Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2022 – South Pole

Celebrating Amundsen’s 150th

credit: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Expedition Updates

Days 13 and 14

30 November 2022 –

1 December 2022

Update from Marthe Brendefur

Team has had two big days. On day 13 we had a late start due to heavy winds, but managed to put in eight good legs with whiteout, snowfall, and varying temperatures. Experiencing a snowfall in Antarctica is something else – the flakes are delicate and have intricate details.

As the forecast predicted increasingly strong winds on day 14, the team decided to have an early start. The snow cascades in high speed over the sastrugi, and the wind leaves little room for mistakes. Everything left unsecured will fly away, and the windchill is a risk to exposed skin.

We are also happy to report that the kiwis have started to embrace the smell of Norwegian fish – some have even taken the step and enjoyed the freeze-dried delicacies. – Marthe –

Day 12

29 November 2022

Update from Mike Dawson

Day 12 – Another crazy day on the ice. Strong SE wind picked up during the day, still good times. Pretty exhausting battle with Sastrugi formations for the last couple of days has drained some energy. Plenty of high fives and good vibes, and managed to capture this shot of the team as the light cleared at the end of day. – Mike –

Day 11

28 November 2022

Update from Laura Andrews

Sastrugi – a Russian word for waves of ice carved by the extreme winds ripping across the continent. A daily constant for us, since the beginning they’ve gradually got bigger and bigger. Today started with a grind, low light and the team teetering blindly across the ridges and troughs of the sastrugi. Our old friend the sun came out in the afternoon revealing a panoramic vista of dramatic sastrugi fields with plunging gaps varying from 15cm to a metre high. The grind is real, but the views are worth it. One tired but happy team. – Laura –

Gallery – Days 1-10

Day 10

27 November 2022

Update from Nigel Watson, Trust Executive Director and Expedition Leader

Great to set off on the skis after a rest day. Feeling refreshed, we were met with fine weather and a gentle breeze. Our minds wandered in the morning as we got back in the rhythm. In the afternoon we encountered larger sastrugi which made for more challenging skiing. The endless horizon beckoned us on. We made camp and enjoyed life in our tent. 19 km today. All safe and well. – Nigel –

Day 8

25 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Mike Dawson

Finally, we have encountered the infamous wind Antarctica is known for. We left camp 7 to a building Southerly that grew during the day. With higher winds on the horizon it was a friendly reminder of how inhospitable this place can be. After 6 legs (12.4km) we called it a day to set camp and shelter especially with the forecast rising winds. All in good spirits and having a great time. – Mike

Day 7

24 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Laura Andrews

One week on the ice and we have just passed into the 83rd degree South!

Walking along in our train is an isolated experience, for 50 minutes at a time, for eight hours of the day, you listen to the whistle of the wind, the repetitive scrape of your pulk and the squeak of your poles propelling you forward. Sometimes we listen to music or audiobooks but often we lose ourselves in our thoughts and surroundings. It could be monotonous, but in every moment it’s incredible. – Laura

Day 6

23 November 2022

Update from Nigel Watson, Trust Executive Director and Expedition Leader

Marthe’s birthday today. We were tested with a cold start followed by light snow. The afternoon was nice until we encountered our first taste of wind. Camped after 16.4 km. Marthe surprised us with a cheesecake she had dragged all the way from Punta Arenas! Legend!!! – Nigel

Day 5

22 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Marthe Brendefur

Messner route – heaven and hell? Today we got heaven (in Antarctic measurements) but with the temperatures of hell. Nice and toasty with -23°C, sun, and no wind. We’ve encountered small heat issues instead of the expected cold ones. The team is loving life, cruising through sastrugi and sharing our best dry jokes. – Marthe

Day 4

21 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Mike Dawson

The team has set up camp 4. Seven legs of 50 minutes completing a total of 15.7 km. Starting to get into the groove. More wind (6m per second) making for cooler conditions. Currently the general weather has made for a gentle intro to Antarctica – Mike

Day 3

20 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Laura Andrews

Spirits are high with the team today! The sun is shining, the snow is firm, and it really feels like we’re settling in. We did six legs today, these consist of 50 minutes skiing, 10 minutes break and repeat. A beautiful day like today with the sun circling the sky above was a perfect opportunity to learn how to navigate using our shadows – important skills when the landscape is so similar in every direction. – Laura

Day 2

19 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Marthe Brendefur

First full day in paradise! We are slowly getting into a rhythm, taking our time now at the start. The team spirit is good, as is the weather. A tad more wind today. Made a nice camp, and the Norwegians are now working hard at acclimatising the New Zealanders to the smell of cod. We are confident they’ll love it by the time we reach the pole – Marthe

Day 1

18 November 2022

Update from Inspiring Explorer Mike Dawson

The Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ team have started their journey to the South Pole!

Laura, Mike, Marthe, Nigel and Bengt have taken the flight from Union Glacier Camp, and their last glimpse of civilisation for the next 40 or so days. The ALE flight dropped them to the Messner Start, which is named after Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs’ 1989 Antarctic crossing.

From here the team will face their greatest ever challenge as they take on one of the harshest environments on earth, testing themselves, their resilience, and their endurance to its limits.

The team have shared this message:

We landed on the Ronne Ice Shelf after a long flight over the Ellsworth Mountains to the edge of the Antarctic continent. We were feeling very isolated once the plane departed. So far, we have completed 7.3km in amazing weather (no wind and stunning visibility) – Mike.

16 November 2022

The team have arrived in Antarctica today. They are now at ALE’s Union Glacier Camp. The Inspiring Explorers have completed a communications check, made a plan for their resupply food depots, shared their route plan with the ALE team, and spent time with the on-Ice doctor for a check of their kit. They have set up their tents and are preparing equipment.

Find out more about ALE’s Union Glacier camp here.

Gallery – Team Preparations in Punta Arenas, Chile

8 November 2022

Update by Inspiring Explorer Laura Andrews

“Victory awaits him who has everything in order, luck some people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.” – Roald Amundsen

Halfway through our week in Punta Arenas and the team preparations are well underway. We have a growing task list, including shopping and packing 45 days of food, ensuring we have the essential gear and fine tuning the little luxury items. We are learning how to use the polar gear, how to layer and how to rescue each other from crevasses. This week has proved a great opportunity for team bonding as we have to work efficiently to get everything done the day before our planned departure from Punta Arenas on 12 November. Punta Arenas is an incredible place to get prepared, it’s been the hub of many Antarctic expeditions and it’s helping build the hype for our Antarctic Journey.

📸 Laura Andrews with the Åsnes skis the team are taking, developed in cooperation with Børge Ousland and Ousland Explorers; Marthe Brendefur, Laura Andrews and Bengt Rotmo unpack gear; Marthe Brendefur with one of the team’s Fjellpulken sleds. © Mike Dawson

Inspiring Explorer Laura Andrews, Punta Arenas, Chile © AHT/Mike Dawson
Unpacking gear, Punta Arenas, Chile © AHT/Mike Dawson
Inspiring Explorer Marthe Brendefur, Punta Arenas, Chile © AHT/Mike Dawson

4 November 2022

The team have met for the first time in-person and they are now all together in Punta Arenas, Chile.

3 November 2022

Today’s the day and we are incredibly excited for our Inspiring Explorers™ team!

New Zealand-based Inspiring Explorers Laura Andrews and Mike Dawson, along with expedition leader and Trust Executive Director, Nigel Watson, depart from Auckland on the first stage of their journey to the South Pole, and Norway-based Inspiring Explorer Marthe Brendefur and polar guide Bengt Rotmo, depart from Oslo. The team will meet in Punta Arenas, Chile where they will have a few days to prepare before heading down to the Ice.

Partners and Supporters

The expedition, in partnership with Ousland Explorers, is supported by Clothing Partner Norrøna, and Photographic Partner Canon, with logistics provided by Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE).

We are also grateful for the support of Roald Amundsen’s House, Brynje of Norway, Fjellpulken, Helsport, and Åsnes.

Expedition Partner
Clothing Partner
Photographic Partner

The South Pole Expedition team announced

The three Inspiring Explorers™ selected for the traverse of the South Pole are Auckland firefighter and medical first-responder, Laura Andrews, Norwegian Marthe Brendefur, an Intelligence Analyst, and New Zealand Olympian and Trust Mentor, Mike Dawson.

Inspiring Explorer and Firefighter Laura Andrews

Meet the South Pole Inspiring Explorers™

The expedition, in partnership with Ousland Explorers and with logistics and support from Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions, will be guided by Norwegian polar guide Bengt Rotmo and led by Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive, Director Nigel Watson.

Read the team’s bios here or by clicking through the photos below.

Bengt Rotmo
Ousland Explorers polar guide
Nigel Watson
Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director
Inspiring Explorer Marthe Brendefur
Inspiring Explorer Laura Andrews

Connecting young people with the spirit of exploration

To celebrate 150 years since the birth of legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen, Antarctic Heritage Trust is taking three Inspiring Explorers™ on the expedition of a lifetime. A Kiwi-Norwegian expedition team will undertake a guided traverse of close to 1000km from the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole, a route inspired by Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs’ Antarctic crossing.

The team will embrace the same spirit of exploration embodied by the legendary figures of heroic-era Antarctic exploration – Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton, and Carsten Borchgrevink whose legacy the Trust cares for. The team will also embody an explorer mindset, demonstrating curiosity, resilience, leadership, innovation, and team work.

Left: Roald Amundsen, Nome, Alaska 1923. © Norsk Polarinstitutt. Right: Amundsen, Hanssen, Hassel, and Wisting at the South Pole in 1911 (image cropped). © Norsk Polarinstitutt.

What does the expedition involve?

Antarctic Heritage Trust is taking three inspiring young people from New Zealand and/or Norway on a guided expedition to ski to the Geographic South Pole in late 2022 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen’s birth, the first to reach the South Pole. Antarctic Heritage Trust is the agency that cares for the legacy of Antarctica’s first explorers.

Led by the vastly experienced Norwegian polar guide Bengt Rotmo (Ousland Explorers), and Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson, the team will traverse close to 1000km from the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole, a route inspired by Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs’ 1989 Antarctic crossing.

Organised by Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) and Ousland Explorers (OE), the expedition will run from early November 2022 to early January 2023.

With temperatures ranging from -25°C to -40°C, the team will experience all types of weather and reach elevations of 2,800m skiing for up to 10 hours per day for over 40 days, each pulling a 60-80kg sled. In order to achieve this extremely strenuous trip, participants will need skiing, mountaineering or cold weather camping experience and the mental stamina to continue in extreme conditions when physically tried. Experience, a determined positive mindset, and adequate training will contribute to the overall enjoyment and wellbeing of the whole team. Technical skill, a high level of strength and aerobic fitness and a commitment to undertake rigorous daily training for several months leading up to the expedition will be required.

The team will fly to Punta Arenas, Chile and spend five days preparing food and equipment and preparing. An ALE flight will then take the team to Union Glacier in Antarctica where a further few days will be spent testing clothing and equipment.

Once the sleds are packed and the team is ready for departure, an ALE flight will drop them at the Messner Start. The team will commence the 40+ day journey skirting the western flank of the massive Fountain Ice Stream and the Transantarctic Mountains, before turning toward the final goal, the South Pole. Climbing gradually from sea level to 2,800m, the effects of altitude will be prominent. Wind, cold and white-out conditions will be constant, challenging the body, mind and spirit.

In the words of Amundsen:

“Shining white, glowing blue, black crevices lit up by the sun; this land looks like a fairy tale”.

On reaching the South Pole, the team will celebrate completing one of the most challenging expeditions imaginable, embracing the spirit of Amundsen and the early explorers whose inspiring legacy the Antarctic Heritage Trust cares for.

Unloading equipment from ALE Twin Otter at Messner Start © ALE/Carl Alvey
Skier hauls a sled on the Messner route to the South Pole © ALE/Carl Alvey
Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ - Greenland Ice Cap 2018

Why are we undertaking this expedition?

Antarctic Heritage Trust’s vision is Inspiring Explorers. We conserve, share and encourage the spirit of exploration. Caring for the Antarctic legacy of the first explorers, we also connect young people with the timeless spirit of exploration. We provide opportunities for young inspiring people to explore the world, and test their comfort zones.

The Trust’s Inspiring Explorers™ programme changes participants’ lives for the better. It creates a platform for participants to share inspiring stories and experiences with their communities and to a global audience through the Trust’s channels and their own community outreach. The ripple effect goes deep into Inspiring Explorers’ communities, encouraging others to explore.

This once in a lifetime trip will offer people a chance to challenge themselves in the world’s most extreme environment under the guidance of expert Norwegian guide Bengt Rotmo (Ousland Explorers), and New Zealand explorer and Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director, Nigel Watson.

Participants will embrace the same spirit of exploration as the early polar explorers on their own remarkable journey to celebrate 150 years since the birth of legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen.

Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ - Greenland Ice Cap 2018

What are Inspiring Explorers’ Expeditions?

The Trust’s Inspiring Explorers’ Expeditions™ provide opportunities for young people to experience the world’s polar regions. These expeditions engage people with the legacy and spirit of exploration, inspiring a new generation of explorers. As part of this social contract, we expect Inspiring Explorers™ to connect with, engage and inspire their communities by sharing the incredible experiences they are privileged to have through their participation in the programme. They also become part of the Trust’s valued alumni.

Previous Inspiring Explorers Expeditions™

Follow a manual added linkFollow a manual added linkLink to: Antarctic Peninsula 2019
Link to: Greenland Ice CapLink to: Climbing Mount Scott, Antarctic PeninsulaLink to: Crossing South Georgia