Antarctic wrap-up: The success of teamwork

Posted: Jan 15, 2009 02:00 pm EST

(The Poles.com) Richard Weber and Kevin Vallely reflected on how excellent teamwork contributed to their team's record-breaking speed from Hercules Inlet.

The Shackleton Centenary team said they aim to arrive at the South Pole on 17 January to commemorate Scotts arrival at the Pole 97 years ago.

Unsupported, unassisted

Richard Weber, Ray Zahab, Kevin Vallely (Canada)

The team is in Punta Arenas. Kevin explained why they, as a team, were so successful: Ray put together arguably the best team possible he could for this; with Richard being arguably the most experienced Polar trekker; all the kit to make this work out as best it could; we made navigational, route finding decisions together; and [we were] making all our critical decisions together.

Kevin felt his previous crevasse field and cold weather experience helped a lot, but nothing compares me to Richard; our team was really strong; we carried equal weight; Ray's nutritional guidance was essential [] we felt so good.

I think that there's no "I" in team, said Kevin, as Ray was known to say throughout the whole thing and I think that's the key to anything. Good teamwork, you can't work as an individual.

Richard said, I'd like to say that I'm very proud that our team made this trek with, in such good time. Before I was on, before coming on the expedition I'd known Ray for almost ten years, but I'd never met Kevin. But we got along really well, famously; I've never laughed so much in an expedition. So we made a great team on the ice.

Kevin sent the following data to ExplorersWeb:

Start co-ordinates at Hercules Inlet
79° 59.310S, 079° 25.930W
[79.9885S, 079.4322W]
Start time:
08:35 (Chile time) or 11:35 UTC
on 05 December, 2008

Finish: South Pole 90°S
Finish time: 08:30 (Chile time) or 11:30 UTC on 07 January, 2009
Journey time: 33 days 23 hours 55 minutes.

Shackleton Centenary Expedition (Henry Worsley, Will Gow and Henry Adams) Ross Island start

Will reflected on some high and lows during their expedition; visiting the Huts in the beginning and the send off by the people at McMurdo, the Ross Ice Shelf which had unexpected good packed snow and sunshine; walking parallel along the Trans-Antarctic Mountains; climbing Mount Hope and looking at the route to the South; crampons and crevasses on the Beardmore Glacier; Henry Adams seeing the mountain range named after his great-grandfather, the Adams Mountain Range; the storm on the Plateau; and meeting with 97-mile team.

The home team reported about the 97-mile team, Richard ("Ronnie") Gray reports on their daily routine. After getting up at 8am they set off at 10am, and travel for an hour with breaks of 15 minutes, during which they attempt to drink and eat, although he says that drinking is easier, and they have lost their appetite during the day, but make up for it once in their tents at night.

Distances: 14 nm, 13.9 nm, 12.6 nm
Position: 89° 23, 169° 54

Return supported and sail assisted

Mike Horn (South Africa)

Mike reported that Prince Albert and his team of 8 people joined him and Borge Ousland and the 2 young explorers. He said he and Borge left their equipment 118 km from the South Pole and all of them skied two days to reach the Pole; covering 12 km and 10 km respectively.

Mike, Borge and the two young men will go back to their equipment and continue to the Pole again.

ANI Hercules Inlet start Sarah McNair-Landry (leader), Thomas Davenport

Tom explained how they used 7 meter, 10 meter and 12 meter kites.

On 12 January he reported, So as of early this morning one third of the return journey is completed, in the five days (including one windless day) since we left the Pole. It is definitely a more pleasurable and efficient form of polar travel to man-hauling on skis, though at the end of the day there are a whole slew of new aches and pains to contend with (basically, I need to stop crashing).

I must confess, though, Tom said, I found the first two days of kiting very difficult, especially psychologically. With the emotional high of reaching the Pole, after 53 days of hauling, now behind us and with the rest of the team heading home, I found the thought of spending another few weeks re-tracing our steps, away from family, depressing. Credit to Sarah though who once again reminded me to focus on getting through one day at a time.

Tom described one of his falls, my pulk flipped on some sastrugi and came to a fast stop, while the kite had other ideas and I took flight for ten feet, before the harness on the pulk brought me down to earth.

ANI Messner start Norwegian leader and Jeremy Rogers

no new news

Partial routes

Ignacio Oficialdegui and Ramon Larramendi (guides), Jesús Noriega, Xavier Valbuena and Eric Villalón (South Pole without Limits, Spain)

The Spaniards are in the last degree.

Keith Heger (guide, USA) Peter Lemon (UK), Maud Oortwijn (Netherlands), Mike Strong (USA) and Andrzej Wojda (Poland); PolarExplorers last degree and Vinson

The team reported that they were one day away form the South Pole. Their latest dispatch said they increased their travel time to 1.5 hours between breaks and Two hours into the day the cloud coverage rolled in and visibility decreased to virtually nil.

Links to Antarctic 2008-09 expeditions

Unsupported, unassisted
Mark Langridge (UK, solo)
Todd Carmichael (USA, solo)
Chus Lago/ Caixanova Expedition (Spain, solo)
Gavin Booth and Adam Wilton/ British South Pole Expedition 2008 (UK)
Richard Weber, Ray Zahab, Kevin Vallely/ South Pole Quest Expedition (Canada)
Kari Poppis Suomela and Pasi Ikonen (Finland)
Henry Worsley, Will Gow and Henry Adams/ Shackleton Centenary Expedition (UK)
Christian Eide, Rune Midgaard, Mads Agrup and Morten Andvig/ Hvitserk Happy Feet (Norway) English dispatches
Christian Eide, Rune Midgaard, Mads Agrup and Morten Andvig/ Hvitserk Happy Feet (Norway) map site
Christian Eide, Rune Midgaard, Mads Agrup and Morten Andvig/ Hvitserk Happy Feet, Norwegian dispatches

Return journeys, kite assisted
Mike Horn (South Africa/Switzerland)
Jeremy Rogers (UK)
Thomas Davenport (USA)

Partial routes
Ignacio Oficialdegui and Ramon Larramendi (guides) and Jesús Noriega, Xavier Valbuena and Eric Villalón (Pol Sud Sense Límits, Spain)
Børge Ousland and team
Hannah McKeand and team
Keith Heger and PolarExplorers Last Degree and Vinson

Other Antarctic expeditions
ANSMET Meteorite Hunters
Duncan Chessell, Jamie McGuiness and teams 80 km Ellsworth Mountain traverse and Vinson climb
Cristian Donoso and teams Antarctic Peninsula Kayak Expedition
#Polar








We got several new speed records for the South Pole. Fastest time from the coast to the South Pole is currently 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes from Hercules Inlet (1130 km). Image live over Contact 4.0 courtesy of record holder Ray Zahab.

The Shackleton descendants, Henry Adams, Henry Worsely and Will Gow in Shackletons Hut before they started their expedition. Live image courtesy of shackletoncentenary.org (click to enlarge)
Thomas Davenport: It is definitely a more pleasurable and efficient form of polar travel to man-hauling on skis, though at the end of the day there are a whole slew of new aches and pains to contend with (basically, I need to stop crashing). Live image over Contact courtesy of FromEnd2End.net (click to enlarge)
I must confess, though, said Thomas, I found the first two days of kiting very difficult, especially psychologically. With the emotional high of reaching the Pole, after 53 days of hauling, now behind us and with the rest of the team heading home, I found the thought of spending another few weeks re-tracing our steps, away from family, depressing. Credit to Sarah though who once again reminded me to focus on getting through one day at a time. Live image over Contact courtesy of FromEnd2End.net..
Keith Heger's cooker. Live image courtesy of humanedgetech.com/expedition/nwpassage
Sundogs. They were all inspired and awe-struck, said Keith and his team. Live image courtesy of humanedgetech.com/expedition/nwpassage (click to enlarge)