Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ 2022 – South Pole

Celebrating Amundsen’s 150th

credit: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Expedition Updates

12 January 2023

Welcome home! Inspiring Explorers Mike and Laura, and Expedition Leader Nigel Watson NZAM have made it back to New Zealand.

After spending 50 days pushing themselves to their absolute limits in one of the most extreme environments on Earth, the Inspiring Explorers™ can be so proud of what they’ve accomplished in the spirit of exploration of the early polar explorers.

We wish them all a very well-deserved rest, and time catching up with friends and family.

Stay tuned for more stories from the team’s time on the Ice in the coming months!

Day 50

6 January 2023

The Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ South Pole team at the South Pole, L-R: Guide Bengt Rotmo, Inspiring Explorers Marthe Brendefur, Laura Andrews, and Mike Dawson, Trust Executive Director and Expedition Leader Nigel Watson. © AHT

We are incredibly excited to share the news – our team has finally arrived at the South Pole!!

The Inspiring Explorers, Mike, Laura, and Marthe, with expedition leader Nigel Watson and guide Bengt Rotmo, arrived late on 6 January after skiing almost 1000km over 50 days to the heart of Antarctica. Congratulations team, we are so so proud of you!

150 years since the birth of the first to make it to the South Pole, Roald Amundsen, Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ has shown just how far the explorer mindset can take you.

Here are the team’s reactions to reaching the South Pole in their own words.

Mike Dawson: “It’s overwhelming to be here. It was a surreal feeling seeing the South Pole marker after such a long journey. Compared with my white water adventures, this was a long slow burn, every day walking towards that goal for 50 days.”

Laura Andrews: “It’s more about the journey than arriving. We had an amazing team spirit and that carries you through the high and low points. To have this continuous time in this pristine and beautiful environment where one minute you have perfect snowflakes and the next dramatic sastrugi – it’s just incredible.”

Marthe Brendefur: “I have so much respect for what Amundsen and his team went through now that I have experienced how piercing, cold and ruthless Antarctica can be. I love the expedition life – even the unpleasant parts. I loved pulling my sledge, using my entire body to move it – it was really satisfying!

Expedition Leader Nigel Watson NZAM:

“Today AHT’s Inspiring Explorers South Pole Expedition™ reached our goal, skiing the last 28km. We are cold and tired but exhilarated to be on this spot in the footsteps of legends like Amundsen, Scott and Hillary, with tears, joy and weariness windy conditions. After 50 days of dragging sledges from the Ronne Ice Shelf we have made it to Pole. From the highs and lows along the way we have arrived.

“Our Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ #8 has had it all. It has inspired a new generation of explorers who will be part of the future guardians of the explorer’s legacy AHT cares for.

“Huge thanks to Bengt Rotmo, polar guide, who was calm, professional and generous in sharing his expertise with the team along the journey. To the Ousland Explorers team: Lars, Borge, Rune, and Amanda, thanks for all your hard work and support. Ousland Explorers are the best in the business.

“To the AHT team, huge thanks for the months of planning and support, especially Francesca, Anna, Paddy, Jess, and Karen. Thanks to ALE Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions and to the Thiels traverse team in particular. To our partners and sponsors: Clothing Partner Norrøna, Photographic Partner Canon, Amundsen’s House, Brynje of Norway, Fjellpulken, Helsport, Åsnes, and TrackMe NZ, thanks for your support.

“To the hundreds of young people who applied, we are excited about Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ #9 which will be our biggest yet, more details next month!

“For now the team are excited about getting home and reuniting with loved ones, but first we are all looking forward to a shower and change of clothes after 50 days. Thanks to you all for tuning in and following the journey. We are grateful for your support.”

Nigel Watson NZAM Expedition Leader

We want to express our gratitude to Expedition partner Ousland Explorers, Clothing Partner  Norrøna, Photographic Partner Canon, Roald Amundsen’s House, Brynje of Norway, Fjellpulken, Helsport, Åsnes, and TrackMe NZ, along with logistics provider Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions for helping make this expedition possible.

Day 49

5 January 2023

Update from Guide Bengt Rotmo

We skied for 10 hours and we are now 22km from the Pole. The day was cold and windy, with a bit of sun.

We are all excited about tomorrow!!!

😊 Bengt

Day 48

4 January 2023

Update from Mike Dawson

We’re tracking awesomely right now, another blinder of a day and now only 47km to the South Pole. Short sleep tonight and back on the skins tomorrow.
Four seasons in a day today with bad vis, winds and sweeping cloud banks roaming around on the Antarctic Plateau, before it cleared with a stunning Sun Dog right on what should have been sunset.
Distance today: 23.2km, altitude: 2775, location: S89.34
– Mike –

Many wonder how it is walking for weeks in a white desert. We navigate for two hours each, every day, doing our best to find the best path through the maze of sastrugi.

The rest of the day is spent in our own world. From the safety of our hood we build boats, houses, and garages, have conversations with our loved ones, plan new adventures, and ponder the big questions in life. Outside of our hood the landscape is ever changing with winds throwing snow around and far away mountains.

Day 47

3 January 2023

Update from Nigel Watson, Trust Executive Director and Expedition Leader

One day closer to Pole. Challenging conditions with flat light, low visibility and no horizon made navigating the focus of the day. The team did great work putting their compass and nav skills into practice. 22km covered. Cold day and everyone feeling the altitude but all in high spirits. We are slowly closing in on the goal.
– Nigel –

Day 46

2 January 2023

Update from Mike Dawson

The ultimate milestone for any polar expedition is to reach the 89th degree.

Today, in the early morning we crossed over into our final degree, a momentous occasion for the team. We skied 9 hours and finished the day 93km from our goal – the South Pole.

Weather is amazing, snow conditions while tough are good and the team is pumped. Not far to go now!


Thanks to our supporter Helsport, our team are using Spitsbergen X-Trem 3 Camp tents. They are designed for winter expeditions, sleep 3 people, weigh 5.91kg and when packed down measure only 50x24cm.

On reaching the final camp at the South Pole, Amundsen named his tent Polheim which means “house of the pole” in Norwegian. Several times during the South Pole journey, Amundsen writes about how hot it is in the tent. On the return journey from the Pole, Amundsen wrote on 14 January 1912:

“It has been so hot in the tent lately that several of us have to get out of the bags. Then we lie there in thin underwear on a skin on top of a large ice block – for the barrier is nothing but.”

Read more fascinating details on Amundsen’s tent on Roald Amundsen’s House’s website.

Olav Bjaaland’s iconic photograph of the tent they called Polheim. © Follo museum, MiA
Spitsbergen X-Trem 3 Camp tents © Helsport

Day 45

1 January 2023

Update from Laura Andrews

New Year’s Eve on the Ice. We are seeing in the new year in style, camping 3km north of the 89th degree. Today was another marvellous day where we went from some sastrugi to a dead pan of plateau, flat as the eye can see.

It’s another level of cold up here, we need to adjust our processes, add layers and stay vigilant.

This is a new year’s we won’t forget.


Day 44

31 December 2022

Blue bird day as we moved across the Antarctic Plateau towards the Pole. Currently at S 88°46 making steady progress South. Clear skies brought brutally cold temperatures and tough snow conditions, but rewarded us with a magnificent Sun Dog.

Loving all the messages of support and wishing everyone a happy new year and safe 2023.

Day 43

30 December 2022

Update from Laura Andrews

Rest day!!! After 18 days on the go since our last rest day at Thiel Corner, the team has taken a well-deserved rest day.  We cover approximately a half marathon a day, with a pulk full of gear behind us. It gets lighter every day but we get more and more worn down by the continuity of effort.

With the imminence of higher winds and cold temperatures it seemed a good idea to take our fresh supply of food and hunker down for a day of rest.
I slept for 14 hours straight…I ate lots of snacks, two dehydrated meals, caught up on my diary and prepared our 3rd and final Christmas celebration – Pavlova and Christmas crackers!

How lucky are we to get another day out here on the ice? The weather may be cold and windy, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining. We will tackle tomorrow feeling fresh, fuelled and ready to send it to the South Pole.
Mot Sydpolen!

– Laura –

Day 42

29 December 2022

Update from Expedition Guide Bengt Rotmo

The team have made it to their second food depot. From here they still have another 160km to go to the South Pole.

Update from Bengt:

Another milestone day today! We reached S 88°33 which meant the end of the rugged sastrugi and crevasses of the 87th degree and the welcome sight of our last depot!

The small flapping green flags and tracks in the snow symbolising the twin otter plane that dropped off our supplies and marks our buried dry bags of food. There’s nothing more exciting than digging into the snow, pulling out a dry bag, and opening the supplies you packed over 50 days ago. Seeing the treats that pre-expedition you decided to pack brings you a completely different level of joy.

This depot is symbol of the start of the closing of this trip. We now have all the supplies we need to reach the South Pole. It’s impressive and exciting, while simultaneously a bit sad as I’m not ready to leave this incredible place and re-immerse into the world. For now. One more week to soak it all in – all -30° of it!

📸 Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ South Pole team, L-R: Mike Dawson, Marthe Brendefur, Bengt Rotmo, Nigel Watson, Laura Andrews. © AHT/Mike Dawson

Day 40

27 December 2022

Audio Update from Mike Dawson

Day 37

24 December 2022

Update from Laura Andrews

‘Twas the night before Christmas, It was 25⁰ below,
Five polar explorers sat in a tent in the snow

3/4 of the way from the Ronne ice shelf to the South Pole,
38 days on the icy continent start to take a toll

Our bodies are weary, but our souls are alive,
Each day better and better, the time of our life

After a good day ski, enroute to the South Pole,
The team’s minds turn yonder to their loved ones back home

While not the kiwi summer or the Norwegian Christmas night,
Christmas in Antarctica still looks quite bright

Instead of the massive Christmas feast,
Polar explorers rehydrate a pack of reindeer stew to eat

No material gifts, wine or pavlova,
We will cherish the time here before it is over

Christmas is about family, friends and being together
And our polar family today makes expedition memories that will last for forever

So Merry Christmas! From the land of ice and snow,
Tomorrow we will ski onward towards the bottom of the globe

Your Inspired Explorers


Day 36

23 December 2022

Update from Guide Bengt Rotmo

We’re well in on the 87th degree. Terrain is changing by the hour. Rolling hills, with ups and downs – sastrugi and flat. Sunny and overcast. Windy, and at the moment no wind.

The days are really going into each other, we’re doing nine legs a day, five before lunch and four after. The camp is pitched in less than 15 minutes, and routines are mostly going automatic.

The team is happy, and we are looking forward to the 88th degree.

Cheers! 😊 Bengt

Day 33

20 December 2022

These are the days. Epic few km’s in the bag as we head South. Snow conditions are perfect, big hill climbs today so knocked off a bunch of gradient. Currently at 1900m elevation, the altitude feels higher here, does anyone know why?

86 deg 50 min.

Day 31

18 December 2022

Update from Laura Andrews

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

With 24-hour daylight in summer, our Inspiring Explorers are certainly getting their fill of the stunning Antarctic landscape! We asked Laura how they manage when everything around them 24-7 is bright and white:

A unique aspect of this Antarctic adventure is the 24 hours of sunlight. Completely new for the kiwi contingent, you lose all sense of time as the midnight sun rotates overhead.

Without the cues of dawn and dusk to trigger our circadian rhythm it’s easy to want to keep charging into the ‘night’. The first few days at Union saw us working till late at night while still feeling like midday.

We deal with the constant daylight by creating a solid routine. We work on the Chilean time zone to sync up with ALE and try to keep our wake up and bedtimes constant. However, if the weather is patchy we can easily shift our day. Some of us sleep with the luxury of an eye mask, while others use beanies to shield their eyes. Despite the light, after a solid day’s work it’s the best sleep in the world.

– Laura –

Day 30

17 December 2022

Update from Guide Bengt Rotmo

What a day! Sunny through light clouds. A light breeze and fantastic snow surface. We passed 86 degrees!! Our camp is at 86.13, we did 25km today. Very happy about that.

Everything has become a routine now, the days are floating into each other and it’s hard to tell the difference from day to day – only the diaries can. 😊

– Bengt –

Day 29

16 December 2022

Update from Mike Dawson

We’re halfway there!! We’ve just heard that our Inspiring Explorers™ team have made it past the halfway point!

Ticked over to our 4th week on the Ice living the simple life – sled, skis and slowly moving towards the Pole. Currently camping in amazing weather at 85’59,357 so will enter the 86th degree early tomorrow. Over halfway done and everyone is doing well and loving life. Changed to short skins and great snow conditions making for faster travel.

– Mike –

Day 28

15 December 2022

Update from Nigel Watson, Trust Executive Director and Expedition Leader

Yesterday, 111 years ago, Amundsen reached the South Pole. We are in awe of his speed of travel. Today saw us cover nearly 22km as the Thiel Mountains start to recede to our right. Gentle weather and reasonable surface for travel. Good to be in the tent and resting up before we rinse and repeat tomorrow.

– Nige –

Day 26

13 December 2022

Update from Laura Andrews

26 days in, 25 days of food left, 400km down, 500km to go. At this point in the expedition we have settled into a flow state, our routines are set, our timings precise and the team is working well together. We’re ready to tackle the next 500km!

The return of the sun after yesterday’s white-out revealed glorious views of the Thiel Mountains, it’s a welcome sight to have on the horizon. Every day we are grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Today we take a moment to acknowledge our family and loved ones back home, while we are so far away they are never far from our thoughts and their love and support helps us on our way. Out here on the ice the five of us have become a little polar family riding the highs, lows and everything in between in expedition life.

– Laura –

Day 25

12 December 2022

Update from Mike Dawson

The team has arrived at Thiel Corner for a resupply before the next stage of the expedition. After 23 days skiing, we skied into Thiel Corner after an easy 8.9km ski. Thiel Corner is a logistics hub and fuel depot supporting transport across the continent and we met a Kiwi/Canadian crew dropping supplies. We’ve reloaded with 21 days of food and have begun the second stage – 550km to the South Pole.


Day 23 -24

10-11 December 2022

Our Inspiring Explorers™ team have covered approximately 385km and made it to their first food depot at Thiel Corner where they have elected to take a well-deserved rest day.

Food depots were also a critical component of Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition strategy. In preparation for the party’s attempt, over several months Amundsen’s men laid three depots along their planned route, at 80°, 81° and 82°S, with a total of 3000kg of supplies stored.

Flags were planted to mark the locations of the depots, with black flags along the route also marking the distance to each of the depots. Laying the depots provided the men with valuable experience for the actual expedition, as well as helping lay the groundwork for its eventual success.

The Thiel Corner Skiway 85˚05’S 80˚47’W is a fuelling station for planes traveling between Union Glacier Camp and the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. From here the team should be able to see the mighty Thiel Mountains in the distance.

Day 22

9 December 2022

Update from Nigel Watson, Trust Executive Director and Expedition Leader

Clear skies and little wind today. Beautiful conditions with temperature of -20. incredible views of Thiel mountains to our west. Weaved our way through small sastrugi as we head south. Minds wandered as we continue to be moved by the infinite vastness. Today we reached 85 degrees south after 21km skiing. Another small milestone. Mind boggles at the incredible journeys and length of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton’s epic heroic-era journeys. The team are starting to really appreciate and be in awe of those inspiring explorers.

– Nigel –

Day 21

8 December 2022

Update from Marthe Brendefur

We are settling in our routines and beginning to know the gear. Building the camp goes faster every day, and our ears pick up on the small changes in the hum from the burner, letting us know that it needs attention. Although the days are longer, life feels easier. The team is good, the jokes are dry, and the sun is emerging from behind the clouds.

– Marthe –

Day 20

7 December 2022

Update from Bengt Rotmo, Expedition Guide

Wind in the face, 20 blue degrees, cloudy and low contrast. On days like this we make the contrasts in our mind. Thinking, make plans for the future, remembering bits from the past that was forgotten a long time ago and very often ideas for future expeditions come on days like this.

We take turns going in front. In front we need to be fully focused, navigating by the wind and the angle of the sastrugies. In all we did 20.2km, a bit less than we hoped for, but with the high snow friction we are happy anyways. Cheers!

🙂 Bengt

Day 19

6 December 2022

Update from Laura Andrews

Today we took a turn!!! For the last 19 days we have walked in a straight line, on the same bearing, heading not quite South to work our way from the edge of the continent and avoid some mountains and crevasse fields. Today we finally turned left! A momentous moment turning to 152°. After nearly three weeks of vast white plains there are mountains on the horizon. We’ve set our sights on Thiel Corner and our first resupply and then… the South Pole!

We aren’t heading directly South on the compass because we are heading to the geographic pole which is where the lines of longitude converge, the spinning point of the earth’s axis and the bottom of the world! We are going where Amundsen went.
Five happy explorers, one step closer to the Pole.
– Laura –

Audio Update

From Laura Andrews

Day 18

5 December 2022

Update from Mike Dawson

The last two days have flown by. Yesterday we covered 21km and another 21km today. Tracking well towards Thiel Corner and our resupply point. Tomorrow we will begin turning directly South after safely passing a crevasse field 6 km to our East, and can point directly at Thiels, with the ambition of arriving in 4 days. – Mike –

Day 16

3 December 2022

Update from Mike Dawson

A perfect day in paradise. The weather cleared and we banked another 18+km in great snow conditions. Fresh snow in the gaps amongst the sastrugi. Our sleds are getting lighter, but still battling some tough terrain. All in all life on the Ice is good and we’re South bound! – Mike –

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, TrackMe NZ, 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