The 2019 Antarctic expedition season is officially underway. While the team at Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) have yet to deliver the first round of South Pole skiers to the ice, Australian Geoff Wilson flew from Cape Town, South Africa to the Russian Novolarevskaya Station earlier today. He’s now posted to launch this epic journey tomorrow in what promise to be a standout adventure in a very busy season at the bottom of the world.
As noted last week, Wilson plans to kite and ski more than 5800 km (3603 miles) in what could end up being the longest solo journey across Antarctic ever. He’ll catch a ride out to his starting point at a mountain called Thor’s Hammer tomorrow and from there he’ll set off across Queen Maud Land first for the Pole of Inaccessibility, before proceeding on to the geographic South Pole, and a place called Dome Angus, which is believed to be amongst the coldest locations on the planet.
In his first dispatch, Wilson says that the enormity of what he intends to do is only now just starting to set in. He also indicates that high winds could make the start of his journey a cold and challenging one, but since he’s kiting eventually those winds will be a valuable asset. He’s given himself essentially three months to complete the expedition, which is why he is starting as early in the season as possible. Today, he’ll rest and prepare at the Novo Station, tomorrow the true challenge begins.
For now, Wilson is the only person out on the ice and starting his journey across the frozen continent. That isn’t likely to be the case for too long however, as ALE now has its next flight out to the Antarctic scheduled for Sunday, November 10. According to the flight list, there are still some open slots on that aircraft, which will take the first group of skiers dedicated to skiing to the South Pole to the Union Glacier camp. Depending on the weather and their preparedness, those skiers will then fly to the traditional starting point for such an expedition at a place called Hercules Inlet along the coast. From there, it’s a roughly 700 miles (1126 km) of traveling on skis to reach 90ºS.
Who exactly will be on that first flight come Sunday remains to be seen. Likely candidates include British endurance athlete Jenny Davis, who is looking to set a speed record to the Pole after coming up short last year due to illness, and Wendy Searle who is looking to do the same. German adventurer Anja Blacha is also close to leaving for her 1400 km (870 mile) South Pole journey as well. Surely there will be others whose progress we’ll be following as the season progresses as well.
I’ll keep a close eye on things at they develop in Antarctica. It won’t be too long now before things really ramp up.
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