Antarctica 2011: Johan Ernst Nilson Reaches Second Pole


One of the bigger adventures of the past year came to an end last week when Swedish adventurer Johan Ernst Nilson reached the South Pole. That point marked the final destination of his Pole2Pole expedition, which began last spring when he set out from the North Pole and began traveling south.

The initial plan was for Nilson to make the journey completely without the use of motorized vehicles, going on skis from the North Pole to Greenland for instance, then employing dogsleds to reach the coast and sailing the northern Atlantic to Canada. He ended up skiing directly to Canada instead, and once there, he began riding his bike towards South America, where he had hoped to arriving in Punta Arenas in time for the Antarctic season. With the cycling leg behind him, he would then sail across the Southern Ocean, to Antarctica, and kite-ski to the Pole.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to travel as fast as he would like and that plan didn’t come together completely. The bike ride took longer than Nilson expected, and as a result, he had to abandon his two-wheeled transportation and fly to the Antarctic in order to take advantage of the weather window that comes with the austral summer. Once on the ice, he did kite to the Pole, but it was a tough go that left him injured with a couple of broken ribs that must have been incredibly painful

Now, Nilson will return to South America and after a brief rest, get back on his bike and continue his ride to Punta Arenas. Once there, he still intends to sail to Antarctica, which would allow him to finish the expedition in the manner that he had started, just with a slight detour along the way. He hopes to accomplish this goal by early April, which would mean that he truly has gone from Pole2Pole in a single year.

Kraig Becker