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Many climbers and mountaineers dream of summitting unclimbed peaks. Making 8 first ascents might seem like an unattainable feat, but for Polar explorer Phil Wickens this was accomplished on just one expedition!

A skier on a mountain on the Antarctic Peninsula

Photocredit: Phil Wickens

In January 2012 Phil led a small team of mountaineers and skiers to climb 13 peaks located in the Antarctic Peninsula. Travelling between islands by yacht, the summits were achieved in multi-day and single day tours. Rising straight out of the sea, the mountains range from 500 – 2600 m in height and are heavily glaciated, even during the Antarctic summer. Due to uncertainty over the thickness and conditions of the sea ice, choosing which mountains to summit in advance is not always possible. This adds an extra dimension to the adventure which must include contingency plans in case thick sea ice makes sailing in some places impossible.

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Continuing our series of interviews with polar explorers and adventurers, such as Dixie Dansercoer and Mikael Strandberg, we have recently had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Foot, arguably the most self-demanding man to reach the South Pole on foot.

Polar adventurer Chris Foot sitting on his sled

Solo, unassisted and unsupported, Chris Foot had to carry and drag everything he needed for the entire expedition.

During the 2010 / 2011 summer season in Antarctica, polar explorer Chris Foot made an attempt to become the first person to travel solo, unsupported and unassisted to travel from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back.

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Not many of us can say that we have been to either the Arctic or the Antarctic, but for Dixie Dansercoer the sub-zero climates of the poles are a passion. Dixie Dansercoer is the ultimate polar explorer and extreme sport expeditionist, he makes regular polar trips and has crossed both polar regions on foot.

Born in 1962 in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, Dixie has spent most of his life travelling the world, taking on many challenges across a wide range of outdoor activities. From mountaineering to mountain biking, from running to powerkite-skiing and from sailing to wind- and kitesurfing, Dixie will use any method to explore the extremes of our planet. A list of Dixie’s adventures and achievements is shown at the bottom of this post.

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Expedition Reaches the Pole!

On the 27th of December 2008 Adam Wilton and Gavin Booth reached the South Pole. Their unsupported, unassisted expedition from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole took 45 days 13 hours and 30 minutes.

It is only just starting to sink in that we are actually here and we are over the moon. On reaching the South Pole we believe that we have become only the 12th/13th Britons in history ever to make it to the South Pole from the edge of Antarctica unsupported (no resupply) and unassisted (man-hauling only). Since the start of our planning, it has been a five year journey to get here and we look forward to reflecting on what we have done.

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Onto the Antarctic Plateau

On 11/11/08 Adam Wilton and Gavin Booth set off on an expedition to the South Pole. Adam and Gavin are well past 88 degrees now. Man hauling their sleds for a staggering 10.5 hours per day they are becoming tired and hungry. They are losing weight and feeling the cold.

We are now properly on the plateaux though, so flatter terrain. Both glad to tick off another day.

Their height on the plateau is about 2700 meters, 1000 meters of which they climbed in the past week. Fortunately there is only another 135 meters left for them to climb to the South Pole.

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South Pole Expedition Pushes Past 86.5 Degrees

On Friday 12th November, Adam Wilton and Gavin Booth passed the 86.5 degree line on their way to the South Pole. Adam and Gavin have been walking across the Antarctic for nearly five weeks now. They estimate that they will reach the South Pole on New Year’s Day.

With the snow softer and sastrugi less extreme, they have been able to ski instead of walk. This has meant using different muscles and has given a much needed rest to the muscles that are used for walking. They are pulling all of their expedition gear, including their tent and their food, on sleds without any help from dogs or snow-mobiles.

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Half Way to the South Pole

On 11/11/08 Adam Wilton and Gavin Booth set off on an expedition to the South Pole. They have now reached the half way point, the 85 degree line.

The sun has been out and the wind is not strong, but the ambient temperature is still a bone chilling minus 19 degrees Celsius.

Adam and Gavin have no supply lines. They have with them everything that they need to survive the expedition, which they intend to complete on New Year’s Day 2009, when they arrive at the South Pole. Previously the Sastrugi were making the going hard. Now the snow has become soft skiing is impossible, so Adam and Gavin are walking, pulling their sleds behind them.

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Campaign to Save Robert Falcon Scott’s Hut

On 11/11/08 Adam Wilton and Gavin Booth set off on an expedition to the South Pole. By the wonders of modern technology they are sending back progress reports which can be accessed via their website.

So far they have nearly covered a third of the total distance. Having started at 80 degrees they are now past the 83 degree line. The going is tough with poor visibility. Some days there is not a lot to see, just white in every direction! The sun has been shining on occasion and their spirits are high. To ensure adequate calorific intake they are eating 65 grams of butter with every meal. Yummy!

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Two-Man Expedition to Geographic South Pole

Earlier this month Adam Wilton and Gavin Booth set off on a two man expedition to the geographic South Pole. Their journey started about a week ago at Hercules Inlet and will cover a distance of 1,130 km. They will climb almost 3,000 m on their expedition and will be heading into winds of up to 55 knots. With no support or re-supply they will each be pulling sleds of 120 kg with all their expedition equipment. Average Antarctic temperatures will be from – 25 °C to -40 °C.

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The Story of the Race to the South Pole

This video was created by Broken Pixel, an animator / editor / painter / designer. It depicts the heroic story of Robert Falcon Scott‘s ill fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole.

Terra Nova Video

The song Terra Nova was performed by the band iLiKETRAiNS and reached UK chart position 132 in May 2006. iLiKETRAiNS are a post-rock band from Leeds, England. Their songs are composed of expansive orchestral and guitar-based sounds. They are signed to Beggars Banquet Records.

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