Two Australian adventurers have made Antarctic history by becoming the first team to travel unaided to the South Pole and back, surviving three months of “extreme hardship”, they said on Friday. James Castrission, a 29-year-old accountant, and Justin Jones, 28 and a scientist, skied 2,270 kilometres (1,400 miles) to complete the arduous trek, overcoming fatigue, injuries and hallucinations from lack of sleep and food.
“It’s an absolutely fantastic feeling, I can’t describe the elation I am feeling right now,” said Castrission after reaching home base late Thursday. “It has been nearly three months of extreme hardship and at times simply surviving this adventure has been our goal. “It’s great to finish this trek on Australia Day (January 26) too and we can’t wait to step onto the tarmac at Sydney Airport next week.”
The pair reached the Pole on December 31 and en route passed the previous longest polar skiing trip without airdrops or sails. That record was set in 2009 when Norwegian Cecilie Skog and American Ryan Waters covered 1,800 kilometres. Both men beefed up by about 20 kilograms (45 pounds) each in preparation for the gruelling trip, during which they towed 160 kilograms of gear.
They were eating the calorie equivalent of 15 beef burgers a day until bad weather caused delays in reaching the South Pole, forcing them to ration their food supplies. They ended up losing 55 kilograms in weight between them.