The Ice Team
Attempting to cross the Antarctic in winter takes special men and equally special equipment. In the field of modern Polar exploration no one man is as distinctive as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the man recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as 'the world’s greatest living explorer'. Holder of several Polar endurance records Sir Ranulph was the first person to visit both the North and South Poles by surface means during the Transglobe Expedition (1979-1982), and the first person to completely cross the Antarctic continent on foot. He was the originator of The Coldest Journey and is leader of the Coldest Journey's 'Ice Team' – the expedition members making the actual crossing attempt.
With Sir Ranulph on the ice will be:
Brian Newham, Traverse Manager. An experienced British alpine mountaineer and advanced skier with considerable polar experience, Brian has spent more than 20 seasons in Antarctica and made nine visits to the Arctic. He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1992.
Ian Prickett, Ice Team Member. The only person to kite ski from the coast of the Brunt Ice Shelf through the British Antarctic Survey stations Halley 5 and Halley 6, Ian has participated in various expeditions ice climbing, camping and kiting and ran the first ever Halley Antarctic Marathon.
Rob Lambert, Expedition Team Doctor. Most recently Rob spent a year as doctor at British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station in Antarctica. As well as looking after the team's general health, Rob will also be responsible for gathering much of the human and physical sciences research data en route.
Spencer Smirl, Ice Team Mechanic. Spencer brings with him extensive knowledge of the Caterpillar D6 tractor and is well used to working in the complete darkness, extreme temperatures and isolation of high latitudes - since 2011 he has been overhauling bulldozers at the Ekati diamond mine facility near the Arctic Circle.
Richmond Dykes, Ice Team Mechanic. Richmond has worked as a mechanic on heavy track machines with the US Army in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and Ft Carson in Colorado. Currently depot supervisor at the Lafarge Cement Works maintaining all the mobile equipment, he was invited to join the Ice Team after an intensive selection process.
Attempting to cross the Antarctic during winter would be futile without highly specialist equipment, much of which, like heated clothing and global communications has only become available recently.
The cornerstones of the expedition are the two 'Ice Trains' each comprising a 20-tonne Caterpillar D6N tractor towing either the insulated 'caboose' as living quarters or the science and mechanical workshop, stores sledges and fuel scoots.
Heavily modified to cope in the extreme weather conditions, each 'Cat' is equipped with a blade for moving snow, filling small crevasses and breaking down sastrugi during the traverse and winches for hauling. When stopped a specially designed tented garage is unrolled from the roof of each Cat tractor to help keep it warm and allow for refuelling and maintenance to be done in shelter from the polar winds. The Cats also carry bespoke cloud and satellite communication technologies to enable real-time updates on the expedition's progress.
The team's clothing is equally critical. Amongst an enormous variety of base, mid and outer layers, gloves, boots, face masks and helmets, one notable high-tech feature is the integrated 'Power Loom' which provides power to heated helmet visors, gloves and boots as well as a head torch, radio headset and personal tracker.
On an expedition of such magnitude and daring as The Coldest Journey, communications are vital. Locally, the Ice Team will use personal radios to keep in contact with each other and the Landtrain. Via satellite, this in turn communicates with Operations HQ in London and from there developments can be shared with the media, the expedition's education programme and the world at large.
When it comes to capturing and storing a record of a once in a lifetime event, solid state media is the ideal solution. SanDisk has provided the Ice Team with SanDisk Extreme Pro® SDHC™ Cards for use in stills cameras and GoPro® video cameras. The definitive daily video record of the expedition will be stored and backed up for safe keeping on SanDisk Extreme® SSDs.
View the map below to see the latest position of the Ice Team. Co-ordinates are updated automatically every hour.
Phase 1: Transfer to Antarctica
SA Agulhas set sail from London on 6th December carrying expedition members and equipment to Antarctica. Expedition members and equipment will travel from Cape Town to Antarctica by ship, departing 7th January. The ship will tie up alongside the ice edge at Crown Bay (70°04’17″S -23°01’01″E), Queen Maud Land in Eastern Antarctica.
Phase 2: Static in the Sør Rondane area
A base camp will be established inland from Crown Bay at around S70,71398 E23,60958. Prior to the start of the traverse, equipment will be tested and checked and scientific work will be undertaken. A fuel depot will be placed above the initial steeper crevassed glacier section of the route at S72.72517 E24.15302. A further fuel depot may be laid further south at around 75S.
Phase 3: Traverse from the coast to Geographic South Pole
Distance: Approx. 2,223km
Duration: Approx. 84 days (63 days skiing; 21 days rest/contingency)
Scheduled departure date is 21 March, 2013. The traverse will travel from the coast via the depot(s) and will regain the traverse route used by Extreme World Races (EWR)/Arctic Trucks, who have driven this several times using modified Toyota Trucks. Progress will depend on the terrain, but the expedition will aim to travel an average of 35km per eight-hour-day throughout the traverse. The Ice Team will continue along the EWR/Arctic Truck route to the Geographic South Pole, an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) managed by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The expedition will approach and depart the South Pole in accordance with the ASMA instructions to avoid hazards and interference with stationoperations.
Phase 4: Traverse from Geographic South Pole to the Ross Sea
Distance: Approx. 1,600km
Duration: Approx. 61 days (46 days skiing; 15 days rest/contingency)
From the South Pole the expedition will follow the US Antarctic Programme (USAP) South Pole traverse route: travelling across the polar plateau and descending via the Leverett Glacier (85.63°S; 147.58°E) onto the Ross Ice Shelf and then via McMurdo Ice Shelf to the coast near to Ross Island. This is a well-tested route with known dangers. Crevasses at the shear zones at Leverett Glacier and Ross/McMurdo Ice Shelf are filled at the beginning of each summer and the route marked to facilitate the USAP South Pole Traverse.
Phase 5: Static McMurdo Ice Shelf
The expedition will proceed to the NGO base camp at McMurdo Sound (77.9°S; 166.7°E). Anticipated arrival will be around 21st September 2013, six months after setting off from Crown Bay.
Phase 6: Uplift
The team and all equipment will be uplifted from McMurdo Sound by the expedition ship in early February.