British explorer Henry Worsley starts unassisted Antarctic solo crossing

UPDATE 25 Jan, 2016: Henry Worsley died of a serious infection (bacterial peritonitis) on day 71 of his trek. He had completed 913 miles.

British explorer Henry Worsley has started his grueling unsupported and unassisted 1,100 mile (1,770 km) solo crossing of the Antarctic landmass, a feat no other human has attempted before. Unassisted and unsupported means no help from canine or human companions, food drops, vehicles, or even a kite to help him along.

On this epic journey, from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf, crossing through the South Pole along the way, Mr. Worsley will make the first solo descent of the Shackleton Glacier.

Hauling the equipment, fuel and food he requires for this punishing test of endurance, he aims to complete the journey in eighty days.

Henry Worsley tries crossing AntarcticHenry Worsley will attempt to complete the 1,100 mile journey in 80 days. (Image: shackletonsolo.org)

Mr. Worsley’s voice can be heard, sounding tired after spending the whole day out in the snow. On his satellite phone, he said:

“We are under way at last. The surface is kind – soft in places, but firm enough not to be totally demoralising. My sledge is about 150 kilograms in weight and I have to heave her over lumps and bumps.”



His voice then brightens slightly, when he says:

“Lots of familiar noises returned as I set off – the squeak of the ski poles driving into the snow, the thud of the sledge over each bump and the swish of the skis gliding along … and then when you stop, the unbelievable silence.”

On the webiste shackletonsolo.org, you can read Mr. Worsley’s mission statement:

“In this centenary year, to commemorate Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1915 intent to complete the first crossing of the Antarctic Continent, I will attempt the first ever solo crossing of the Antarctic landmass, unsupported and unassisted.”

Henry WorsleyPolar explorer Henry Worsley has set off in an attempt to become the first human to cross Antarctica unaided. (Image: Twitter)

About Henry Worsley

Henry Worsley has recently completed a 36-year career in the British army. Since childhood, he says he has pursued a passionate interest in the lives of the intrepid Antarctic explorers of the Edwardian age – Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton.

Of the three explorers, the life and expeditions of Sir Ernest Shackleton have interested Mr. Worsley particularly, inspiring his first Antarctic adventure.

Mr. Worsley led an expedition in 2008/09 to commemorate Shackleton’s 1907/09 ‘Nimrod’ centenary. Shackleton pioneered a route along the Transantarctic Mountains through the Beardmore Glacier to a point 97 miles from the South Pole.

Ernest ShackletonSir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922) was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was one of the main figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. (Image: biography.com)

Descendants of the original party took part in the centenary journey, which retraced the original route, arriving at Shackleton’s Furthest South exactly 100 years later, before completing the journey to the South Pole.

To commemorate the centenary of Roald Amundsen’s and Captain Scott’s expeditions, Mr. Worsley returned to the icy continent in 2011/12, and led a team of six soldiers in a race along the 1912 routes to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Mr. Worsley led the Amundsen route from the Bay of Whales all the way to the South Pole, a 900-mile unsupported journey. He became the only human to have completed the two classic routes of Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton to the South Pole.

He is the author of In Shackleton’s Footsteps, an account of this 2008/09 expedition, and regularly lectures on the leadership style of famous polar explorers.

His equipment includes:

An Iridium 9575 satellite telephone, an Iridium Shout Nano (a personal location beacon that reports where he is every hour), ALFA Extreme North Pole GTX boots, Fuzion Food sachets (10 meals per day), a Black Diamond Spade, Palamo Salopettes (special trousers), Ski Trab World Cup Skis, Tent Booties, a hat, a sledging flag (with the Worsley family crest), Bridgedale Summit Socks, Icebreaker Merino Leggings, Outdoor Research Gorilla mask, Waxed Wool WW1 Trench Balaclava, Bryne String Vest, Kestrel Weather Station (provides weather forecasts), Germin Geko GPS, Pogies (protect hands from Antarctic winds), Black Diamond Mitten, Light Gloves, Yellow Black Gloves, MSR XGK Stove, 5l Kettle, HET Power 50 12V Battery and 20W Solar Panel, Magnetic Compass and Cradle, Grivel G10 Crampons, Hilleberg Namatj 2 Tent (his home for 80 days).

Video – Shackleton solo, daily routine

Henry Worsley reveals everything you would ever want to know about the daily routine of a polar explorer.

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