December was a wildly successful month of expedition in Antarctica. Records have fallen, firsts achieved, and members of our own Expedition Portal community have made successful bids on the shiny globe at the bottom of the planet.
The Expeditions 7 team has been on quite a roll, literally. Having crossed all of North America, the Road of Bones in Russia, the Canning Stock Route in Australia, and the Skeleton Coast of Africa, they can now add not just a successful bid on the South Pole to the list, but they crossed the entire Antarctic continent twice in doing so. Team members Scott Brady, Greg Miller, Gisli Karl Elisson, and Chris Collard made the drive in good time with no complications. One of the E7 Land Cruisers also made the trip to Antarctica adding continent number six to its list of achievements. One more to go! www.expeditions7.com
In what was the most unique expedition of the season, 35 year old Maria Leijerstam has become the first person to cycle to the South Pole from the edge of the continent. This is not the first bicycle to be included in a bid on the Pole, but the first unsupported expedition going the full distance by bicycle. Her specially built three wheeled recumbent fat bike was designed to provide the necessary float on the soft surface, but also to mitigate the high winds often the deal breaker for other bicycle attempts on the Pole. www.whiteicecycle.com
At just 19, Parker Liautaud has not just become the youngest person to ski to the South Pole, he now owns the speed record for that achievement. The Willis Resilience Expedition, comprised of Liautaud and his partner Doug Stoup, completed their 400 mile journey to the South Pole on Christmas Eve in just 18 days. The Willis Resilience Expedition also included a complex scientific component with a separate team doing studies of the ice to better understand climate change. On both counts the expedition has been a total success. Their website is a stunning journey on its own. www.willisresilience.com
While it’s still in progress, the Scott Expedition led by Ben Saunders is nearing day 70. Retracing the steps of Scott’s ill-fated expedition, Ben and his partner Tarka have reached the South Pole, and are now making the arduous 900 mile trek back to the coast. It has been an amazing journey to watch with daily updates and videos posted on the expedition’s website. We congratulate Ben and Tarka on achieving the Pole in good time, and wish them well on the leg of the journey that proved too much for Scott. www.scottexpedition.com