Starting Date: Nov 22, 2011
On the 22nd of November 2011, two AT44's and two AT44 6×6's set off from the ice self below Novo airbase. There were several objectives and goals for the expedition. The first was as a luxury ski support, skiing from 88 degrees to the South Pole. The team consisted of two AT Drivers/Mechanics/Paramedics, the EWR organizer and one more driver/support person. The first task was to drive the 2100 km to the starting point, but this was the “maiden voyage” for the newly developed Arctic Trucks 6×6 vehicles.
Arriving at 88 degrees, the team set up a luxury camp and prepared a runway for Basler bringing in the clients. After 2-3 days of acclimation the clients started their skiing towards South Pole. Some preferred the comfort of the vehicles while others skied various parts of the daily distance, arriving at camps with tents and beds setup, the chef having already prepared dinner.
After arriving and celebrating at the South Pole, the group headed back to a camp 20km away and waited for the TAC pickup. The runway there was covered with very soft snow, denying the airplane enough speed to get airborne in the thin air. After the trucks compressed a 4 km long runway, driving back and forth, the airplane managed to take off and with a stopover at FD83 fuel depot for refueling, the client returned to Novo airbase about 9 hours later.
ROSS SHELF – FINISH OF FIRST CROSSING
Once the VIP clients were picked up at South Pole the expedition team took off and drove to Ross Ice shelf, down the Leverett glacier along the route the NSF has established for bringing fuel to the South Pole station. The drive down to Ross was fairly fast and easy, when the team arrived there they had formally made a full Antarctica crossing from the ice shelf next to Novo airbase to the Ross Ice shelf with a stop at the South Pole.
After a short stop at the Ross Ice shelf, the team returned to the South Pole to celebrate Christmas and prepare for the upcoming projects.
POLE OF INACCESSIBILITY
After the VIP support, Ross Ice Shelf and Christmas at the South Pole the team drove the 800km back to the fuel depot (FD83) to prepare for the next project, supporting BBC Blue Peter program. But first the team made a successful drive to the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI). POI is defined as the hardest place to reach in Antarctica, furthest away from the ocean. The drive was very tough on the team and the vehicles, most of the route they had to drive 90 degrees on big sastrugi fields and at an altitude of nearly 3800 meter the oxygen levels and temperature dropped even further. At POI the team took photos by the statue of Lenin, which a Russian expedition had placed there during the cold war.
The return journey from FD83 and back to FD83 was 1000 km and the team arrived back at FD83 January 1st, after a 4 day journey having to deal with some mechanical issues on one of the three vehicles.
BLUE PETER SUPPORT
Having now completed over 6100 km this team took on one more project, to support a BBC TV program called Blue Peter, with Helen Skelton and Niklas Norman, an additional 3400 km on the Antarctica plateau still to go.
Helen and Niklas had previously skied along the Shcherbakov Mountain range to acclimatize supported by other AT vehicles and crew. A TAC Basler flight took them from the top of the mountain range to FD83, the starting point for the plateau expedition, 800 km to South Pole. January 4th, Helen and Niklas started kiting, skiing and biking to the South Pole. It is a long and tough expedition, high altitude, extremely cold and definitely not bike friendly. Niklas, a highly experienced competition kiter, was very strong and Helen, who had very limited experienced dealing with these conditions, surprised most with extreme determination and strong performance.
After arriving for the 3rd time at the South Pole, the team waited for the BBC crew to be picked up by a TAC flight. Once everyone had left the expedition, the AT team started they last part of their journey, back to the Ice shelf below Novo airbase, nearly 2500 km away.
On the 6th February, the team arrived on the ice shelf below Novo airbase, finishing a double crossing of Antarctica and the longest expedition on the Antarctica Plateau ever, 9500km for each vehicle in total.
Combined total km drive 28.500km
Participants: Gísli Jónsson – driver and mechanic and Guðmundur Guðjónsson – driver, mechanic and paramedic, from Arctic Trucks.
Tony Martin, Steve and Jim from EWR.
Cars: Two Hilux AT44 and two AT44 6X6