Antarctic wrap-up: Shackleton descendants at the South Pole

Posted: Jan 20, 2009 04:00 am EST

(The The Brits Henry Worsely, Will Gow and Henry Adams, the Shackleton descendants, reached the Geographic South Pole on 18 January 2009 and with that completed unfinished family business.

Unsupported, unassisted

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

The aim of this expedition was to arrive at the point where Shackleton turned around, 88°23S, 163°E, a hundred years ago on 9 January and then to complete the rest of the route to the South Pole. On 9 January the descendants arrived at the turn around point, skied further and on 18 January, at 3.30 GMT, after travelling 66 days, the two Henrys and Will arrived at the South Pole. They said they were very proud to hold the original Shackleton compass, which they have carried with them, at the South Pole.

During the last few days they had good weather, though temperatures went below minus 30 Celsius. A BBC cameraman met up with the team to do some filming for a documentary.

Although the team met up with the 97-mile team and the cameraman, their home team reported to Explorersweb that care was taken to maintain their unsupported unassisted status.

This route from Ross Island is a longer distance than from Hercules Inlet or the Berkner Start. The teams last distances: 13.6, 13.1, 5.9 and 4.7 nautical miles.

The home team explained about the distances the last two days, The Team only travelled for a short time today, for two reasons. Firstly they have been doing some filming with the BBC cameraman, Sean Smith, for the BBC Timewatch documentary that is being made about the expedition, and will be shown in the spring. Secondly, I think they have held off from the Pole to allow the 97 Team to catch up, so that the Ice Team will not have to spend too long at the Pole before the others arrive.

The 97-mile team reported one bad weather day and said that they were glad they could experience such weather to get a feeling of what the other three men went through. According to the last report on 18 January, they were 19 nm from the Pole.

Return supported and sail assisted

Mike Horn (South Africa)

On 15 January Mike Horn and his team, Borge Ousland and ClĂŠmence and Nicolas, arrived back from the South Pole at the spot where they have left their equipment. They are now skiing the last degree to the Pole. On 18 January Mike reported that they were 50.6 km from the Pole Yesterday we covered 27kms and so if we do 25kms for the next two days we will arrive at the Pole on Monday evening."

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

No new news.

ANI Messner start Norwegian leader and Jeremy Rogers

No new news.

Partial routes

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

The team arrived at South Pole in 14 January. They spent two nights at the Pole and flew back to Patriot Hills. Their home team reported, After a five hour flight back to Patriot Hills, they finally arrived at 10 PM and were treated to a celebratory dinner prepared by the Patriot Hills staff. They really appreciated the wine, beer, cheese and crackers and camaraderie of their hosts.

After an hour of celebrating, guide Keith Heger and the three team members continuing on to Vinson (Peter, Maud and Andy) grabbed their already-prepared Vinson kits and boarded the Twin Otter again, this time for the short 45 minute flight to Vinson base camp.

Check out the teams website for South Pole photos.

Last degree: Alan Chambers (guide), Kevin Gaskell, Matt Gaskell, Pete Lowrie, Andrew May, Angelo Speranza, John Harrison

According to the Gaskells website the team started their last degree ski trip on 5 January and arrived at the South Pole on 14 January; covering the last 110 km or 60 nautical miles or 70 statute miles to the South Pole. Matt Gaskell was the youngest in the group at age 18 and his father Kevin (50) was also a group member.

In contrast with several claims by the father and son that are reported by several news sources, they were not the first father and son to have skied to the South Pole and Explorersweb is aware of younger than 18-year olds that have skied the last degree. Last degree groups are flown in from the ALE base camp, Patriot Hills, and dropped on the Antarctic Plateau at about 9000 ft to complete the last ten percent of the route that are done by the coastal start Hercules Inlet ski groups; therefore air supported.

In 1997-98 Icelandic Haraldur Örn Ólafson and his father Ólafur Örn Haraldson became the first father and son to ski to the South Pole. They skied with a friend 1084 km from Patriot Hills to the Pole.

In the 2004-05 season Sarah McNair-Landry, then age 18, skied 1130 km unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole with her mother, 20-year old brother and two friends. At the Pole they picked up their kites and kited back to Hercules Inlet. This season Sarah is leading a Hercules Inlet return journey at age 22.

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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 JesĂşs Noriega, Xavier Valbuena and Eric VillalĂłn (Pol Sud Sense LĂ­mits, Spain)
Børge Ousland and team
Hannah McKeand and team
Keith Heger and PolarExplorers/ Northwest Passage Last Degree and Vinson
Gaskell website

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

The Shackleton descendants with Shackletons compass at the Geographic South Pole.Live image courtesy of (click to enlarge)
90° South, the Geographic South Pole marker from the top. Live image over Contact 4 courtesy of (click to enlarge)
The last degree team of Northwest Passage with guide Keith Heger at the Geographic South Pole
Keith and teams campsite at the South Pole. Live image over Contact 4 courtesy of (click to enlarge)
The Shackleton Centenary Expeditions map, courtesy of (click to enlarge)