Follow an amazing journey to the Antarctic!

Explorer Sir Rober Swan, his son, and their team are on their way to the South Pole. Along the way they’re braving sub-zero temperatures, hard weather conditions, and a gruelling journey. Not only that, they will be only be using cutting-edge clean energy technologies to survive in one of the harshest environments known on Earth.

The South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC) is part of 2041 Climate Force, a mission by explorer Robert Swan and son Barney Swan not only to reach the South Pole, but also to highlight the catastrophic effect mankind is having on the environment, and to demonstrate how we can also help through everyday actions and through the use of innovative energy-efficient, energy-saving and clean energy technologies.

Get involved!

We want you to get involved with our Climate Force Challenge! Follow the amazing journey, learn about climate change and clean energy technology, see what energy saving changes you can make at your school, college, youth group or at home!

Find out more about the Roots & Shoots Climate Force Challenge!

Latest developments for the South Pole Energy Challenge

Follow the expedition with regular updates to find out how it’s going!

 

Date: 19th December 2017

The South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC) team has achieved a major milestone in their expedition. Despite grueling conditions, including extreme winds and freezing temperatures they’ve reached the half way point. After Wednesday, December 20th – the longest day of the year – the team will begin to lose sunlight leading to extreme cold.   However, the team’s pace of just less than 10 nautical miles per day is behind the needed pace to remain on schedule.

Under these circumstances, world renowned explorer Robert Swan has decided to return to Base Camp at Union Glacier to allow the team to move along at a faster pace and reach the South Pole before the season closes and conditions deteriorate further. He will however meet back up with the SPEC team at the 89th parallel to complete the last 60 miles of the expedition to arrive at the Geographic South Pole

Robert is in good health and has shown incredible mental and physical fitness to reach the halfway point. He is proud of what the group has achieved together but is ever-focused that this expedition is not about him or any one man – it is about the overall mission. Robert will continue to play a lead role in the expedition and is determined to ensure that the rest of the team, together with his son Barney, complete this historic challenge. They’re doing it to raise awareness of the need for more and cleaner energy, and continue the legacy set by Robert.

We are proud of Rob, Barney and the team and will continue to support them throughout this extraordinary journey.

 

Day 29

Travelled 10.75 nm today/ It may not seem too much but it was a really strenuous day. It’s all uphill now and dragging this heavy sled behind really take a toll on the muscles. . We will continue to climb uphill another 1500 meters as we rise to reach the Polar Plateau. Then it will be more of an incline, but we will be dealing with altitude then as well. Thankfully it was a beautiful sunny day with a 10knot wind blowing down from the plateau so not too bad a day.

We are eating well, sleeping well and excited for the remaining 300nm that we will cover to the South Pole. We are missing Robert but now we have a little more space…sorry Rob. To date we have shared 2 x 2-man tents. Revolving every few days but always sharing. Now with one more space available it’s a treat. We are calling the tent with only one person “the Batchelor tent” and we draw straws to see who gets it. It’s amazing that in our small world inside this enormous continent the little things that make you happy…like 2 more feet of space in a tent, less snow to melt and perhaps more food per day!!…again we miss you Rob!

We are reducing the sleds by about 1.5kg/day. This is the food that we consume over 2/3 meals. You can feel the difference the next day…or maybe it’s psychosomatic. It will make a big difference in these coming days as we climb and drag the sleds behind us.

Rob and Barney made some great choices with the technology. I have been really impressed by how much fuel we have saved using the bio fuel and how much less we are using with the solar panels connected to the sleds. This will make future travel so much more efficient and with less impact. Which is always about for guides.

That’s why I am so proud to be the navigator on this Expedition. They are really working hard to make a difference and I hope all their efforts will impact so many more lives for a bigger shift in how we are working in unison with this planet.

Martin

 

Day 30

An incredible 14.4 nm covered today. We are all tired but feeling really proud of the journey so far. We have now been skiing for 30 days. It is hard to believe. Some of us have lost a little weight and some gain as well. We are all however, much stronger in mind and body.

Once camp is set up, dinner consumed there is not much energy left for anything. We miss having news of home and what is happening in the outside world. We could easily be on another planet. We are working well as a team and sharing the responsibilities of Polar Travel. Where possible I am taking images and video so that we are recording the journey to share with sponsors.

We plan to take December 25th as a day of rest. We will need it by then, but in the meantime….we march onward and upward.

Kyle

 

Day 31

Whilst technology, communication, and content creation are key parts of this journey, it feels like this expedition is becoming more of a mind/body challenge. All other priorities are fading by the wayside. One step in front of another is all we can focus on during the 9 hours of marching.

Something memorable happened today during our second last march whilst leading. I was focusing on a faint cloud formation on the horizon- trying to keep our bearing straight as possible. No music . A light wind. Overcast conditions cut out any shadows or contours in the ice.  It was like moving on a tread mill inside a giant cloud.

It felt like I disappeared for 10 seconds or so. All thoughts, pains, efforts to ski, even my focused breath dropped out. Eyes wide open, skiing in tempo focusing on that one point.  It was one of the most stilling moments I have experienced out here. There was a subtle humming that continued for 15 minutes after. My blisters and aching body soon returned to full sensations too!

We ended up covering 12.6 NM today.

14.4 NM yesterday.

This place connects leaves your raw and vulnerable- not always in such calming ways as mentioned above. With no option for anything else but ice, wind, sky, and yourself it leaves a lot of room to think. Without the Welshman and South African for a reference it would be a whole other level.  Much respect for the soloists who face this place on their own.

Song of the day on repeat in my head

“I’m not worried at All”

Moby

Sending everyone some festive vibes from the middle of somewhere.

Barney

 

Day 31

Many of the schools following us have asked for some Antarctic Trivia….here we go

  • There are mountains under the ice – In 1958, scientists made a startling discovery under the ice in Antarctica: mountains! The Gamburstev Mountains were discovered when scientists trekking across ice two miles thick suddenly found themselves on thin ice. Beneath the ice they found a mountain range with peaks 9,000 feet high, stretching for 750 miles.
  • There are 2 ATM’s in Antarctica – Believe it or not, if you need some quick cash at the McMurdo Station – the largest scientific research station on the continent – you’re in luck because Wells Fargo installed two ATMs there in 1998. McMurdo is essentially a small town, with coffee shops, a general store, a post office, etc. This closed micro-economy needs cold hard cash to function properly. Only one of the two machines is operable at any given time, and the trustworthy crew at McMurdo has been trained to repair the machines – swapping parts back and forth if need be.
  • There is only one insect in Antarctica – Insect lovers living in Antarctica only have one species to observe: Belgica antarctica. This wingless fly is also the continent’s largest terrestrial animal at just 2-6 millimeters long. It’s also quite a trooper: as a larva, it survives the total freezing of its bodily fluids.
  • Some parts of Antarctica have not seen snow or rain for almost 2 million years! – Talk about a dry spell: there are dry valleys in Antarctica that haven’t experienced precipitation for 2 million years! Sure, 98% of the continent is covered in ice, but this is the driest place on the planet after all. Antarctica is still intensely cold despite the low precipitation, with howling winds contributing to the overall discomfort.
  • Robert Swan is in the Guinness book of world records as the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. He led a 3 man Expedition to the South Pole arriving on January 11 1986 and 3 years later led an eight man expedition arriving at the North Pole on May 14 1989. So cooool

 

Day 33 – Robert Swan is now at Base Camp

I am now in base camp and monitioring the SPEC Expedition Team closely.

I thought we would take  break from the boys today and share some weird information about renewable energy that you may now know. While we are using solar and bio fuels on the South Pole Energy Challenge there are many other interesting ways of creating energy. Here are some from our friends at Green Future……

(See the full list in our special blog post!)

Day 34

Tonight I thought we would take a moment to remind ourselves WHY…the SPEC Team are skiing across Antarctica. It’s the highest, driest, coldest and windiest place on earth…east of the sun, west of the moon and south of everything else.

Our mission is that we can make a journey, 600 miles, 65 days on skis using only renewable energy. Not just to show the technology but to remind ourselves that renewable energy can save lives, eliminate poverty and create water where there may be none available.

One-third of the food we currently produce in the world is wasted and food insecurity remains a pressing challenge. Surely, it is a paradox that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet 12% of the world population is estimated to be malnourished? Or that sub-Saharan Africa, which experiences food insecurity, could actually meet the minimum annual food requirements of at least 48 million people if after harvest grain losses could be avoided ?

So please know that Team SPEC are fully aware that sustainable energy can greatly help reduce loss and feed the starving around the world. We know that the UN is an old hand when it comes to sustainable energy initiatives and we have taken that initiative to Antarctica. With the support of our incredible sponsors and in particular Shell, Commvault, Judith Neilson and Hooxi Water we have been able to amplify this message and hopefully gain more awareness for the technology that is already available and what can be done to help others in need.

UNEP’s for example invited partners and industry to work together to work to find a better refrigeration solution in 2001. The project partners gave themselves the sole mandate to develop a technology that would serve the purpose, make it freely available to interested manufacturers worldwide, and promote its uptake internationally. They were able to develop a prototype unit utilizing solar chill technology A unique feature of the technology was that the energy of the sun is stored in the ice instead of in batteries. The equipment is powered by renewable energy from the sun collected via photovoltaic solar panels.

There are so many people working to find solutions and at this festive time of year take a moment to think of those we might help and thank those who never give up trying. Thank you….Team SPEC…

Anne K – HQ support

 

Day 36

Hoping everyone is recovering from too much fun and lots of jovial time with family and friends. We send big love to all of our families who afforded us the time to ski to the South Pole, but understand it is for a greater good and for the children we have and those in our future.

We thank all of our supporters big and small for believing in us and the South Pole Energy Challenge mission. We thank all of our followers for sending us your thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement. You have no idea how much they inspire us.

We thank all the schools that are on this journey with us and look forward to speaking to many of you on our return. And to teacher Wendy Gediman without whom our education platform would never have existed.

We thank our core team back at home – Jeff, Shevy, Divya, Trent and Brian. They are working hard on the next expedition for Rob and I, which is CF 2018, departing in February 2018. Check the website for details as there are only a few places remaining http://www.2041.com/cfa18/

This journey has been more difficult than I thought in many different way, but with the support of such an incredible Team….we are strong

Barney

 

Day 37

We are gaining altitude with each passing day. However it is not a straight up hill. We are crawling are way across giant waves in the glacier. It is always daunting to see a big rise growing on the horizon, knowing that we have to go down before rising up once more.

All three of us are having issues with our boots and feet, constant repair is needed to ensure nothing gets too bad. The humor remains strong as ever.

The giant wind carved sastrugi make for interesting viewing, some of the formations are truly out of this world. They also can be super painful to fall into….

We have around 180 NM to go before reaching the pole, as the bird flies! Passing 87 degrees marks this.

Some words from my diary-

___

Fast from thoughts

Let the spin drift take them

Shadows curl around

Bearing remaining true

We borrow everything

 

Until we turn white

The void less blue

Manage the moment

Black and white

All the grey between

Remember

Incapacity is a chain laid

Open your eyes

To the one who lays the chain

 

Leave the thoughts

To ice and sky

For a heavy load can seem light

It is just a frame

Body and mind

__

Goodnight from another sunny evening

Barney

 

Day 38

A rough one today with the sastrugi getting the better of us. The mileage is dropping but the effort is full on. It takes all our energy to get through these days. The journey is all uphill and we were walking into a head wind as it blows down from the Polar Plateau creating a resistance that one might find in the NASA astronaut training center!

The pulks feel heavier and every muscle is working overtime. The smallest blisters and bumps are engaging in this trauma and when we reached the tents tonight, I am not sure any of us spoke much. Just eat….then sleep.

We still were able to cover 10.2 nm which was a miracle in itself. The sastrugi is the highest we have seen to date and I hope it will be for the remainder of this Expedition. Though something tells me….perhaps not. The break stops were shorter as now with temperature at -22° C you get cold quickly. Although nothing stops me from my CSM Bars……..not even Antarctica!!

Which reminds me of the little note I found inside one of the bars…..from Michael Hesler  “Speaking on behalf of the CSM team it has been an honor to serve you Robert and Barney and a genuine pleasure to solve the technical challenges associated with the product development.  I should mention a non-CSM gentleman whose research provided us with an insight leading to our eventual success.  Dr. Michael A. Berthaume’s numerous publications regarding tooth geometry and diet prompted us to think about the problem of eating a frozen bar differently.  Michael was kind enough to correspond with me and I hope our collective thought processes have led to a food product that is practical and enjoyable even if eaten frozen.”

Maybe I will have just a little more now……until tomorrow

Barney

 

Day 39

All’s well here in camp. Another long day but no wind….which makes us extremely happy and we did our second longest day of the trek so far.

The cloud cover is causing the light to be flat so we stumble and fall on several occasion. But we are still moving and moving well. We welcome our Last Degree Team, David, Chris, Ghazala, Daniel, Tem and Keith, who have started to arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile for their departure to Antarctica next week. They are joining us from around the world and will meet Robert at Union Glacier, Antarctic then fly to meet us at 89°S in a short while. We promise we will wash for your arrival!!

Sleep is calling. Have a great evening everyone………………..

Kyle

 

Day 40

We skied 9.6nm today and today was another tough day. No contrast, lots of wind and everything directly into our faces. We are stronger with the amount of exercise we do every day but Antarctica continues to test us beyond anything we thought possible.

Trying to fashion your thoughts so that you can think of  something more than “how will I get thru today”…is difficult. I was told by Dad and others that this section would be the test of my endurance. How right they were. All the training, all the endurance does not truly prepare you for Antarctica. When she decided your day will be tough…there is no hiding.

Now back in the tent and ready for some warm food, warm sleeping back….little talk and a solid 9 hours sleep before we do the same again tomorrow….

Barney

 

Day 41

Well, as you might imagine, we are getting fairly tired of our standard rations. But tonight for Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve for all those that don’t have Scottish descendants!). It’s been another long day but tonight we’re looking forward to enjoying  a small dram of whisky – provided by friends of ours at the Ardgowan Distillery. They’re the people who designed and built the solar snow-melters we’ve been using on expedition, and we’ll be adding a wee drop of the water they’ve melted to our Ardgowan Expedition malt whisky to bring in the New Year.

We’re certainly not the first explorers to have drunk whisky in Antarctica – it was definitely enjoyed at field base in early expeditions – but there’s no record of anyone ever having taken any to the South Pole. A few early adventurers tried to make some kind spirit to drink – on Mawson’s 1912 expedition they made a (literally) poisonous concoction called ‘Tanglefoot’ by ‘boiling raisins in primus methylated spirit’ which, not surprisingly, tasted awful. Definitely don’t try that at home!

Thankfully, we have two small flasks of malt whisky – one which we plan to drink tonight, and another we’re taking all the way to the South Pole, and then back to Scotland – where it will then become part of some very exclusive Ardgowan Expedition malt whisky. I think we can safely say this will be the most southerly dram in the world!

But wherever you are, we wish all of our family, friends, sponsors and supporters lots of love, laughter and new adventures in 2018.

Barney, Kyle, Martin…..and Robert

 

Day 42

As we continue to climb up to the Polar Plateau we want to highlight the incredible support we have from our partners and without whom we would never have been able to make this journey a reality.  Each supporter was handpicked by Robert to ensure his vision was in line with their companies mission. We asked Commvault for a few words about the partnership and they offered the following;

At Commvault, we are especially proud to join this #EverydayRemarkable journey with Robert and Barney as the official Data Partner, assuring that the images, videos, audio and data from Antarctica are protected and distributed.  We do this via the Commvault Data Platform, the world’s leading data protection software.  For this assignment, the Commvault platform is running on the Microsoft Azure cloud, with data being funneled through an Azure data center in South America.  We are leveraging Commvault Edge —  sync and file share software — that allows the team to upload data and then share it with all partners globally.  Our Commvault Managed Services team make it all possible.

Commvault’ s CMO Chris Powell will join the expedition shortly for the final push to the South Pole.  Every day, around the world, Commvault  software and services protect the remarkable journeys of companies and organizations of all sizes.

Thank you in particular to Chris Powell and Bill Wohl who have been with us every step of this Expedition.

 

Day 43

Today a flight left Punta Arenas, Chile bound for Union Glacier, Antarctica. Aboard the flight are 6 intrepid explorers who will join Robert and the SPEC Team to ski the Last Degree with them to the Geographic South Pole.  Tonight I would like to introduce you to two of them….Chris Powel and Daniel D’Hotman. Over the next 2 weeks we will follow their journey with Robert and they will meet up with the SPEC Team.

  • Chris Powell

When Rob came to speak earlier this year at Commvault, employees were inspired by his message and we saw a clear link between his mission and Commvault – both what we do, and how we work. Commvault helps our customers on the path to achieving remarkable things through managing and protecting data, and internally – our promise to our people is that they have the freedom to make an impact, together. So when Rob first approached us to partner with him on the South Pole Energy Challenge – we jumped at the opportunity.

We’re honored to be the official data partner of the 2041 Foundation to help protect the data surrounding their efforts of conservation. For me personally, joining the expedition was a matter of “walking the walk” to underscore our commitment to enabling the remarkable, to sustainability, and to the freedom for our employees to make an impact.

  • Daniel D’Hotman

My name is Daniel D’Hotman, and I recently finished my final medical exams in Australia. I’m currently training in British Columbia, Canada, for the Last Degree, where I will join the final 60 miles of the South Pole Energy Challenge with five others. Barney Swan and I met 13 years ago, in Far North Queensland, Australia. Since then we have remained best friends. When the opportunity arose to join Barney on SPEC, the ultimate adventure, and work towards improving renewable energy technologies, a cause we are both passionate about, I did not hesitate.

Upon returning to Australia, I want to maximize the impact of 2041’s education program to bring SPEC’s message to 20,000 Australian children and a variety of businesses and corporates. Australia is a small country, but we have one of the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita globally. This must change.

We want SPECs education program to empower the students of today to make better decisions – for their children’s sake. I want to be part of the solution to changing the fossil fuel paradigm. SPEC is an important step on this journey.

 

Day 44

Today we made the final few miles to our final cache. We are at 88.13s. Tonight I get the special treatment and spend the night in the bachelor tent. A little more space is such an indulgence on this Expedition. It is still blowing 20knots outside and it seems a long way to the other tent.

Wind chill currently registers -37°C. We travelled 4nm to our final cache today and the contents of this depot will take us all the way to the South Pole. Just when you are getting used to the lighter pulks…up comes the cache and we load it all up again.

Everyone is good… some minor niggles although Barney is struggling with a painful toe and a little chaffing. Not really much to report aside from the fact that we are looking forward to meeting up with the last degree team in a few days. It will seem really bizarre for there to be other human beings with us. I suppose they will have news and information, there will be noise and smell like we haven’t seen in a while and yes…they will agree there will be “smell”.

It’s been 45 days since a shower and that’s a lot even for me!!. Thankfully we are through the sastrugi. Tough pulling conditions are heavy as the cold temperatures makes the snow more sticky! So off to bed and we will try to make tomorrow a long day and get prepared for our new friends…..

Kyle

 

Day 45

We skied 10nm today in very sticky conditions. When the snow is sticky due to the lower temperatures it makes skiing more difficult as it feel as though your skis are picking up all the snow on the bottom of them. It is a great feeling to know that we are now less than 100nm from the Geographic South Pole and also very exciting is that we are roughly 5 days from meeting the Last Degree Team. We will connect with them closer to the end of this week and then ski the remaining miles together to the Geographic South Pole. It will be odd to have additional people in the Team but so good to hear a few other voices, get news from home and hear some new jokes!!

Temp today was -30°C with the wind-chill factor. We are at 88.24S and the pulks are heavy after resupply but we now have enough supplies to get to all the way to the Pole. Health is good but we have all lost weight and are a little tired. Strange to think of where we are on the globe.

Thinking now about what I will do when I get home, what will I eat and how will I feel when I return to Chile. It has been 50 days now on the ice with just this small army of friends. And although everything is white  and flat it is amazing how many shade of white there actually are in the world. I have learned a lot about weather, clouds, good and bad weather signs and I think how little I contemplate weather at home. There is always a safe haven…under a tree, inside a building. But here we are vulnerable, at the mercy of Mother Nature and she rules supreme. Drop a glove, forget your sunglasses, don’t stay hydrated and she will be brutal. My senses are much more astute in this quiet, lonely wilderness. How can that be?

Already I have a love/hate relationship with Antarctica…but the utmost respect…

Barney

 

DAY 47

Today we got buzzed by the Basler BT-67 aircraft as it flew overhead to drop the Last Degree Team at 89° S. This conversion from the older DC3 model to an updated system, is actually a remanufacturing process. The whole process takes roughly 6 months and requires 35,000 to 45,000 man hours to complete, depending on configuration The Basler BT-67 is a utility aircraft produced by Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It is a remanufactured and modified Douglas DC-3; the modifications designed to significantly extend the DC-3’s serviceable lifetime.

The conversion includes fitting the airframe with new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprop engines, lengthening the fuselage, strengthening the airframe, upgrading the avionics, and making modifications to the wings’ leading edges and wing tips. This aircraft is a workhorse for Antarctica as it is one of very few aircraft that have the ability to attach skis.

Once the Last Degree Team arrive they will start skiing slowly, without us. We will meet up with them in a couple of days, weather and equipment permitting!!

Today we are approximately 15nm from 89°S. All feeling tired but spirits are high. The altitude is now starting to affect us and slowing our travel, thoughts and sleep more each day. In addition to the altitude, the sleds which didn’t feel so heavy a few weeks ago now drag at our every step.

As we get closer to the South Pole thoughts of home ring loud in our minds and hearts. It feels longer than 47 days on this expedition and almost 52 days in Antarctica so far. Lots of great experiences but we are struggling a little now with bumps, bruises and blisters. Every step is harder and there are mornings, I would just like to leave the sled behind…but it holds our world at the moment and we depend on everything it carries to survive.

We travel longer days but the miles are stagnant, we sleep longer hours but the time passes quickly. We are excited for the new faces and sounds… but conscious our habitual days will be changing…..

Barney

 

Day 48

We had a good day today 12.2nm. We are getting closer to the South Pole and to the Last Degree Team, who we should meet up with in the next couple of days.

My feet are still giving me trouble and I hope the LD Team have a few items that will make skiing a little easier for those last few miles. I have my own space again tonight in the Batchelor Pad… I can stretch a little further and work on my feet without disturbing the others. I am sure things will change when we meet up with Dad and the group.

We are completely in our routine now, I can almost do this in my sleep. It reminds me of driving to places and then not thinking about how I got there. That is a good thing as I need a little help for these last miles. The snow conditions have changed drastically and are smooth with little if no sastrugi. It’s amazing as we have been battling for what seems like a long time through the cluster of ice and snow to get here. The weather also is in our favor. A great day with little wind, even if the temperatures are now down to -30° C and will continue to drop as we climb higher and closer to the South Pole.

We have so many stories to tell I can’t wait to reach the Pole and share with everyone…for now though I will eat, work on my feet and sleep…..soundly

Barney

 

Day 49

Every day and every step we are closer to the South Pole. We skied 10.45nm today and are now only 8 nm away from meeting up with the Last Degree Team. We are now really looking forward to seeing them and it should be any day.

We have been fortunate also, with the weather, which has been kind to us the last few days. Temperatures have risen a little, to about -25°C and no wind. This may be the best weather we have seen on the journey so far. Perhaps also, as the sastrugi no longer haunts us, we are basking in this terrain and these improved conditions!

I picked up some other boots today from an airdrop. My feet are a bit of a mess and I can’t wait to see if some of the pain and discomfort will be alleviated by the change of footwear. I think the pair I have been wearing, were a little small and didn’t allow enough movement. It will be amazing if the new boots help.

Today we crossed the 89°S parallel and now only have 60nm until we reach the Geographic Pole. It seems surreal now that we have been on the ice for 55 days and that the Expedition is almost complete. Lots of work still to be done but hopefully we have raised some attention and eyebrows to the cause of utilizing more renewable energy into our daily lives. You will be hearing much more from me about it in the future.

I am now thinking about the next journey – No skiing – in February 2018. Dad and I will join an incredible and diverse group of people as we sail to the Antarctic Peninsula and continue this discussion and mission for changing our lifestyles. Due to the interest and demand, I understand we have opened up a few more places on the ship. So come and join us, join the conversation…. http://www.2041.com/cfa18/

Until tomorrow…. Barney

 

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