South Pole expedition for Amundsen’s birthday | Polarjournal
The video introduces the NZAHT’s planned expedition and asks the question: do you have the skills and determination to undertake this expedition in the spirit of Amundsen? Video: NZAHT

With his success in becoming the first person to stand at the southernmost point on Earth, Norwegian Roald Amundsen cemented his place in history and is considered the most successful polar explorer. His meticulous preparations and planning skills are still considered a model for many expeditions in the polar regions today. As part of its “Inspiring Explorers” program, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust NZAHT plans to celebrate the 150th birthday of the Norwegian with a nearly 1,000-kilometer expedition to the South Pole and is calling on young explorers from New Zealand and Norway to sign up.

Anyone who is a Norwegian or New Zealand citizen and ideally under 35 years of age, who is not afraid of the physical and mental strain of cold and exertion, and who is willing to pull a sled weighing around 60-80 kilos on skis for almost 1,000 kilometers through Antarctica, is a candidate for the NZAHT’s “Inspiring Explorer” expedition. This is part of the Trust’s list of requirements for potential candidates for its largest and most challenging expedition to date under the Inspiring Explorers program. The goal is nothing less than to reach the geographic South Pole on skis, just as Amundsen and his companions Hanssen, Hassel and Wisting once succeeded.

On December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen and his companions Hanssen, Hassel and Wisting became the first humans to reach the South Pole. This was a huge success for the still young Norwegian state. Image: Archive Norsk Polarinstitutt

We are looking for people who can demonstrate explorer qualities such as resilience, teamwork and curiosity.

Nigels Watson, Executive Director NZAHT

With this expedition, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust wants to celebrate the legacy and spirit of Roald Amundsen, the greatest and most successful polar explorer, on the occasion of his 150th birthday. “We want to create a team of Kiwis and Norwegians who embody the spirit of explorers like Amundsen, who would be excited to be part of this incredible journey and share it with others,” explains Nigel Watson, NZAHT’s executive director and expedition leader. “Overall, we’re looking for people who can demonstrate explorer qualities like resilience, teamwork and curiosity to meet the challenges we’ll encounter.”

The expedition will follow the spirit of Amundsen and will also be led by a Norwegian, namely the well-known and experienced Bengt Rotmo. But unlike more than 100 years ago, the route will not start from the Ross Sea and head toward the South Pole. Departure will be from Punta Arenas, where an airplane will take participants to the Union Glacier Camp of the provider Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions ALE. From here, the group will then ski their way to the South Pole along a route similar to that once taken by Reinhold Messner and Arved Fuchs. Watson and the NZAHT expect the entire tour to last 40 days or more. “This will be an extreme expedition. We’ll have to navigate challenging terrain and weather on skis while towing heavy sleds,” Watson says. “While there will be breathtaking scenery and moments of sheer joy, there will also be times during the 40-plus day journey when bodies will ache, you will want to give up and you will need all a your mental strength and resolve to pull you or your teammates through.”

The NZAHT’s planned expedition is the sixth of its kind to give young explorers the opportunity to explore the world, go beyond their own limits, and then tell the world about it, as Hollie Woodhouse did here during the 2018 Greenland Crossing. Image: AHT

For interested Norwegians and New Zealanders who meet the requirements, the NZAHT says there is a unique opportunity for a life-changing experience. To go beyond one’s own limits, to experience an unknown world and to share these experiences with the public afterwards is the main mission of NZAHT’s “Inspiring Explorers” program. “For those few people who are lucky to experience the beauty and vastness of Antarctica, they have the responsibility to return home and to share their stories with their communities to highlight the importance and fragility of Antarctica to the world,” says Nigel Watson. Just as Amundsen had done over 100 years ago and amazed the world.

If you want to learn more about this expedition, you can find more information here on the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust website. Deadline for registration is June 13, 2022 (NZ time zone).

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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