Earlier in the week I wrote a blog post about the impending Antarctic expedition season, which should get underway next week, provided the weather cooperates. Today, ExWeb has revealed a comprehensive list of the expeditions that we’ll be following in the weeks ahead, and as usual there are a number of people skiing to the South Pole, although fewer than in recent years.
According to ExWeb there are no skiers making solo, unsupported expeditions to the Pole this year. Their entire list features people who will be making that journey, but will receive outside support of some kind. Going unsupported is obviously more challenging, and it seems that most of the adventurers heading to the Antarctic this season will be opting to have assistance in the form of supply drops along the way.
Amongst those making journeys in the Antarctic this year are Newell Hunter, a Brit who will travel from Hercules Inlet to the Pole along the Messner Route, and Faysal Hanneche, who will go solo from Novo Base to Hercules Inlet by kite-ski. Others include Paula Reid, who will be guided by Robert Smith, along the Messner Route as well, and the trio of Stéphanie & Jérémie Gicquel and Are Johansen, who will travel together along that same path. Canadian Ian Evans will be joined by Brits Andy Styles and Bradley Cross, for a similar expedition.
As usual, there will be a couple of unique expeditions in the Antarctic as well, including Manon Ossevoort (aka TractorGirl), who for some inexplicable reason wants to drive a tractor to the South Pole. She’ll get underway on November 21 if all of her plans come together properly.
Mike Horn is also headed to the Antarctic as part of his Pole2Pole 360º Expedition. That ambitious undertaking will see Horn traverse the globe via the North and South Pole, while also traveling by foot through Greenland. The journey is just getting underway, and the explorer should be on his way to the Antarctica now aboard his ship, the Pangaea.
The Outer Edge Polar Challenge will also embark in November, with a team attempting to set a new world record for the longest ice sailing expedition. They’ll go unsupported for more than 4500 km (2796 miles) in an attempted to raise funds to battle Leukemia.
You can check out the full list of Antarctic expeditions announced so far by clicking here. There are probably a few more that will be added over time, as more people make their intentions clear.
Finally, ExWeb is also reporting that China is building an airstrip in the Antarctic. The new facility will assist Chinese scientists doing research on the frozen continent, and help support the four bases that the country has there. It is expected to be built near the Zhongshan Research Station on the Antarctic coast, close to the Larsemann Hills, which are found south-west of Australia. Currently, China’s only access to Antarctica is via ship, and the airstrip will facilitate more efficient transportation to and from the region. Preliminary work on the new base will begin this year.
That’s all for now. I’m sure we’ll have more to report starting next week. The Antarctic season is about to get underway, and teams are already gathering in both Punta Arenas, Chile and Cape Town, South Africa, as they prepare to get things underway. If the weather holds, we should see the first explorers touch down on the continent sometime next week.