Dr Gareth Andrews and Dr Richard Stephenson reached the Geographic South Pole at 6.30pm on the 18th January 2023 proud to have completed the 1404** kilometer expedition from the true coast of the Antarctic Continent (PECS* Terminology).
Dr Andrews and Dr Stephenson were attempting to complete the longest unsupported ski crossing of Antarctica. Their intended route would take them from the true coast of Berkner Island on the shores of the Weddell Sea to the base of the Reedy Glacier on the Ross Ice Shelf, a distance of 2023 kilometers.
Dr Andrews and Dr Stephenson had a total of 73 days in which to complete their intended 2023km expedition. This was the maximum amount of time that the Antarctic expedition season would allow them before they had to leave Antarctica.
Weather delays from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier, Antarctica meant that the team could not start their intended expedition until 7 days later than planned. This left only 66 days to complete the 2023 kilometer expedition, which would have required an average daily distance of 30.65 kilometers.
To complete such an audacious challenge weather and snow conditions would have to be very favourable for the duration of the expedition. This did not eventuate and it has been an extremely challenging Antarctic season for all expeditions on the continent.
The team started the expedition on the 14th November with 165kg sleds each on the very edge of the true coast Antarctic continent, amongst the Emperor Penguins and Icebergs of the Weddell Sea. Excellent progress was made across Berkner Island and the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf before 200 kilometers of soft powder snow through the Pensacola Mountains and more than 380 kilometers of solid, unbroken sastrugi (S84040 to S880) significantly slowed the team’s progress.
8 days from the South Pole Dr Andrews and Dr Stephenson made the difficult decision to end the expedition at the South Pole. It became clear that the Antarctic summer expedition season would prove too short the team to complete the crossing attempt ending at the base of the Reedy Glacier on the Ross Ice Shelf.
Dr Andrews and Dr Stephenson reached the Geographic South Pole at 6.30pm on the 18th January extremely proud to complete the 1404 kilometer expedition from the North coast of Berkner Island to the Geographic South Pole.
Expedition achievements –
- 1404km Full Unsupported Ski Expedition (PECS* Classification), North Coast of Berkner Island to the Geographic South Pole
- No rest days, no late starts, no early finishes
- 66 days of Climate and Meteorological data collected
- As Ambassadors for Scouts Australia the Andrews-Stephenson Antarctica 2023 expedition was followed by and involved over 60,000 Scouts from Australia, New Zealand and World Scouting.
Important Dates –
- Arrival Union Glacier, Antarctica: 12th November, 2022
- Expedition Start: 14th November, 2022
- Expedition End and Arrival Geographic South Pole: 18th January, 2023
- Departure South Pole: 19th January, 2023
- Departure Union Glacier, Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile: 20th January, 2023
Expedition Stats –
- Duration: 66 days
- Distance: 1404km
- Starting sled weight: 165kg per person
- Calories eaten per person per day: 6800kcal
- Weight loss: Gareth: 7.5kg, Rich: 9kg
- Frostbite: None
- Broken spoons: 1
* PECS: Polar Expedition Classification System https://pec-s.com/
** Note on distances: Our total final expedition distance was 1404km. It is worth noting that this is slightly longer than the 1353km recorded on the tracking map embedded in our website. The tracking map is based on tracking waypoints automatically uploaded from a Garmin 66i inReach device every 2 hours assuming a straight line is followed between each point. This therefore represents a relatively low resolution picture of our movements. We also used Suunto 9 Peak Pro GPS-enabled smart watches to continuously track a much higher resolution picture of our exact movements taking into account weaving in and out of sastrugi fields etc. so this therefore provides the final more accurate expedition distance of 1404km.