about his more recent plans. As of November 2019 I'd seen no recent news on his website or elsewhere, but I learned that he was considering this trip for 2020-21, which obviously did not happen.

Tom Warburton
a 21 year old British student, was training for a 2020-21 solo walk from Hercules Inlet to Pole...if he succeeds, he'll be the youngest person to do so. His plans were first reported by news media in April of 2019, including this 11 April Euronews article. Tom is currently a student at the University of Nottingham, and he'd originally considered doing this in 2019-20. He still hopes do do this in 2021-22 but I've seen nothing recent.


Here is the listing of NGO treks, ventures, a flight(!), and a rowboat trip (!!) which mostly happened in 2019-20:

the Impossible Row was completed and possible
The Impossible Row crew posing for a hero shot after arriving on the mainland
of the Antarctic from Colin O'Brady's Instagram account.
Colin O'Brady
now age 34, followed up his transcontinental trip of last season with what he called the "Impossible Row," which he first announced on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" on 15 November. Briefly, it was a six-man ocean row from the tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula in a 24-foot ocean rowing boat. This trip HAS been done 1988 Ned Gillette and three others did it in a 28-foot aluminum craft, although their boat had a small sail occasionally used to maneuver the vessel near land. Here's a good memorial page by Eva Schandl with details and photos of the Sea Tomato venture, as well as a bit more information shared by participant, good friend, and 1980 Pole winterover Jay Morrison (he, Ned, and Mark Eichenberger of the crew are no longer with us).

In addition to Colin O'Brady, his team includes Cameron Bellamy, Fiann Paul, John Peterson, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton, and Andrew Towne. They set out offshore south of Cape Horn (Hornos Island--further south than Ned Gillette's departure point closer to the Patagonia coast) on 13 December 2019 at 0900 Chilean time (UTC-3) and landed on the Peninsula (at at 1045 Chilean time on Christmas Day at about 64º-12'S-61ºW--just south of Hughes Bay--with a time of 12 days 1 hour 45 minutes. The team took turns rowing in 3's for 90-minute shifts 24/7. This page includes a bit more info and a link to a photo gallery of their training in Scotland. And unlike the Sea Tomato, O'Brady's craft was followed by a 120-foot boat from the Discovery Channel--this was a required safety measure, but it also enabled photo/video coverage of the trip for a documentary, although no support was to be offered except in case of emergency. The Discovery Channel put up links to their videos here (archive site)...they may or may not work depending on your location and your browser. Here's a Guinness World Records page about the venture...also see the above photo of the crew after their arrival on the Antarctic continent.

Flying Thru Life
was a planned flight by Robert DeLaurentis from pole to pole scheduled for 2019-20 after being postponed from last season. He was scheduled to head south from San Diego's Gillespie Field on 16 November. This is by no means a fast flight, as he plans to stop in a number of countries along the way (route details)...the overflight of Pole is planned for New Years Day. His original plan was to take off from PA, overfly Pole, and head to King George Island for refueling...a 20-hour flight in his modified twin-engine Turbo Commander. He will then make many stops in Africa and Europe before flying over the North Pole to Anchorage. He may carry representatives from his sponsors on some of the legs, but not on the Antarctic leg. Robert's plans are described in this 12 November KGTV San Diego article. He left San Diego on 15 November and initially flew to Portland, OR before returning to Los Angeles. As of November 26th he was in Panama City, Panama. When he got to southern South America his plans changed; he successfully finished his return flight from Ushuaia over Pole on 16 December. After the Antarctic trip he visited the Falklands over Christmas before continuing north to Brazil and Africa. As of 7 January he was northeast of Durban. The full trip including the Arctic portion was completed during the pandemic on 8 August 2020.

The Longest Journey (archive site)
is Queensland physician Geoff Wilson, who was starting out on a really long solo kite/ski journey--3600 miles--from Thor's Hammer, a 2000-meter peak southwest of Novo, to Pole via the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI), and then a return to Novo via Dome A (Dome Argus), the site of China's summer Kunlun Station. Dome A is the highest plateau on the continent (14,000') and has never been ascended on foot. He was flown to Novo by ALCI on 6 November, and apparently driven to his starting point on 11 November by Arctic Trucks. I'm unable to locate Thor's Hammer on a map or atlas...his planned start point was 72º 0'18.31"S, 10º51'56.96"E, but I'm unsure of the actual start point. On 2 December he reported arriving at the bust of Lenin at the Pole of Inaccessibility, his first expedition milestone. But after losing 3 bottles of fuel due to leakage, he announced on 8 December that he would not visit Pole but instead travel directly to Dome A. He then successfully returned to Thors's Hammer on 3 January and then continued downhill to Novo, after stopping for several hours late that day at 4,500 feet, the wind changed allowing him to reach Novo early on 4 January Novo time (UTC+3) shortly before a serious windstorm hit the base. Here's a map of his final route, this is from his Facebook page where he also posted updates and photos. His final distance of 3297 miles/5306 km is a new distance record for solo unsupported Antarctic travel. Here is his blog which is still online.

Mollie Hughes
age 29 from Edinburgh, was on a solo unsupported ski expedition from Hercules Inlet to Pole. Previously she has summited Everest twice, from both the north and south sides. She hopes to become the youngest woman to do the solo/unsupported trip. Here is a 1 March 2019 Renfriewshire News article about her venture. In February she was training in Norway, followed by two weeks in eastern Greenland. Her Facebook page includes additional info, including updates and photos of her training, and she was also posting updates on Twitter. She was on the first ALE passenger flight to Union Glacier on 10 November...fortunately her sled, stuck in Santiago for a week, arrived in PA in time for her flight south. She set out on the 14th, and on the 26th she crossed 81ºS. On Tuesday 8 January SP time she was at 89º-27'S and hoped to reach Pole by Friday. Earlier, on 27 December, she'd met up with Wendy Searle. She reached Pole on 10 January after traveling 58-1/2 days, although she lost her unsupported status by needing an emergency food resupply near Thiels Corner. Still, she's set a record as the youngest woman to reach Pole solo, as she is 15 days younger than Anja Blacha, who also reached Pole on 10 January 2020.

was a 2019-2020 expedition by Wendy Searle, a mother of four from Salisbury in the UK. Originally her plan was to be a 400-mile trip from the Ross Ice Shelf "coast of Antarctica" up a never-before-climbed glacier to the plateau and thence to Pole with an unnamed guide, but her plans shifted to setting the women's speed record from Hercules Inlet to Pole, solo/unsupported/unassisted. In May 2018, Wendy completed a 27-day crossing of the Greenland ice sheet guided by Lou Rudd (Lou is her expedition manager for her current venture). Here's a January 2019 Guardian article about her plans, and here's an interesting guest blog post she wrote before the Greenland crossing about "how to go to the toilet in the Arctic" and other relevant topics. She left Heathrow on 10 November en route to PA, where as of the 20th she was still waiting to go south. She reached UG on the 23rd and was flown to the starting point on Wednesday the 27th. She reached the Pole after 44 days late on 8 January or perhaps early on 9 January SP time...without resupply. As for a speed record to Pole, that didn't happen...Johanna Davidsson's 39-day record in 2016 remains unbeaten (Explorersweb article). Wendy's travel time was 42 days, 16 hours, and 23 minutes. The other woman who was attempting a speed record is...

Jenny Davis
the London-based lawyer and athlete, planned to complete the solo/unassisted/unsupported ski trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole that she had to abort last season. After traveling more than 200 miles she was running out of food, and was later evacuated to Punta Arenas with a bowel infection and peritonitis. She headed south from England around 18 November and as of the 20th was probably still stuck in PA. Presumably she made it to UG on Saturday the 23rd along with Wendy Searle and was also flown to the starting point on the 27th, but not on the same flight as Wendy. As of 6 January, Jenny was within the last degree, but was suffering from a thigh injury and also having problems with her (only) broken stove. This and other recent updates are on her Twitter feed. She reached Pole on 10 January after receiving an emergency resupply a few days earlier...she'd traveled for 43 days.

Southern Solitaire
is Anja Blacha, a 29-year-old German now living in Zurich, had plans for a solo unsupported/unassisted trek to Pole from Berkner Island...or more specifically the emperor penguin rookery at Gould Bay Camp Cache, which is 125 miles further north than most "Berkner Island" starts. She planned to complete the 870-mile trip in about 60 days. In 2017 she became the youngest German to complete the Seven Summits, earlier in 2019 she summited K2, and she's also crossed Greenland. In mid-October she was interviewed by Ash Routen for Explorersweb, her Facebook page includes a "Not Bad for a Girl" video from, and she also added posts on Instagram. She arrived at Union Glacier around 10 November. She started on the 13th and posted weekly video updates in German on (which I cannot find now). In early January she was on the Plateau but I've seen no exact location. She reached the Pole on 10 January after traveling 57 days 18 hours 50 minutes.

Jing Feng
another Chinese explorer who in 2017-18 was the first Chinese woman to ski to the South Pole (from Hercules Inlet), had a unique expedition planned--a trip from the coast near Novo to the Pole of Inaccessibility. She was accompanied by guides Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer and they did not use kites. This 6 November Xinhuanet news article has more information, including that she flew from Cape Town to Novo on the 5th. As the described distance of their journey is 1100 miles, presumably they would be picked up at their POI destination. According to ExplorersWeb the team was into their fourth week of travel as of 6 December...and by 2 January they were 340 miles from the POI. They arrived on 25 January after traveling about 1120 miles in 77 days, after which they were picked up.

The Women of Antarctica
...specifically the five women listed above (as well as others from previous years), were discussed in this excellent 12 January 2020 Team Fram blog post.

Tanel Tuuleveski
plans to be the first Estonian to ski from the Messner Start to Pole...also solo and unsupported/unassisted. He's previously summited Everest and Vinson, and one reason for his trip is to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bellingshausen Antarctic expedition which was a Russian/Estonian venture. He has posted several updates on of the 20th he was stuck in PA with the others. He also was on the flight to UG on the 23rd and was flown to the Messner Start point on Monday the 25th. He didn't post many reports, but he did reach Pole on 30 December (his photo documentation from Facebook) after a mad dash for the last 20km to catch an ALE plane he could attempt a Vinson summit. So it appears that Tanel was the first of the NGO folks to reach the Pole on foot this season. He completed the Vinson ascent on 2 January--the last of his seven summits.

Jacek Libucha
from Poland, was underway on a solo unsupported ski trip from Hercules Inlet. He was on the flight to Union Glacier on 11 November...and he was flown to the starting point and set out on the 13th. There were not many updates on his website, but he did reach Pole around 2100 UTC on 5 January after traveling for 53 days and 4 hours, per this (mostly in Polish) news article.

90 Degrees South Solo
is Neil Hunter, a Royal Navy veteran, currently a police officer in Surrey, England. He was to fly from PA to Union Glacier on 18 November to begin his solo/unassisted/unsupported ski journey from Hercules Inlet to Pole. As a Type 2 diabetic, he was raising money to support Diabetes UK. He was scheduled to leave the UK around 11 November...on the 20th he was among the group stuck in PA as flights have been delayed. He also was on the flight south on Saturday the 23rd and was also flown to the Hercules Inlet starting point on November 27th. As of 8 January he was at 88º16' S. He also posted updates on his 90 Degrees South Solo Facebook page. He reached Pole on 16 January.

Robert Swan
now age 63, attempted a trek which he calls "Last 300" other words, completing the last 300 miles of his 2017-18 Pole venture that he had to abort because, in his words, he was slowing the group down. After returning home, he had a hip replacement in September 2018. He was accompanied by filmmaker Kyle O'Donoghue and guides Johanna Davidsson and Kathinka Gyllenhammar. They started in the Thiel Mountains near the point from which he was evacuated in December 2017, halfway to the Pole from the Messner Start (82º10'S-65ºW), while leading the South Pole Energy Challenge. This last 300 miles was also to complete Robert's long-term goal of crossing the entire continent, albeit not all at once. The first part of this crossing was the 1985-86 "Footsteps of Scott" expedition from Ross Island to Pole. In October 2019, while preparing for his trip, Robert visited his 104 year old mother in Teesdale, England per this Teesdale Mercury article. He arrived at Union Glacier on 23 November and since then he already suffered a blister on his toe while doing some local skiing. Updates and videos were being posted on the 2041 Foundation Facebook page. The team set off from Thiels Corner on 3 December. But...on 30 December at 88º22'S Robert suffered a severe hip dislocation from a fall (2041 Foundation press release). He was medevaced to Union Glacier and thence to Punta Arenas on 4 January SP time (4 January 2041 Foundation press release). Meanwhile, the rest of his team pushed on to 89ºS where they were met up with their "last degree" team on 5 January. Members of this team include Robert's son Barney, Paulina Villalonga Abscal (age 19), UK/Australian Mary Nicholson, and Americans Rob Miller, John Foster, and Cameron Kerr. Massachusetts native Cameron, who lost his lower left leg in Afghanistan in 2011, was training in Breckenridge in December (15 December Summit Daily article). The total team of 11 people reached Pole on 14 January per their web site. This website page includes a bit more info if you click "continue reading" and scroll to the bottom.

The All Women Expedition to Antarctica (AWETA) (archived site) (postponed from 2018-19)
was a planned 4-woman venture to be led by Malaysian Sharifah Mazlina (full name Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir), who previously made a ski/sailing trip from Pole to Patriot Hills in 2004-05, guided by Mike Sharp. This time she led 3 other women--selection finalists Salehah Abu Nor, Siti Jumaida HJ Bensali, and Nurul Atiqah Tamarun--on a trek from...not Union Glacier but from 89ºS, to Pole beginning in November 2019. One of the goals is to retrieve a time capsule she left at Pole in 2004...while leaving another one to be uncovered by future generations of Malaysian women, perhaps in 2050. Three 2018 news articles--this one from This Week in Asia describes her 2004-05 venture, and this one from the Sun daily has more details about the training and the upcoming trip, and this New Straits Times article mentions the time capsules. Not much detail available from the website...the now-deleted FAQ was presented in Malay graphics. At a press conference on about 23 October 2018 they announced the postponement of the event to 2019-20 (graphic of announcement). The original plans involved six women...there was limited information on their Facebook page. And...from that FB page it turns out that this was a Last Degree venture...starting on the 24th and reaching Pole on New Years Eve SP time. Here's a YouTube video of the team arriving at the Pole ALE tourist camp--this was once available on the expedition home page.

Richard Parks
who aborted a 2018-19 trip to Pole after difficult snow conditions and what he described as body failure, announced a trek to Pole per this 11 November 2019 ExplorersWeb article, but as of the New Year there was nothing about it on his website or anywhere else. BUT...on 11 January he emerged on social media to say that he'd been in Antarctica since mid-December (11 January Instagram post from his website) and left Hercules Inlet for Pole on 17 December. As of 13 January he'd made it to the last degree, but was he carrying enough food? Here's the 13 January ExplorersWeb story. He arrived at Pole on 15 January as reported in this BBC News article...and he also posted this and other updates/photos on Instagram.

Xu Wen
a 32 year old Chinese scientist and mountaineer, had also announced a major solo unsupported ski manhauling journey, starting from Berkner Island, to Pole, and originally planning to finish at the base of the Axel Heiberg Glacier--3231 miles--longer than the distance covered by Lou Rudd and Colin O'Brady last summer. He's posted some updates here on Facebook, and this 13 November Adventure Blog post describes his plans and references this 22 October China Daily article. As of 20 November he was underway. His original plans had him finish at China's newest and fifth Antarctic station on Inexpressible Island, but that would require SAR support. As of 30 December he'd crossed 87ºS en route to Pole, and on 8 January he crossed 89ºS. He reached Pole on 10 January at the same time as Anja Blacha. He was planning to continue north, but he head to cancel that because of delays--soft snow on Berkner Island--and his supplies were delayed 12 days in Chilean customs due to ongoing riots and strikes. He posted photos and updates here on Instagram.

Lucy Reynolds
a nearly 40-year-old breast cancer survivor from London, was underway on a guided/assisted trip to Pole from Hercules Inlet...the ALE Ski South Pole Expedition. She was flown to the starting point on the 27th...the group was guided by Christian Styve, although I don't know about the rest of the team. As of 8 January they had reached 87.8ºS...they crossed the last degree on the 14th and reached Pole on the 18th.

Jaco Ottink and Paula Strengell
were being guided to Pole from Hercules Inlet by Ryan Waters of Mountain Professionals. Ottink (originally from the Netherlands) had previously climbed the Seven Summits. They were on the flight to the starting point on the 27th along with Neil Hunter and Wendy Searle. They crossed 87ºS in early January and reached the Pole on the 17th after traveling 52 days.

Ski South Pole Axel Heiberg
was the first ALE guided trip on this route which followed Roald Amundsen's route up the Axel Heiberg Glacier, starting with a visit to the cairn Amundsen left behind on Mount Betty. They reached Pole on 12 January. Not much detail, but his and other ALE-supported expeditions are discussed on this ALE news page.

Headsouth 2020
was an 11-person "last degree" venture led by Brits Michael Tobin, Louis Moody, and Alan Chambers. They planned to raise money for brain tumor research--here's their justgiving page as well as this 2 December article on the page. They arrived in PA on New Years Day before heading south....and after traveling for 10 days from 89ºS they reached Pole on 12 January per this Brain Tumour Charity article; the effort raised more than £300K.

Not On... Olivia Gourley
currently 15, from Stewiake, Nova Scotia, planned a Pole trip in 2019-20 along with her 42-year-old father Chris. Not a lot of details yet, but the two intended to start from the Union Glacier base and ski to Pole alone and unsupported/unresupplied. At age 11 Olivia had major spinal surgery to deal with scoliosis (abnormal spine curvature), but the following year she was fit enough for a 5-day hike with her father in high-altitude Peru. More here from this 21 August 2018 CTV News article with video. I've seen no recent news, and her website and her GoFundMe site were deactivated with no archive. And at this point in the season their venture obviously has not happened.


Announced NGO Antarctic ventures for 2018-19, and how they turned out:

Colin O'Brady at the end of his trek
Above, Colin O'Brady calls his wife Jenna Besaw after completing his "Impossible
First" crossing of Antarctica on day 54, 27 December SP time, after reaching the
juncture between the Leverett Glacier and the Ross Ice Shelf marked by the wooden
post seen behind him. The post is a route marker for the South Pole Traverse route,
which Colin used...creating more than a bit of controversy, e.g. "Did he really cross
Antarctica?" and "Was he unsupported?" The Antarctic crossing "race" between
O'Brady and Lou Rudd was extensively covered by international media...see below
for more detail and links. This photo was shared by Colin on Instagram as was this
closeup photo of the route marker post.
Colin O'Brady
originally from Portland, Oregon, set off on a solo unassisted/unsupported Antarctica ski crossing, beginning at the Messner Start at the head of the Ronne Ice Shelf (82ºS-65ºW), traveling to Pole and thence to the head of the Ross Ice Shelf at the foot of the Leverett Glacier (which of course implies that he's using the South Pole Traverse route from Pole. Colin has previously completed the "Adventurers Grand Slam" which includes reaching the Seven Summits and traversing to both the North and South Poles (these were "last degree" trips). He was dropped off at the starting point (along with Lou Rudd) by AL&E on 4 November 2018 SP time. He reached Thiels Corner on the 20th, one day ahead of Lou Rudd. By 3 December SP time he was 162 miles from Pole. He reached Pole on 12 December (day 40), and on 23 December after day 50 he was at 86.7ºS-135ºW with 122 miles to go. His blog posts are here on Instagram if you scroll way way down. And at 0640 SP time on the 27th he reached the goal, the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, after an incredible 77-1/2 mile 32-hour push. Here's the 26 December 2018 New York Times article about the completion...which was followed a week later by this Times editorial. Not behind a paywall...several ExplorersWeb articles including this one by Damien Gildea: Crossing Antarctica: How the Confusion Began and Where Do We Go From Here.

Lou Rudd
a British Army captain, completed a planned unsupported solo crossing by the same route used by Henry Worsley in his fatal crossing attempt in 2015-16--from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf via Pole. In 2016-17, Lou led the SPEAR 17 expedition of British Army reservists in a ski trek from Hercules Inlet to Pole. Here's an 18 April ExplorersWeb interview with Lou about the venture. Interestingly, while all of his publicity indicated he was starting at Hercules Inlet, he was dropped off at the Messner Start on 4 November, a mile away from Colin O'Brady. Are they racing? Here is Lou's general website, which has more information, as most of the expedition coverage on sponsor Shackleton London's website has been taken down, although there still is a good March 2019 interview with Mark on that general website. As of 25 November, Lou had completed 19 percent of the distance to Pole, and by 3 December he was about 35 miles behind Colin O'Brady. He reached Pole on the 13th; by the 23rd (also day 50 for him) he was reporting 163 miles to go, perhaps a day or two behind Colin. By the 28th he had 19-1/2 statute miles left to go before meeting up with Colin O'Brady at the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf at their ALE pickup point. Which he reached at 1021 on the 29th SP time per this New York Times article.

The "Crossing Antarctica" controversy between Colin O'Brady and Lou Rudd... is more of my coverage which includes some historical New York Times articles about Amundsen and Scott as well as some excellent maps of Antarctic expeditions created by Eric Philips.

The Spanish "Antarctica Unexplored 2018-19" campaign
led by polar explorer and Windsled designer Ramón Larramendi, along with biologist Ignacio Oficialdegui, engineer Manuel Olivera, and guide Hilo Moreno, completed a 1500-mile triangular journey from south of Novo, to the abandoned Plateau Station, to near the summit of Dome Fuji and the Japanese Fuji Dome Station, and return, using their well-proven Windsled (a large skid-mounted tent complex with an open-ended "handling" tent where folks sit handling the "reins" of a huge kite. They departed from a point about 110 miles south of Novo on 12 December and returned to their starting point on 1 February. They did significant science along the way--the Windsled has been similarly used for a number of such projects in Antarctica and Greenland. And of interest to me, they did get to explore the interior of Plateau Station and camp in front of the (originally) 100' met tower which is still standing. Photos of that and the rest of the trip are in their diary as well as in this Explorersweb article and this Adventure Journal report.

The Marine Live-Ice Automobile Expedition
was a significant project by the Russian Geographical Society. They used two Yemelya 6x6 ATV's pulling a total of four trailers and two sledges to travel a total of about 6000 km from the Plateau Station site, to the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI), to Pole, and thence north to Vostok and Progress. They reached Pole on 23 December and left the next day for Vostok, which they reached on New Years morning...only to press on the same day. They reached Progress on the coast on 13 January...their vehicles were loaded onto the supply vessel there while the crew was flown back to Novo in a Basler. Here's the link to their diary which includes photos.

Joe Doherty
age 25, a former Boy Scout from Andover, England, was on the way to Pole with...uh, 3 others--Grazyna Machnik (from Poland), Rakonczay Gábor (from Hungary) and AL&E guide Christian Iversen Styve (from Norway). Earlier, Joe had announced the first scout-led Pole expedition for 2018-19 where he would be accompanied by fellow Scout Oliver Robinson from Portchester, in what was titled Hampshire Scout Expedition (HSX). In February the two did a training expedition in Norway. Here's a 12 May BBC News article. Joe got to Union Glacier on 20 November, and the group was flown to their starting point on the 24th. Although previously announced as unsupported, the blog posts from UG indicates they will be resupplied at Thiels Corner and at Pole, where Joe (at least) will also get kiting equipment. Thiels Corner is where the Messner and Hercules Inlet routes come together, so it is also a refueling site for ALE's Twin Otters. As of 7 December the group was at 84.1ºS-75.4ºW. By 22 December he was about 260 miles from Pole. And by 4 January they'd reached 89.24ºS. The group reached Pole on 8 January on the 45th day of their trek, and then ski/kited back to Hercules Inlet, arriving on about 24 January. Meanwhile, the ALE guided "Ski South Pole" team that started at Hercules Inlet also reached Pole on the 8th. Joe's website and blog are gone, but there is a bit of information here., as well as reports and photos on his Twitter feed.

Baz (Barry John) Gray (archived site)
is a 26-year veteran of the Royal Marines Commando currently living in southwest Devon, England. His plan for 2018-19 was that this solo unsupported unassisted ski trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole was to be part one of a 2-season venture; he planned an 1800-mile solo ski crossing of Antarctica to sort of duplicate part of Shackleton's 1907-09 route from the north end of Berkner Island to McMurdo Sound, via the Shackleton Glacier and Pole in 2019-20. This was postponed to 2020-21 and never happened...note that Shackleton's 1907-09 expedition of course used the Beardmore Glacier to get to the plateau. He was being supported by AL&E out of Union of course they would need to pick him on Ross Island at the end of his trek there. His original website with map has disappeared, but most of his blog posts appear on his sponsor SATcase site linked above. He also posted updates on social media including this Facebook page. He started on 30 November, and as of 7 December he was at 81.1ºS-80.2ºW. By 23 December he was 334 miles from Pole. By 5 January he was well past 89ºS with only 47 miles left to go to reach Pole. And he arrived on the morning of 7 January SP time.

Masatatsu Abe (Japanese language site)
a 35-year-old Japanese rickshaw driver, completed a solo unassisted/unsupported walk from the Messner Start in 2018-19. He's been planning this trek for several years. There is hardly anything about his journey on his website linked above, but this 15 November 2018 ExplorersWeb interview/story about him and other explorers indicates that he was in Punta Arenas buying supplies. Here is a 2 November ExWeb interview with him. He was scheduled to fly to Union Glacier on the 18th and begin his traverse on the 20th, but he flew south on the 20th and set out on the 24th. He did post updates on this Japanese language Facebook page. As of 22 December he was at 84.9ºS-80.4ºW. Around Christmas time he opted to request a food resupply because of his slow travels. By 5 January he'd crossed 86.8ºS, and he reached Pole on the 17th--the last NGO traveler to reach Pole in the 2018-19 season. But he said he wasn't done, at the time he was planning another venture in 2019-20 (currently on for 2021-22) to complete the route to Pole that the Japanese explorer Army Lieutenant Nobu Shirase had attempted in January 1912. Shirase crossed the Ross Ice Shelf reaching a furthest south of 80º05'S-156º37'W on 29 January 1912. Reportedly he'd met up with Amundsen's expedition near the Bay of Whales as they were returning from Pole.

Taiwan's "Antarctica Expedition"
sponsored by the Gamania Cheer Up Foundation, was originally planned to be a 410-mile "Coast to Pole" route, and it began on 13 November 2018. But due to food supply issues and weather conditions it was shortened to a 217-mile "Antarctic Plateau Route" starting at an altitude of 8350 feet along the SPoT traverse route. Supported by Arctic Trucks, the group originated from Union Glacier. It was led by Gamania founder Albert Liu, along with ultra-marathon winner Tommy Chen, celebrity Chris Wang, and 20-year-old members of the Big Dream Youth--Sherry Lin and Gary Wiu. Additionally, director Yang Li-chou accompanied the group in the Arctic Trucks vehicles to film the journey per this Taiwan Today article. They reached Pole on 23 December 2018 SP time. Other articles: this per this Business Wire report, this Taiwan News article, and this Gamania blog post in which Chris Wang describes some of the interpersonal difficulties at the beginning of the venture. And this just in...a documentary about this venture, Nature of Mother was scheduled to be presented at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in November 2022 per this 9 October 2022 Taipei Times article. .

Arctic Trucks
was back on the ice this year as described above. I haven't found any details from them, but Joe Doherty reported from Union Glacier in a since-vanished 23 November blog post that they were heading to Pole and thence to the Ross Ice Shelf...and that they were going to pick up the Taiwanese group described above. Not a lot of info...except that it seems that the southbound SPoT 2 encountered the group on the traverse route about 120 miles from Pole (traverse member Thor Lossen's 14 December blog post) (archive site; scroll down).

Matthieu Tordeur (French language site)
at age 26 and from France, was also on the South Pole expedition list. He, like Jenny Davis, started from Hercules Inlet. On 17 November local time he was in Punta Arenas--from Eric Larsen's 23 November post, Matthieu was at the Hercules Inlet start site with Eric. On 23 December (day 28 of his originally planned 50 days) he was at 84.42ºS-80.9ºW. His blog posts are here on Instagram (in French), as well as on the web site. At some poin, Matthieu ran into a bunch of tourists who were fresh from a Pole visit...being driven by Arctic Trucks per this 5 January 2019 Explorersweb article with a photo (as well as more info about Pole trekkers. On 4 January he was at 87,4ºS. He reached Pole on the morning of 14 January SP time, the next-to-last person to arrive at the ALE camp.

Aborted! Eric Larsen
had also jumped into the "speed record" thing...he suddenly announced that he will be tackling the Hercules Inlet-Pole speed record. He's trekked to Pole before, most recently in 2014. Here's a 12 November ExplorersWeb interview with him. The link above is to his journal index; this 11 November blog post describes his plans in a recreated press release. He left Boulder, CO on the 13th, arrived in Punta Arenas on the 14th, and at Union Glacier on the 19th (local times). He was flown to the Hercules Inlet start point on the 23rd and set out the next morning (24 November SP time). he was planning for a fast trip, he only carried food for ~24-26 days. And with lots of bad weather, on day 21/16 December he found himself still 290 miles from he called it quits per this journal entry.

Aborted! Laval St Germain
from Calgary, was the only Canadian to have summited Everest without oxygen. He headed to Antarctica to climb the last of his seven summits--Mt. Vinson. Not leaving it at that, before the climb he was to ski solo from Hercules Inlet to Pole before being flown back to the ALE Vinson base camp for the summit effort. Laval has previously lost parts of 3 fingers from frostbite. When he's not doing extreme stuff, he is a pilot for Canadian North airline. On 18 November he was in PA, and he flew south on the 19th. Eric Larsen reported on the 23rd that he also was at Hercules Inlet. He set out for Pole on about the 24th, but on 7 December he decided to quit the Pole trip due to the bad weather he'd encountered, as well as issues with his warped pulk. He was flown back to UG on about the 10th. ExplorersWeb reported on 22 December that he STILL was at Union Glacier and hadn't yet been to Mt. Vinson. A recent blizzard at UG destroyed 8 tents. He summited Vinson on New Years Eve local time, and returned to Punta Arenas on 4 January. His detailed updates were posted here on Instagram.

Aborted! Jenny Davis (this website does not describe the 2018-19 attempt, only her successful one in 2019-20)
a 33-year-old London-based lawyer turned athlete (she completed the 250km Marathon des Sables in 2015), announced her solo/unsupported/unassisted trek from Hercules Inlet to Pole beginning in November 2018. Here is an 11 October article which describes the venture, her training, and her nutrition. In a 15 November interview with The Times (London) she said she'd be starting out on the 27th, while Explorersweb reported she won't begin until December. She reached Union Glacier on 27 November and flew to the Mt. Vinson base camp the next acclimatize, not to summit. She was flown to her starting point on 12 December and set out on the 16th. While originally hoping to set a speed record, as of the 22nd she'd only been averaging about 11 miles per day. By 3 January she'd traveled 209 miles, with 506 miles still to go. 7 January she had abandoned her trip, called for pickup, and was in a Punta Arenas hospital with suspected appendicitis.

Aborted! Richard Parks
who was the fastest Brit to ski solo/unsupported to Pole in 2014 (archive site), only recently decided to throw his balaclava into the "race" with an attempt to reach Pole from Hercules Inlet. He set out on 19 December; by the 23rd (day 4) he'd traveled 90 miles. His detailed updates are best seen on his Facebook page. But...on day 17--4 January SP time-- he decided to call it quits and summon a pickup, as his body was starting to fail him in difficult soft snow conditions. He documented the expedition including the reasons to end it on this series of podcasts. He was flown back to UG on 5 January.

Aborted! Clean2Antarctica
was a planned return drive to Pole (745 miles each way) from Union Glacier by Liesbeth and Edwin ter Velde of the Netherlands, using the solar-powered "Solar Voyager," a vehicle constructed from plastic waste with the help of 3-D printers. It was to be towing 2 trailers with 10 solar panels, as well as vacuum solar tubes for melting snow. Here's a June 2018 CompositesWorld article about the venture--it also describes the preliminary seagoing component of the project--a tall ship voyage to Patagonia with a crew of students and young professionals. They set out on the first leg of the trip--from Amsterdam to Tenerife in the Canary Islands aboard the Morganster on 29 August per this article. As of 7 November, the Solar Voyager was in Chile, They flew south to Union Glacier on the 30th and got started a few days later--not a lot of detail on their travels or route, but on 20 December they announced that they would not reach Pole, presumably because of the strong winds and heavy snow that have plagued other travelers as well. Here's a brief 19 December BBC News video about the end of the expedition.

Never started...Jan Meek
from the UK, announced in January of 2018 that she was planning to lead a 5-woman team, dubbed the "Polar Maidens," to the South Pole in 2018-19. Still not much information from her about her detailed plans, other than she plans to take "the 200-mile trek that Robert Scott didn't survive in 1912" in this 2 January Richmond & Twickenham Times article. Jan completed a trek to the North Pole in 2008. The most recent info on this project comes from this July 2018 Times of India article which does not elaborate on the expedition plans...but it does say that the trip would include a total of six women--including two from India--Madhabilata Mitra (age 36) of Kolkota and Tanvi Buch (24) from Mumbai. The other women are Caroline Gereaty (60) from the UK, Aileen Crean O'Brien from Ireland, and Canadian Denise Martin. Jan Meek is 74. Aileen Crean O'Brien is the granddaughter of Irish explorer Tom Crean, who participated in both of Scott's expeditions as well as Shackleton's 1914 failed venture...see this 20 September Irish Independent (Dublin) news article, which describes the venture as a 150-mile traverse. As of mid-November 2018 Jan's website had been taken down.

Never started...Eirliani Abdul Rahman
from Singapore, was planning to be the first woman from that nation to visit Pole--her plans now are to do it in 2018-19. She'd originally proposed this for 2016-17, to be guided by Sarah McNair-Landry, but that didn't happen. As for the current season, there is no expedition website, and there's not much more about her plans other than media such as this 9 August 2017 Straits Times article. In March and April 2017 she was training in Canada, and more recently she's been dragging truck tires around. She now works for the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, and she planned to move to the US to work in their Washington, DC office.

Never started...Nabil Al Busaidi
from Oman, announced on his website a plan to become the first Arab to travel from Hercules Inlet to Pole in 2019. That was further news there or anywhere else. But he does have an interesting history, including a North Pole venture and a Vinson well as earlier plans to trek to Pole in 2011-12 which never happened either. Much more about him and his earlier ventures and plans...

Zero South (here is an alternate archived link)
is an outfit I wasn't going to give up on, but perhaps I should, as their website is down, and they haven't posted anything on their Facebook page since September 2017. Their delayed plans involve a 1200-mile Pole trip starting from Union Glacier (to ??) using two massively converted Hummer H1 vehicles...the conversion included not only the installation of Mattrack-like tracks, but also a hybrid power plant where the biofuel-burning engines power generators with batteries, and the drive wheels are powered by electric motors. During January-February 2016 they set out on a planned trip from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay using rubber tires. They then switched to tracks at nearby Oliktok Point for a planned round trip to Barrow. From there they continued west on the sea about 50 miles west of Oliktok point, where track issues caused them to turn around. Their final report on this trip is here...and more recently this K&N Filters page details the modifications made to the H1's for the polar trips. The vehicles were presented in Los Angeles during the April 2017 March for Science, one of several items presented on their Facebook page. They plan another test excursion in November 2017, which means that the earliest that the Antarctic trip would happen is 2018-19. And for housing they will be towing a heavily modified 23-foot 1962 Airstream trailer they're calling the Snowstream. And I must mention that Oliktok Point, perhaps 50 miles northwest of Deadhorse, is still the site of a radar station, originally a DEW Line site where a guy named Art Brown worked in 1961.


What happened (or didn't happen) with NGO visitors in 2017-18:
Ventures that happened at least in part:

Ben Saunders at the Pole
Ben Saunders' hero shot at the Ceremonial Pole on 30 December 2017 SP time...
from his archived blog post.
Cut short! Ben Saunders (archived link to his blog)
no stranger to Antarctica, was departing the UK on about 27 October 2017 to set off on what he called the first solo and unsupported crossing...something originally planned by Ben's friend Henry Worsley, who almost finished before falling ill and passing away in a Chile hospital in January 2016. Ben dedicated his trek in memory of Henry Worsley and used a similar route. Ben's plans were to traverse from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf via Pole and the Shackleton Glacier. Here is a 20 October Outside Online interview with Ben about the venture...and an 8 November Daily Mail article, which includes a photo of his fiancée Pip Harrison (they became engaged in July) as well as the info that one of his major sponsors is Canada Goose...seller of Big Reds with their knockoff of the USAP logo. Ben arrived UG on the first IL-76 flight on 4 November, and was dropped off at his starting point on the 9th thanks to good weather. After 10 days he was at 82ºS; on 11 December he was about 250 miles from Pole. He reached Pole on 30 December but opted to discontinue the rest of his planned trip to the Ross Ice Shelf as he'd run short of food due to delays (29 December Telegraph article which is now behind a paywall).

Yasunaga Ogita
a 40 year old Japanese adventurer from Takasu, Hokkaido, attempted a solo unassisted trip from Hercules Inlet beginning in mid-November. In the past few years he made two unsuccessful attempts to reach the North Pole. His venture was publicized in this 22 September 2017 Japan Times article. He headed south from Japan to Punta Arenas on 10 November and was dropped off at his starting point on the 17th. His blog with photos is here, and his position map is here. As of 7 December he was about 1/3 of the way on the 700 mile/1130km distance. And as of 5 January he was close...expecting to arrive at Pole on the 6th...which he did, accounted in this Japan Times article.

Davor Rostuhar (Diary index) (Croatian language site)
is a 35-year-old Croatian writer and photographer who has traveled extensively worldwide and written six books, including one for National Geographic. He was attempting to be the first Croatian to reach the South Pole...on a solo unsupported trek from Hercules Inlet. After an initial visit to ALE in Punta Arenas, he opted to travel from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia and travel by cruise ship to visit the Peninsula. As of late November he was still on a cruise ship...when that returned north he returned to PA and was flown to Union Glacier on 27 November. He was flown to Hercules Inlet on 1 December. By the 12th he was at 81º15'S and had traveled 180km. And by 8 January he'd reached 88º the 12th he was at 88º-40'S. He reached Pole on the 18th South Pole his claim in this Total Croatia News article, he's the 20th person to complete the Pole journey solo and unsupported. His was the next-to-last NGO venture to reach Pole this season; the Norwegians Astrid Furholt and Jan Sverre Sivertsen arrived a few hours later. Davor's main website (in English and Croatian) with more information about him and his previous projects, is here.

Scott Sears aka the Antarctic Gurkha (archive page)
an Englishman who became a British Army officer after failed attempts to become a tennis pro and a country music singer in Boise (and then got a law degree), was underway on a solo ski trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole. He reached UG on 15 November and was flown to Hercules Inlet on the 17th. As of 11 December he was doing 85.4ºS with about 320 miles left to Pole. He successfully reached Pole on 27 December.

Leo Houlding/Spectre Expedition...
Leo is a 37-year-old rock climber from the Lake District of northern England. He led a unique "off-road" Antarctic crossing/climbing expedition, accompanied by Frenchman Jean Burgun and Marc Sedon of Christchurch. Unique in part because their plans did NOT include a visit to Pole unless time permitted. Their plans were to be flown from Union Glacier to 88ºS-110ºW--the practical limit of ALE's Twin Otter...from there they kite-skied north to the Organ Pipe Peaks in the Gothic Mountains (86ºS-150ºW) where they spent about 20 days climbing. Their original plans included the technical south face buttress (2500' climb/6600' above sea level) of the expedition namesake Spectre. After that, they continued north down the Scott Glacier to the Ross Ice Shelf, manhauled back to the depot at their dropoff point, and kite-skied/manhauled back to Union Glacier. Other info...this 27 October Financial Times article and this 31 October Cumbria Crack article. Also of note...this blog post by geologist Ed Stump describing his first and only other ascent of the Spectre with his brother Mugs in 1980-81...using the much less technical north side. As for the Spectre team, they arrived at UG on 15 November on the second IL-76 flight. They were dropped off at their starting point on 21 November. By 8 December they had reached the Gothic Mountains and summited their goal, the Spectre, using much of the north face route followed by Mugs and Ed Stump years earlier. After some more serious climbing, they opted to not head north 60 miles to the Ross Ice Shelf, but instead head south. And they later opted not to visit 90º of 3 January they were awaiting favorable winds to kite them toward Union Glacier...which they got. By 5 January they were making great kiting speed on the established route from Pole to Union Glacier, with 280 miles left to travel. They arrived in spectacular fashion at Union Glacier on 11 January. Here's a 2 February article about Mark Sedon, the Kiwi member of the team.

Jade Hameister (archive site) with guide Eric Philips
Jade was a 16-year-old girl from Melbourne, on a 2017-18 ski trip to Pole) using a new 375-mile route from the southeast corner of the Ross Ice Shelf up the Reedy and Kansas Glaciers (the Kansas Glacier is a tributary to the Reedy). She was accompanied by her father Paul Hameister, who also happens to be the 12th Australian to climb the Seven Summits, guide Eric Philips, assistant Heath Jamieson, and National Geographic photographer Ming D'Arcy who was capturing stuff for a future documentary. Oh, by the way, Jade, Paul, and Eric were in the midst of a Greenland ski crossing east from Kangerlussuaq in May 2017. Not a lot of details originally appeared on Jade's website, but Eric posted frequent blog updates on his site as well as daily email updates. Also, here's a 19 November 2017 Australian news article from The Age. As of 5 December they were at Union Glacier, and on the 6th they were flown to their starting point at 85º14'S-139º38'W. Since then they've made slow and steady progress; by 5 January they were at 89º10'S. They reached Pole on the 11th. Here's a article!

Robert Swan's South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC) (archived site)
was underway on this, his latest South Pole adventure--note that this Royal Dutch Shell website includes a video from the team. Robert started the trip with 3 others including his son Barney, filmmaker Kyle O'Donoghue, and guide/leader Martin Barnett on a man-hauling trip to Pole...relying solely on renewable energy. The renewable energy was coming from new technology solar well as backup liquid fuels made from coffee beans, food waste etc., and solar powered snow melters that operated as they travel, speeding up their dinner preparation as they only had to heat the water, not melt the snow first. The team was being resupplied from caches. In December 2016 Robert was spending a week at the Union Glacier camp with an international team, making additional plans for the 2017 a venture he called IAE 80ºS (MediaGreen news article) (archive site). By 20 November the team had reached Union Glacier, and they were dropped off at their "Messner Start" starting point (82ºS-65ºW on the Ronne Ice Shelf) on 22 November. However, on 18 December (day 27 of the venture) Robert Swan was flown back to Union Glacier after fearing that his travel speed was slowing the others down. As of 6 January, Martin, Kyle, and Barney were at 88º30'S...when they reached 89ºS on 11 January, they were joined by a Last Degree team accompanied by Robert Swan. By midday on the 13th South Pole time they were at 89º39'S.

Astrid Furholt (archived page)
of Norway, was underway on a 2017-18 ski trip to Pole following Amundsen's original 850-mile route from the Bay of Whales site and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier to the plateau...her intent was to be the first woman to track Roald Amundsen's entire route. She was accompanied by Jan Sverre Sivertsen, and they were being mentored by Børge Ousland and others. Their plans were to recreate Amundsen's route to Pole from the Bay of Whales. They were supported by AL&E out of Union Glacier--so they were flown to the base of the Axel Heiberg Glacier on the Ross Ice Shelf. From there they ski-sailed north toward the Bay of Whales. Due to poor weather, they turned around after traversing about 40% of the Ross Ice Shelf, and man-hauled their sledges to the Pole. Thus, they would actually travel about 1200 miles. Astrid's older website is here. They were dropped of at their starting point on 13 November. As of 6 December they were at about 84.5ºS. By the 10th they'd left the Ross Ice Shelf and climbed up Mount Betty, a small ridge at 85ºS-163ºW, where they located a cairn and cache left by Roald Amundsen in 1911, as well as a plaque added by Monica Kristensen in 1986-87. As of 3 January they were at 86º40'S. They were traveling slowly then, but have more recently increased their daily mileage. By 13 January they were at 88º-48'S..and they had hopes of reaching Pole by the 17th. They did make it on the 18th South Pole time....the last NGO group to reach that silver ball this summer.

Exercise Ice Maiden (archived site)
was a British Army team of women who planned a 1000+ mile walk from the base of the Leverett Glacier to Hercules Inlet via Pole and the SPoT route. This was planned for 2017-18, but they were busy training back in 2016. Here is a September 2016 Telegraph article (which is now behind a paywall) about their plans and preparation. Before they began, there wasn't much recent info on their website, but their Facebook page (which is no longer available) had more current info...including mention of their departure for Chile on 25 October. Earlier, there was their June 2017 announcement of the the final team selection: Nics Wetherill, Nat Taylor, Sandy Hennis, Zanna Baker, Jenni Stephenson and Sophie Montagne. Also see this March 2017 Daily Star article about their training. They arrived at the UG camp on the first IL-76 flight on 4 November...and on 20 November they were finally flown to their starting point. They reached Pole early on Sunday 17 December where they rested up and got resupplied for the leg to Hercules Inlet. The first two ALE "last degree" trekker groups also arrived around the same time. And they completed their entire mission, returning to Hercules Inlet at 2300 20 January (BBC News article). The six women are the largest all-female group to complete such a return journey to Pole.

AL&E's Ski South Pole Hercules Inlet team
set off from there on 21 November. This trip included five clients--Anne-Elisabeth Eskerud and Jon Erik Thunold from Norway, Angelo Felgueiras of Portugal, and David Woodman and Ali Negyal from the UK. They were guided by Carl Alvey (UK) and Christian Iversen Styve (Norway). They received 3 resupplies and reached Pole in mid-January. Their information (and other info I used here) came from this ALE 2017-18 expeditions review.

Feng Jing (forgive me for not knowing the proper order of her name which I've also seen as Jing Feng)
became the first Chinese woman to travel the 700-mile distance from Hercules Inlet to Pole. She was not part of the AL&E group...rather she was separately supported by Polar Consultants and guided by Paul Landry. They left Hercules Inlet on 16 November and reached Pole on 8 January, per this 15 February 2018 Xinhua news article and this 11 April Women of China report (archived site).
What didn't come off:
Jethro De Decker
a 33-year-old actuary from South Africa currently working in Singapore, had announced plans to do an unsupported, unassisted "fastest known time" trip from the coast to Pole. As of late October 2017, there still was nothing on his blog about his detailed plans...his most recent post discussed his completion of 100 miles (out of a planned 300 miles) of the Yukon Quest ultramarathon in February. This 9 March article in The Actuary has more information. But as of 7 December there was no recent news about his trip. He was still training, but on 6 December he ran the Singapore the Antarctic trip was obviously not on for this season.

Priya Venkatesh
a management training instructor living in Bangalore, had announced plans to put together an all-Indian team for a South Pole venture in 2017-18. She previously visited the continent in 2011 as part of Robert Swan's 2041 program "Leadership on the Edge." As of 26 October 2017 there was nothing out there since several December 2016 news articles such as this one from The Times of India.

Sir Chris Hoy
a six-time champion Olympic cyclist, had announced a 423-mile cycling trip to Pole from the Amundsen Coast...and more recently he'd announced he would be accompanied on his fat bike by fellow Brit Jason Kenny, who also holds 6 cycling gold medals. Of course, the Amundsen Coast is also the location of the base of the Leverett Glacier, which meant that he'd planned to the South Pole Traverse did Maria Leijerstam in December 2013 (Maria's blog). James was hoping to beat Maria's record time of 10 days 14 hours 56 minutes. Earlier in 2017 Chris was still looking for a sponsor, he had no website that I could find, and his Facebook page does not mention the Pole venture. Still, he mentioned the trip in a late September 2017 interview, and he'd been ruing the fact that he'd miss the first weeks of his second child's life while on the ice. Here's a June 2017 article about his plans. This 15 November 2017 Daily Mail article indicated he's postponed the Pole venture until 2018-19. This February 2018 Guardian article quotes him as saying "next year." Which did not happen.

James Redden
from Buckinghamshire in southeast England, was planning a solo unsupported full trip from Hercules Inlet to Pole in 2017-18, a venture he titled "North by South 2017," but in mid-October he announced its cancellation due to lack of funds. In In April of 2016, he completed a "last 2 degree" trip to the North Pole. In March 2017 he completed a 2-week solo ski training trip in Norway...although weather and baggage issues meant he only covered half the planned distance. Here's a 28 February 2017 article about his plans from The Bucks Herald. He'd been discussing his plans and training program on his blog. Also here is his page seeking donations originally seeking donations for a 2018 (Arctic?) venture, the current page says it is for a 2021-22 venture which I do not have other word of. Elsewhere earlier he'd mentioned a possible Pole venture in 2019.