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Ramón Larramendi, team leader of the Spanish Trans-Antarctic expedition, reached the South Pole of Inaccessibility as measured by data from the British Antarctic Survey. (click to enlarge).
The three-man team has covered 800 km in 30 days using their kite-sled during their Eastern Antarctic crossing. All images sent live over Contact 3.0 courtesy of the team/Tierras Polares (click to enlarge).

Spaniards reach South Pole of Inaccessibility - but where is Lenin?

Posted: Dec 12, 2005 05:25 pm EST
(ThePoles.com) The Spanish Trans-Antarctic expedition reached the South Pole of Inaccesibility yesterday, at 7:57 am, UTM time. According to the Scott Polar Research Institute this is the point furthest from navigable sea, rather than the 'theoretical' edge of the continent. We havent found any remains of previous expeditions, reported team leader Ramón Larramendi in a voice dispatch through Contact 3.0.

Listen to Voice dispatch from South Pole of inaccessibility

This is the first time this point has been reached without mechanical means of transportation, and without air-drops. Actually we wonder if this point has ever been reached, by any means. It probably hasn't.

Where is Lenin?

The guys have good reason to wonder if mechanical expeditions ever got to their South Pole of Inaccessibility. The point was previously reached in 1957 by a Soviet Antarctic Expedition. "Today a building still remains at this site, marked by a statue of Vladimir Lenin, and is protected as a historical site, states Wikipedia.

But then, where is Lenin? The team has properly calculated the location using a GPS device, but has found no trace of the statue. Obviously, comrade Lenin might be well buried under meters of ice and snow. There is another explanation though:

With or without Ice-shelves that is the question

The Spaniards are using another measure, provided prior to departure by the British Antarctic Survey. According to the British, the real South Pole of Inaccessibility is 82º 53 14S, 55º 4, 30 E precisely the place Ramón Larramendi, Ignacio Oficialdegui and Juanma Viu reached yesterday.

The Russians stated the South Pole of Inaccessibility was located at (85°50S 65°47E). The Scott Polar Research Institute agrees. Last month, they confirmed to ExWeb their definition of the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility:

"The position of the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility (85 deg 50 min S 65 deg 47 min E) is based on a calculations from the edges of the ice-shelves or a rocky coast. These are positions which may be reached by an icebreaker or similar vessel. It is thus reasonably constant and does not take account of seasonally variable pack ice (which is essentially a feature of the ocean rather than derived from the continental land mass)."

One pole for every one!

Aussie polar trekker Eric Philips complicates the matter even more:

"Incredible feat by Ramon and his team. Informing you that there is much disparity in the scientific community over the actual position of this Pole...here are some of the Poles of Inaccessibility:

83.50'S, 65°47'E including continent and ice shelves (www.scar.org/information/statistics/)
77.15'S, 104°39'E excluding ice shelves (www.scar.org/information/statistics/)
83.06'S, 54°58'E (www.mcyt.es/cpe/pdfs/sitioshistoricos.pdf)
85.50'S, 65°47'E (www.spri.cam.ac.uk/resources/infosheets/23.html)
84S, 65°E (www.antdiv.gov.au/default.asp?casid=1843)

Lenin is elsewhere

The Pole of Inaccessibility that the Spaniards have reached only takes into account the Continental surface of Antarctica. In other words, there is actually at least a second South Pole of Inaccessibility, about 100km away and is, in fact, the location accepted by The Scott Polar Research Institute.

Which makes both the Russians and the Spaniards into winners: The Russians reached the "Scott Institute" South Pole of Inaccessibility, whilst the Spaniards are the first to reach the "British Antarctic Survey" South Pole of Inaccessibility - and they did it only by wind power. It also explains why Lenin wasn't there to greet them.

The Spanish Trans-Antarctic expedition originally planned to cross both Poles; let's see how that pans out - the team's next stop is Vostok.

Flying high

The team is currently 3640m above sea level, where progress has been easier and faster given the smooth terrain. This has been a huge relief for the Spaniards given the extensive damage their kite sled sustained from the lower altitude sastrugi-filled terrain. The guys will attempt to maintain altitude and enjoy the smooth ride:

In our Antarctica crossing, weve covered 1800 km in 30 days. Our next stage is Vostok base, Ramón said.

According to Wikipedia, the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility (85°50S 65°47E) is the point on Antarctica furthest from the surrounding ocean. It is located 463 km (288 statute miles) from the South Pole. The surface elevation is 3718 m (12,198 ft). It was reached in 1957 by a Soviet Antarctic Expedition for International Geophysical Year research work. The station was named Sovetskaya. Today a building still remains at this site, marked by a statue of Vladimir Lenin, and is protected as a historical site.

Recently the Scott Polar Research Institute confirmed this more 'true' location and definition of the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility in a mail to ExWeb:

"The position of the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility (85 deg 50 min S 65 deg 47 min E) is based on a calculations from the edges of the ice-shelves or a rocky coast," they reported. "These are positions which may be reached by an icebreaker or similar vessel. It is thus reasonably constant and does not take account of seasonally variable pack ice (which is essentially a feature of the ocean rather than derived from the continental land mass)."

I.E. As suggested by 'inaccessibility', this is the point furthest from navigable sea, rather than the 'theoretical' edge of the continent.

Ramón Larramendi is leading a three-man team on a 4500km traverse across Eastern Antarctica, riding a large kite-powered sled. After years of testing and improving the sled, Ramon is ready and convinced, It is fast, endurable, powerful, maneuverable, and clean, he told Explorersweb.

Tested in four Greenland traverses, the sled's - and Ramon's - ultimate goal is to complete the longest Antarctic un-motorized traverse ever, without re-supplies. The other team members are Ignacio Oficialdegui and Juanma Viu.


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