A team of British and Canadian explorers endured seven weeks of howling winds and sub-zero temperatures to become the first expedition to reach the geographic centre of Antarctica on foot.
Dragging 260lb sledges, the team travelled more than 1,050 miles on foot or by kite ski to reach Antarctica’s Pole of Inaccessibility – the furthest point from any ocean – on Friday, according to a statement posted on the expedition’s website.
Located more than 12,221 feet above sea level, the Pole of Inaccessibility was first visited in 1958 by Soviet explorers who reached the remote outpost in a convoy of snow vehicles.
The team – led by Canadian Paul Landry – said it was surprised to find a bust of Vladimir Lenin erected by the Soviets nearly half a century ago still standing amid the ice.
“We noticed a black dot on the horizon – as we got closer an outline of the bust started to appear – we could not believe it,” the team said in a brief statement. “We are all so exhausted that we have only just put up the tent with Lenin’s stern gaze over us!”
The team, called N2i, also includes Britons Rupert Longsdon, Rory Sweet and Henry Cookson.
The three Britons won the 2005 Polar Challenge, a competitive 350-mile race to the North Pole, with no Arctic experience. They then hired Landry, veteran polar explorer who has led numerous Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, to guide them to the former Soviet base.
It took the group 49 days to complete their journey from the Russian scientific base Novolazarevskaya, located on the Antarctic coast north-north-west of the Pole of Inaccessibility. They will now fly to another Russian base, Vostok, before travelling on to Cape Town, South Africa.
The Pole of Inaccessibility lies 540 miles north-east of the South Pole. It was first reached by Soviet explorers on December 14, 1958, and was used briefly as a meteorological research base.
The area was last visited by a six-man French team, which passed through the Pole of Inaccessibility on a trans-Antarctic expedition supported by dog sledges in 1989-90, according to the Australian Antarctic Division.