Three Britons are celebrating reaching one of the remotest places on Earth – and finding a Russian revolutionary leader.
Henry Cookson, Rupert Longsdon and Rory Sweet battled against bone-chilling sub-zero temperatures and high winds to reach the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, the furthest point from any ocean, in Antarctica.
Above: Lenin watches over the team at the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility
The Canadian-British N2i expedition, led by Paul Landry, trekked more than 1,700km and discovered a bust of Soviet hero Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov – better known as Lenin. The statue was placed there by a USSR expedition which set up a base there in 1958 after they used snow vehicles to reach the point, 3,718m above sea level.
The point is 878km north-east of the geographic South Pole. For those grough readers with a Sat Nav or an Etrex who’d like to follow in the frozen sastrugi of the intrepid team, it can be found at 82 degrees 58 minutes S 53 degrees 40 minutes E.
The team took seven weeks to get to the pole from the scientific base at Novolazaresvskaya, on the coast of the continent. They are the first to get to the remote point by foot, and have used skis and kite ski to complete the journey, dragging 120kg sleds. The final push meant a non-stop 25-hour skiing leg.
On the day of the men’s arrival at the old Russian base, the temperature was -34 degrees Celsius, or -58 including wind chill.
The account on the expedition website recounts the approach to their goal: “With 20k to go our pains seemed to vanish. All that remained was the biting cold and an hour’s kiting.
“At 6k a dot on the horizon. Were our eyes deceiving us through a combination of exhaustion and so wanting something to be there? As we edged closer to the 'dot', it began to form into a noticeable pillar, an outline…..a bust!
“With the realisation that against all the odds Lenin was in fact still around to greet us we all burst into uncontrollable shouts and laughter.
“Shedding our skis we walked the remaining 100m. There he was, still perched on the chimney of original hut left there by the Soviets, his frosty gaze staring towards Moscow, exactly as he would have done in those days of the Cold War 48 years ago when he was first brought to this remotest of spots – sitting on top of not only his hut, but ice over two miles deep!”
The three Brits won the 2005 Scott Dunn Polar Challenge race to the North Pole and decided to hire Paul Landry to guide them to their objective. The expedition is also raising cash for the Calvert Trust in Exmoor, which helps people with disabilities take part in adventurous activities.
Having completed their mission, the four-man team was flown out by Russian DC3 plane to the base at Progress, on the edge of the continent.
For a full account, including details of the Great Antarctic Pube Derby and some great pics from the expedition, check out the team’s website.