Thursday, 2 February 2012

Weber skis to the South Pole again

On Nov. 16, 2011, a team of five adventurers flew to Antarctica. The team was led by Richard Weber (left).

The unassuming 53 year old Canadian must now be the world' leading polar traveller having been on over 50 expeditions to the Arctic, 17 trips to the North Pole and has also skiied to the South Pole at least twice.

I have known Richard since 1985 when we did a 1500 miles ski trip in the Arctic, and again in 1986 we were members of an unsupported expedition to the North Pole (Canada) my good friend from trips in the Arctic in 1985 and to the North Pole in 1986,

On his latest expedition to the Antarctica,his team included Chris de Lapuente (Britain); Kathy Braegger and Ruth Storm (USA); and Michael Archer (New Zealand).

  The team started skiing from the Ronne Ice Shelf at a location called the “Messner Start,” 900 km from the South Pole. After Braegger and de Lapuente dropped out due to sickness and infection, after 38 days, Weber, Archer and Storm reached the Pole. Storm returned from the Pole by aircraft.

After a frustrating period waiting four days for wind, Weber and Archer started their kite-skiing journey 1130 km back to the edge of the continent. Both spent ten days kiting and another three days waiting for wind. Most kiting days they covered about one degree of latitude (110 km). Their best day was 240 km.

They reached Hercules Inlet on the 57th day, January 17, 2012.

Weber reports, “Traveling across Antarctica is in many ways boring - endless white, no wildlife, the Messner Route has almost no mountain scenery. Yet, Antarctica is so vast, huge, pristine (except for the U.S. base at the South Pole), and snow surfaces are always changing. From the start to the South Pole the climb is almost 10,000 feet but it is mind boggling to think that all that climbing is on top of ice.

Misha Malakhov (left) and Richard Weber (right) on the first unsupported expedition to reach the North Pole and return to land.

“The kite-skiing was often frustrating because of a lack of wind and the fact we did not have all the correct equipment. At the same time, when the wind was good, flying across the surface of Antarctica was an amazing, exhilarating experience. We are a couple of men aged 50 plus, with limited kite-skiing experience, yet we covered over 1130 km in ten days of kiting. This year other kiting expeditions completed amazing treks, thousand of kilometers in short periods to time. No question: kite-skiing will become more and more popular in Antarctic and other parts of the world where conditions are right.

Weber concludes, “I feel that I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to traverse this unique landscape at the bottom of the world.” More info.