Antarctica 2009: Ryan and Cecilie Are Done!!

I posted an Antarctic update earlier in the day, but thought this was worth it’s own post as well. In the earlier update I noted that Ryan Waters and Cecilie Skogs were closing in on their goal of traversing across the continent, and they’ve just sent back a dispatch saying that they have completed their expedition. Here is the complete text from the dispatch:

We are very pleased to announce that Cecilie Skog of Norway and Ryan Waters of the USA, have completed the first ever un-supported/un-assisted ski traverse of Antarctica!

The team skied 1,117 miles/1,800 kilometers over 70 days from Berkner Island in the Ronne/Filchner Sea to the South Pole, then continued to the Ross Sea to complete a full traverse of the continent.

more soon…

Pretty impressive work from the two adventurers. Completing an unsupported traverse is an amazing accomplishment, and I want to congratulate Ryan and Cecilie for a job well done. Great work you two!

With this expedition coming to an end, the 2009 Antarctic Season is really coming to a close. There are a few things still going on down there, and a few teams still on Vinson and some other peaks, but the window will be closing soon, and the number of people living in Antarctica will once again return to a very small number. At least until the 2010 season, when things will certainly get interesting once again.

Kraig Becker

10 thoughts on “Antarctica 2009: Ryan and Cecilie Are Done!!”

  1. Certainly admirable but I am curious about their claim of first – could be some nuance in their claim.

    Borge Ousland completed a traverse in 1996/97. From his website on his solo unsupported/assisted crossing:

    Alone and unsupported across Antarctica . Started from the Weddel Sea 15 th of November, via the South Pole, to Scott Base in the Ross Sea . Duration 64 days. Distance 2845 km . At the time the longest ski expedition in history in distance covered. First person to ski alone and unsupported across Antarctica .

  2. I guess it breaks down to the definition of "unsupported/Unassisted" which is their distinction. You'll notice that Borge's says "Unsupported/Assisted".

    You know how these "first" claims can be Alan.

  3. He was very much unassisted. I know all this because I was on Cho Oyu with him. He even refused a cup of tea at the South Pole station.

    It was my phrase on unsupported/assisted. I should have said unsupported/unassisted.

    You are right Kraig in these claims, but it is irritating when someone claims something that has already been done as a first – no class.

    I bet ExWeb will be all over this if their claim is not substantiated.

  4. ExWeb is now saying it is the first crossing unassisted in that it was done on skis and under human power, while earlier expeditions used kites. Guess they're backing up the claims.

  5. Good for them, then.

    It would have been nice to mention other's techniques in their PR as a nod to previous accomplishments.

    In any event, well done by those two. Thanks for keeping us informed on the world down there Kraig.

  6. As always, it's my pleasure Alan. I can only hope to cover the Poles half as well as you do Everest and the Himalaya. 🙂

  7. What an amazing feat. I thought it had been done previously also but indeed the crossings were assisted.

    The good thing is that there's still a FULL continent traverse to be achieved (unsupp and unassisted). Let me explain my point of view. If you check the route Cecilie and Ryan took, well they pass via the South pole. This location is rather "close" to both ice shelfs they started from and thus to the sea. If you look at the route and imagine it splits the continent (imagine a pie having the shape of the continent and cut it along the route) then you notice there's a 20% on one side and a vast area covering 80% of the rest of the continent on the other side of the route.
    Now what if the SP was located on the shore or even in the ocean (like the magnetic SP)? How would their route be, how would you define a crossing of the continent ?
    My opinion is that a FULL continent crossing should pass through the SP of inaccessibility (SPI), or furthest/most challenging point to reach. In this way, wherever you start or finish (ideally following a straight line as starting and coming back to the same place is a Return trip) passing via this SPI would qualify for a FULL continent crossing. And this could be done assisted or not, unsupported or not, which leaves new polar history chapters to be written ! And the adventure can continue for a decade or more until it has been done !

    My conclusion:
    A massive congrats to Cecilie and Ryan, very happy that there feat was not really announced as such at the start, they kept if low profile and focussed on the SP and then having enough suppplies made the attempt and succeeded.
    Also I like the feat being done by an international team and by a man and a woman! The adventure year starts very well with good news like this !
    And the good thing, there are still new routes and challenges to be done as FIRSTS in Antartica!

  8. Supported, unsupported…it's a shame that we sometimes get distracted by others who seek to determine what constitutes a 'first'. We could argue that the use of GPS instead of a sextant is using external assitance; and in the end most polar expeditions can find a 'first' tag to add to their claims.

    Having skied 2,500 km into the South Pole and back (I think Ex Web tagged me as a 'partial' because I didn't start from their determined start point) I know that this has been an incredible achievement.

    So wether this was a sort of first, a partial first, or a new first it was a jolly cracking effort!!!!

  9. Agreed on all points Sean. Thanks for your thoughts and insights. Great effort by Ryan and Cecilie. I appreciate and love their sense of adventure and exploration.

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