ExWeb interview with Mark Langridge: Solo to the South Pole and back without sail support

Posted: Oct 21, 2008 03:35 pm EDT

(ThePoles.com) Early November British soldier Mark Langridge will attempt to ski solo from Hercules Inlet to the Pole and return to the Inlet without a kite. He will be placing depots along the way, which he will mark with his GPS and bamboo sticks with black flags.

In just more than a week Mark flies off to Punta Arenas in Chile. ExWeb's Correne Coetzer caught up with him during his last days at home.

Mark explains on his website how he got hooked. When he was in primary school he was send out of class for some trivial matter. He sat down in a corridor wing that contained some books that were very old and due to be removed. Out of boredom he began to read the titles and saw an article about Scotts Last Expedition. He browsed through the many black and white photos and started reading. Within 15 minutes he was fascinated and that was when he decided he must go to the South Pole.

ExWeb: How long have you been planning this expedition?

Mark: Im planning this since Jan 06, but the concept was there since I was a child.

ExWeb: What are your previous expedition and cold weather experience?

Mark: No expeditions, but I took part in 3 x 6 week Norway exercises with the British Army, completed a Norwegian Allied Officers Course and operated in mountain/altitude work in Afghanistan. As a dress rehearsal I went to Hardangervidda in Norway this year.

ExWeb: Your sled's weight will be very heavy. Will you take any special luxuries?

Mark: 2 lbs of sweets and 1 lb tobacco, but no music/IPOD.

ExWeb: When you arrive at the South Pole are you planning to spend a short while there or are you going to turn around after you have taken your photos?

Mark: I am turning around once the photos are taken - no visit to the station to keep in with the Unsupported Criteria. (ed note: see Adventure Rules and Definitions)

ExWeb: When things get very tough, what will motivate you to keep going?

Mark: Fear of failure, endurance from previous testing circumstances, and endurance shown by sufferers of EB (one of my charity fundraisers).

ExWeb: At the moment, how do you feel about the challenge that lies ahead?

Mark: I can't wait to get going, though Im apprehensive about my kit en-route to Punta and delays!!

ExWeb: Are you flying in to Antarctica with the first ALE Twin Otter staff flight?

Mark: Yes, the first staff flight is scheduled for 2nd Nov. (ed note: weather permitting)

Mark told ExWeb that his sleds weight is now down to 330 lb (150 kg) instead of the previously planned 370 lb. He plans to reach the South Pole in 40 days and return in the same time. Mark also said that he got advice from Sjur Mørde to leave food depots every 5 days instead of every 10 days. He will have 5 days reserve food in his sled. After every depot his sled should be approximately 30 kg (14 kg) lighter. He plans to make his first depot after traveling approximately 87 statute miles (140 km, 75.6 nm).

British Mark Langridge will attempt to ski solo, unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back in 80 days, starting early November 2008. Mark will start off with a sled that weights 330 lb (150 kg) and will place depots along the way. He will not be using any kite support.

Mark is serving in the British Army, in a regiment that has been very helpful with his South Pole preparations, he says. He and his wife live in Surrey. On his return Mark says he will be looking forward to a few beers and a hot Curry!

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Marks home team reported that he reached the South Pole at 20h30 GMT on 29 December, after travelling 13 nm that day. They said, although Mark expresses a sadness at being unable to do the return journey, even Superman would struggle to do the return trip in 25 days. Image courtesy of Mark Langridge (click to enlarge)
When British soldier, Marks march gets too tough he will be motivated by Fear of failure, endurance from previous testing circumstances, and endurance shown by sufferers of EB (one of my charity fundraisers). Images courtesy of Mark Langridge (click to enlarge)

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