Rune's Grand Slam: Last man leaving Antarctica turns off the light!

Posted: Feb 03, 2006 04:19 pm EST

( Rune is not a man of big words, the reason perhaps why this Norwegian has been such a dark horse in the Polar hall of fame. At ExplorersWeb however, facts matter more than fancy press releases and spectacular claims. And when it comes to Rune - the stats speak for themselves.

The distance from Los Angeles to New York is 2,800 miles. Today, Rune ended his 2988 miles (4804 km) solo kite ride across Antarctica. Rune did it in 90 days and without resupplies. All his gear arrived intact, including Rune. That's pure excellence.

Rune beat the previous record of the longest Antarctic trek without resupplies by more than 600 miles (1000 km) - the distance between Detroit and New York. And he also beat his own schedule, completing the crossing 20 days sooner than he expected. With today's victory, Rune Gjeldnes is the only person to have traversed both polar ice caps without resupplies.

No surprise

To those who are familiar with this explorer, the outcome is no surprise.

In 1996, Gjeldnes kited across Greenland, the longest way: 1800 miles (2895 km South to North). And in 2000, he crossed the entire Arctic entirely unsupported - a feat without precedents in polar history.

This time around, Rune set off from northern Antarctica (Novolazarevskaya base, Queen Mauds Land) on November 5, 2005. He reached the South Pole December 20 and finished his quest today, February 3, 2006 at the southern Antarctic coast (Terra Nova base, Victoria Land).

No luxuries

Kites count as support as they afford much faster skiing times. Some days, Rune covered daily distances well over 100km - a distance impossible to ski in one day without wind support. But the drawback of kiting is that the skier is very exposed to cold, and Rune reported frostbite to his feet already weeks ago.

Going without resupplies simply means that if anything goes wrong or breaks, the game is over. There are no luxuries - weight is slimmed down to the very last excessive ounce. Such an expedition is a tremendous challenge in terms of planning, skill and self sufficiency. You'll have to use your head, not just your legs. Preparation and skill is what determines the outcome of self-sufficient expeditions - today just as in the old days.

Though he rarely complained, Rune's struggle was a hard one to the very last day. He only made it look easy: Through it all, he kept thinking positive, sending punctual, daily reports and stunning live images over Contact 3.0 - and sketching on his future farm.

About one record per week

During the trip, Rune broke many other records, most of them held by fellow Norwegians:

Last month, January 3, Rune broke Børge Ousland's distance record for solo unsupplied polar trips. Ousland (currently skiing to the North Pole in winter) covered 2845 km in 1996-97.

Six days later, Rune took the world record for the longest unsupported Antarctic ski-trek in history, previously held by Sønneland and Bae (3800km).

There were also daily distance records. Rune will tell it all once he returns home - and by the way, he is also the last Antarctic explorer to leave the continent this season.

Hats off. Nuff' said.

Check all previous Antarctic traverse's here

In 2000 Rune and Torry Larsen set out from Severnaya Zemlya in Russia, in full Arctic winter night, to cross the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole. When they finally reached Cape Discovery in Canada, the guys had lost their sleds, gear and everything else really, and were finally picked up wearing only a backpack. The doctor's of a small research station that examined them on arrival said that Rune and Torry were only 48 hours from death. They had been out for 109 days, covering 2100km.

Rune kited across Greenland lengthways from Cap Farewell to Cap Morris Jessup in 1996.

In 2005/2006, Rune Gjeldnes has crossed the Antarctic continent from Queen Mauds Land via the South Pole to Victoria Land. Hes gone kite-assisted, solo and without resupplies. He has covered 4808km in 90 days. Rune arrived at Terra Nova base at 02.00 CET, on Februar 3rd, 2006. He has thus become the first person to traverse both polar ice caps without resupplies.

#Mountaineering #Polar

Rune reached Terra Nova base today at 2:00 am CET, after 90 days on the ice and 4808km covered (click to enlarge).
"I have a dream" During the solo trip Rune didn't dream of fame and glory, but a farm he wants to build in Norway. (click to enlarge).
Rune completed the trip with kites but without resupplies (click to enlarge).
Kiting had a drawback for Rune though: Forced to remain stiff for hours, his feet suffered from the cold. Weeks ago he reported on having frostbitten toes (click to enlarge).
Rune celebrated Christmas decorating his tent, lighting a lone cigar and listening to the only song he had brought along - 'White Christmas' (click to enlarge).
Rune struggled to the very end, here stuck in another whiteout (click to enlarge).
He made it look easy - but when Rune finished his long march - a 4804 km (2988 miles) solo kite ride across Antarctica, he beat the previous record of the longest Antarctic trek without resupplies by more than 1000 km (600 miles) - or the distance between Detroit and New York. With his victory, Rune Gjeldnes became the only person to have traversed both polar ice caps without resupplies (click to enlarge).

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