Now that November is officially here and the Antarctic expedition season is starting to ramp up, there are a number of explorers heading south looking for an adventure on the frozen continent. More than a few have their sights set on a ski journey to the South Pole, covering a distance sometimes in excess of 700 miles. Amongst them will be British adventurer Richard Parks, who is hoping to break the speed record to the Pole. A record that many believe is unbreakable.
Parks left London for Punta Arenas, Chile last week and is now there getting his gear sorted and the logistics for his solo, unsupported journey to the Pole sorted out. He’ll be there for another week or so before flying to Antarctica and his starting point at Hercules Inlet. From there, it is 715 miles to the South Pole, a distance that he hopes to cover in just 23 days.
The current record is held by Christian Eide, who traveled the same route in 2011 in just 24 days, 1 hour and 13 minutes. In setting that record, Eide averaged 29 miles per day and finished with a strong 56 miles on the final day. If Richard hopes to top that, he’ll need to average a whopping 31 miles per day just to have a chance.
Traveling more than 30 miles per day in the Antarctic will not be easy. Not only will he face endless miles of ice and snow that he’ll have to cross on skis, while pulling a heavy sled filled with all of his food, gear and other supplies, he’ll also have to battle high winds, dramatic changes in altitude, subzero temperatures, blizzards, whiteouts and other obstacles. There will be little room for error and no rest days along the way as the clock will be ticking the entire way.
This speed record attempt is just the beginning however. Richard has also announced that next year he will attempt to complete the longest solo and unassisted Antarctic expedition in history. While there are few details yet on exactly what that will entail. Parks promises that that expedition will provide a unique twist as well. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until next year to find out what exactly that twist is.
Richard should launch his expedition by mid-November at which time you’ll be able to follow his progress and cheer him on at his official website. It should be interesting to see how he fares.