Antarctic Kite-Ski Crossing Ready to Begin

The coronavirus wiped out the 2020-2021 Antarctic season and it looked touch-and-go whether this year’s season would go ahead. Fortunately, the coldest continent is once again open for business.

Now, the first non-government expedition since January 2020 has landed in Antarctica. Brits Jamie Facer-Childs and Justin Packshaw flew into Antarctica yesterday and are now preparing for their 4,000km expedition.

First, the pair plan to kite-ski 1,770km from the Russian Novolazarevskaya base to the South Pole of Inaccessibility, the point on the continent that is furthest from the Southern Ocean. From there, they will continue for 900km to the South Pole. Finally, they make for Hercules Inlet, another 1,290km.

The proposed route. Photo: Chasing the Light Antarctica 2021


They have budgeted 80 days in total for the huge journey, but such a pace is not unprecedented. In 2019-2020, Australian Geoff Wilson completed a 5,306km kite-ski journey in just 58 days. His “longest polar journey” also took in the South Pole of Inaccessibility and finished at the Novolazarevskaya base.

Facer-Childs and Packshaw’s expedition will feature the usual scientific elements, with real-time physiological and psychological monitoring. Their snazzy website does a great job of relaying this information: stress levels, heart rate, and hours slept will all be tracked.

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam. A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon. He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon. His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.

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