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ANTARCTICA

AN ATTEMPT OF SOLO TRAVERSE OF THE ANTARCTICA -1450 KM

ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA
ANTARCTICA

AN ATTEMPT OF SOLO TRAVERSE OF THE ANTARCTICA -1450 KM



To walk the route from the Weddell Sea, through the South Pole, to the Ross Sea. Nobody has ever traversed this route solo and unassisted from outside.

The solo crossing Antarctica was the unfulfilled dream of Ernest Shackelton. The Irish explorer took up the challenge to go for, as he stated himself, ‘the last great quest on Earth’ in 1915, but his ship sank and he had to cancel the expedition just after it had started. He and his crew miraculously escaped death, abandoning the ship on a small lifeboat.

There were 2700 km ahead of me. I wanted to walk the distance in 100 days. According to the plan, I was to walk the route to the South Pole in 55 days, and the remaining part of the route, to the McMurdo bay, would take the next 45 days. My sled which was to provide me with everything I needed for such a long period of time weighed 200 kg.

I was supposed to be struggling with extremely low temperatures, gusty winds, ice drifts [1] and crevasses for over 3 months. I knew Antarctica very well - I knew it could be dangerous as hell but also astonishingly beautiful. I believed that I could do it.

Three other, independent expeditions took place during my expedition. Each of them had the same goal - to cross the Antarctica. The challenge of struggling with snow, cold, weather and themselves was taken up by my friend Børge Ousland from Norway, Ranulph Fiennes from England and a Korean group of six led by Heo Young Ho.

The traverse could be successful only during a short Antarctic summer. There is no chance to cross the Antarctica in winter. I needed to hurry up. I was supposed to get to Antarctica together with the other explorers on 25th October 1996. However, we couldn’t fly from Chile to the Patriot Hills camp because of terrible weather conditions. We waited 18 days for better weather! So we were already late at the start of the expeditions. But it was just the beginning of my problems. I set out for my solo trek on 15th November from the Berkner Island. On the third day of my walk, the kite pulling the sled fell over, I got tangled up with the lines and I fainted. The kite dragged my unconscious body for about two kilometres. I was heavily bruised and I thought my bones could be broken. The accident forced me to stop.

I took off for the second time on 20th November from 78o14’S. It was a tough journey. One of the hardest I have ever walked. The pain, lack of wind, adverse weather and powdery snow that slowed down the sled. Each day was a struggle to somehow walk further.

And, on 13th February when I finally reached the Pole on my last leg, Børge Ousland was already 25 days ahead of me and was almost finishing his expedition. Despite this, I wanted to continue my walk. I passed the Pole. But it was too late. Even if the weather got better, I could reach the Ross Sea not earlier than before the end of February or on the beginning of March. And, on the 20th February, the watch of the rescue plane finished as it was previously agreed. The Antarctic winter had started. I didn’t have enough time. After a long consideration, I decided to cancel my expedition and I got back to the camp on the Pole. Børge has made it. He was the first person to cross Antarctica alone and without any outside assistance.

[1] Ice drifts (zastrugi) - sharp irregular grooves or ridges formed on a snow surface by wind erosion, saltation of snow particles, and deposition, and found in polar and open sites such as frozen lakes in cold temperate regions