This appears to be a popular season for expeditions to Antarctica. Big name adventures such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Tim Jarvis, and Eric Larsen are all trying to accomplish a "first" while highlighting the effects of global warming on the continent. Almost all the expeditions will be sending daily dispatches, so you can follow along without the need to withstand constant sunlight (or darkness in Sir Ran's case) and -80ºF winds.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes is leading a team of explorers to conquer one of the last great polar challenges: crossing Antarctica in winter. The 2000-mile journey across the continent has for many years been considered too perilous to try. Sir Ranulph's six man team will have to overcome temperatures dropping close to -90ºC and operating in near permanent darkness.
A fund-raising initiative will run side-by-side with the expedition with the aim of raising $10m for Seeing is Believing to help fight blindness around the world and the team will collect crucial scientific data to form the basis of an education programme.
The team won't actually be hitting the skis until the end of March, but their boat full of expedition members and equipment has already set sail from London. The expedition website provides loads of interesting information, particularly the cold chamber testing of gear. I would love to know which high altitude expedition mitts didn't stand up to the test.
A personal friend of mine, Eric Larsen has just set foot on the Antarctic continent, hoping to complete the world-first bicycle journey to the South Pole. Covering nearly 750 miles, the route will traverse from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole, and if conditions permit, 750 miles back to the coast again. You can follow Eric's daily updates, podcasts, videos, real-time tracking, and more from the Eric Larsen Explore website or follow #CycleSouth on Twitter.
The goal of the Cycle South expedition is to combine adventure and advocacy to demonstrate the many ways in which people can use a bicycle to protect our environment as well as improve the quality of our lives. The expedition will raise money for several bicycle-themed advocacy groups (Parkinson's Disease, Climate Change, Bicycle Accessibility, and Developing Nation Bicycle Donations).
Sponsored by The North Face, the Mission Antarctic team started from the Falklands and sailed through the Drake Passage on a 20 meter boat. Sailing around the Fjords of the Antarctica Peninsula, the expedition will search for lines for athletes Xavier De La Rue and Lucas Debari to ride on the continent.
The expedition vessel is currently stuck on the shallow bottom of a little hidden bay, lying on its side at a 25-degree angle. They are waiting for the tide to come back up to it’s full position before they will be able to get out of there. Follow the updates online and #MissionAntarctic on Twitter.
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition is one of the greatest survival stories in history. In honour of Shackleton’s remarkable 800 nautical mile voyage across the Southern Ocean, from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and his crossing of its mountainous interior, the expedition will sail a purpose-built, exact replica of Shackleton’s 22.5-foot (6.9m) lifeboat across the same stretch of open ocean and then attempt to cross the rugged peaks of South Georgia.
A crew of five British and Australian adventurers will join expedition leader Tim Jarvis in an attempt to become the first to authentically re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s perilous voyage. To this day, no-one has successfully re-enacted Shackleton’s complete double journey across sea and land using traditional gear. The team is getting ready to set out, and you can follow along on the Shackleton Epic website.
There are numerous solo ski expeditions underway at the moment, including Rab athlete Richard Parks as part of his next, yet to be revealed, world first project. Explorers Web always puts together a nice aggregation of all the current expeditions out on the ice sheet.
Following all these adventures really makes me want to plan a trip to Antarctica soon. Vinson anyone?