Latest from Fiennes’ Coldest Journey

Published on 29.01.2013 - The Coldest Journey (Sir Ranulph Fiennes & Team)

Expedition arrived safely at Crown Bay

Expedition arrived safely at Crown Bay

© Expedition website

Fiennes' important expedition is almost ready to start. The ship SA Agulhas with tons of material on board arrived at Crown Bay on 21 January.  On 30 January, they were almost finished with the unloading of all the expedition's material and more than 400 drums of fuel.

Belgian Help

No need to say that Fiennes' winter expedition has been helped by the IPF boys to choose the right place to anchor the ship SA Agulhas and the right slope to climb to the top of the iceshelf.

In fact Alain Hubert and his team arrived not even 24 hours after the ship SA Agulhas had made it to Crown Bay.  "The Belgians have been helping us", Anton Bowring reports on 28 January. "We have established a good rapport with them. They have been helping with the drums and providing transport with their vehicles and sledges. They are living in the smallest tents I have ever seen. They are not small people Kristoff, Walter and David, but, somehow, they manage to fit into their tents. It is deceptive and makes the caboose look like a five-star hotel.  We arranged to get some Coca Cola from the ship's supply for them in exchange for Belgian chocolate. Everyone was happy. ..."

Unloading the all material at Crown Bay took more than a week

Unloading the all material at Crown Bay took more than a week

© Expedition website

Iceshelf broke down

On 30 January, something which could have been dramatic happenned. Brian Newman reports : "... Late afternoon Ian and I went down towards the edge of the ice shelf so that we could get a shoreside perspective and pass the information to the ship. As we approached we had a disorientating moment as all did not look as it had done previously. We stopped a safe distance away and before our eyes a large area of the shelf broke away and tilted on its side before crashing into the sea. It was one of those moments where you just stand and look in awe at the power of what is happening. This was raw nature in action. We weren't in any danger so we just stood and watched.

"As the swell did its work several other large areas of ice slowly peeled away, crumbled and fell into the sea to join the mass of ice already heaving up and down in the swell. It was quite a significant collapse with hundreds of tonnes of ice, each the size of several large houses, falling victim to the sea. It was pure chance that we were there to witness it and it was sobering to realise that the area where we had unloaded the vehicles, the fuel and all the cargo is now floating around in the sea in a thousand pieces, but it has to be said that given the sea's conditions we would have long since retreated out of harm's way. Within five minutes the coastline had been eroded by 50 metres or more and then it all stopped and it was as if nothing had ever happened - but we know the story. When the ship finally returns we will have to make a careful assessment before we can offload those last few remaining items. ..."

On 30 January, they had not yet finished unloading the ship SA Agulhas

On 30 January, they had not yet finished unloading the ship SA Agulhas

© Expedition website

How about this pristine environment ?

An important information : as this expedition is quite an heavy one (traversing the all continent with motor vehicles and sorts of bulldozers), as it will need hundreds of gallons of fuel along the way, it is inevitable that readers are concerned about the environmental impact of a project such as this.

Here is what the official Press Communiqué (published on 25 January) says about it : "... As with all Antarctic operators, we have applied strict disciplines to ensure that there is no pollution. The bulldozers and sledges certainly churn up the surface but not a drop of oil is spilled. In time, after we are gone, the elements will take over, sweep the snow, level the ruts, ridges and even our footprints and return the site to its pristine, natural beauty. Nothing is left behind. To oversee our operations, Environmental Officer, Jo Hardy, is on hand. Apart from being an integral member of the expedition support team, Jo is very experienced in environmental protection techniques and keeps a beady eye on operations. Likewise, the ship has full environmental protection measures in place."


As this expedition is quite an important one, we will follow it more closely than we have done for the other ones. For more information go to the official website of the expedition.

You may also choose to read the list we've made out of the daily updates from Fiennes' expedition.

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Sir Ranulph Fiennes is back in the Antarctic for a world first. He will lead a team of explorers to conquer…

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