The Coldest Journey
The phone conversation way back in June 2011 went a bit like this:
‘Hello….this is Ran….Ran Fiennes, I was wondering if you’d be able to offer advice and support for a new expedition we’re planning….we’re going to cross Antarctica in Winter and we’ll be experiencing temperatures of -70°C and possibly -90°C.……..’
Fast forward seventeen months and on the 6th December the ice-strengthened research ship, ‘SA Agulhas’ will set sail for the 'The Coldest Journey'– the first-ever trans-Antarctic winter expedition.
After a 3 month journey, on the 21st March 2013 - the six expedition members including Sir Ranulph Fiennes, aged 68, will begin a six month journey to reach the Ross Sea. Their route from the Russian base of Novolazareskaya (‘Novo’) to Captain Scott’s base at McMurdo Sound – via the South Pole – will test the limits of human endurance. During this six month period the expedition team will travel nearly 3,200 kilometres, mostly in complete darkness in temperatures as low as -90°C. The expedition team will have to be entirely self-sufficient and there will be no search and rescue facility available, as aircraft cannot penetrate inland during winter, due to darkness and risk of fuel freezing.
Previously, the furthest any expedition has ever ventured into Antarctica during the winter is 60 miles. On this forthcoming journey, Sir Ranulph and his team will aim to cover 2,000 miles in six months, crossing the polar plateau at an average height of 10,000ft above sea level.
There is no denying that the challenges that lie ahead for the team are vast, we feel fortunate to have been able to work with Sir Ranulph Fiennes over the last 12 months to ensure he is well equipped for the climate.
But where do you start with planning your kit requirements for such an epic trip? We advised Ran on the lightest and warmest gear. The team then conducted 'cold chamber' tests at Millbrook using this gear. Individuals spent time in a big freezer and were monitored for 'cold spots' using technology supplied by the University of Portsmouth.
Amongst the many bits of kit and clothing that Sir Ranulph will have in his 'kit bag' he will take 2,400 Little Hotties handwarmers, 18 pairs of Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 leggings & Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 tech top, 100 MSR Fuel Bottles, Black Diamond Lynx Shovel, & MSR XGK-Expedition-Stove, plus a years supply of chocolate and Pot Noodles!
While the ultimate objective is to completeThe Coldest Journey, the exploration team intend to raise USD10 million for Seeing is Believing – a global initiative led by Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries.
Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports are proud to be recognised as the Official Retail Partner of the expedition and wish the entire team the very best of luck in raising funds and in achieving their goal of being the first explorers to cross the Antarctic in Winter.