Antarctica 2016: The New Season Begins Today!

1280px Adelie Penguins on iceberg

November is here and that can only mean one thing in the world of exploration and adventure. A new Antarctic season is about to get underway at the bottom of the world, and as I write this the first South Pole skiers are preparing to head out to the frozen continent. The now face weeks alone out on the ice, traveling through one of the most remote and pristine wildernesses our planet has to offer. Of course, we’ll be following along as they make their way across the Antarctic all the way to 90ºS.

The first ALE flight is schedule to depart Punta Arenas, Chile today and fly to Union Glacier. That aircraft will deliver several South Pole skiers, as well as a staff and supplies to the permanent camp at the blue-ice airfield on the Antarctic continent. Those who are on the flight today will likely spend a day or two at Union Glacier collecting their gear and finishing last minute prep. They’l then take a smaller plane on a short flight over to Hercules Inlet, the traditional starting point for an expedition across the ice.

Among those who are expected to be on this first flight are Johanna Davidsson, who hopes to ski solo to the Pole and then kite back to her starting position. Johanna posted on her website that she is packed and ready to go, with her sled weighing in at 110kg (242 pounds). On it she has everything she needs to survive for the next two months out on the ice, where she hopes to follow in the footsteps of other famous Scandinavian explorers who have gone before her.

Also scheduled to be on the first flight to Union Glacier is a team of six British skiers who will be making the trek to the South Pole to raise funds to help former soldiers in their time of need. They are  contributing everything that is donated to the cause to the Soldier’s Charity. Much like Johanna, the team is packed and ready to go, and just waiting on word of when the flight will take off.

Unfortunately, one skier won’t be joining on them as scheduled. Emma Kelty reports that she was expected to be on the flight out of Punta Arenas today, but her bags and gear did not arrive there from Santiago as expected. Apparently there is an ongoing strike in Chile’s capital, and as a result her bags are stuck in customs. She intends to fly to the city today, collect her things, and then drive back to Punta Arenas with everything in tow. Hopefully she’ll be able to accomplish that and still have time for her expedition. She hopes to make the round trip ski journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole too. Something that will take a considerable amount of time and effort.

Meanwhile, Mike Horn has made his way to Cape Town, where he is planning on sailing his ship, Pangea, to Antarctica where he’ll embark on his long-planned Pole2Pole expedition. He hopes to ski across the Antarctic, traversing the entire continent via the South Pole, as he attempts to become the first person to circumnavigate the planet via both Poles. A major undertaking to say the least. I would expect he’ll set sail once weather permits too.

Finally, Italian kite-skier Michele Pontrandolfo is already on the Antarctic continent having flown to Novo Base last week. He reports that he has been out on the ice for three days, but poor weather has prevented him from updating his position thus far. He plans to make a travers of the Antarctic using a kite, traveling east to west as he goes, with a stop at the South Pole along the way. He attempted the same crossing last year, but struggled to find proper winds. Hopefully this year he’ll be more successful.

That’s all for now. More news at we learn about it.

Kraig Becker