Kazakhstan team plans to drive to the South Pole
A team of Kazakh adventurers is planning to drive to the South Pole exactly 100 years after Norwegian Roald Amundsen beat Britain's Robert Falcon Scott in an epic race to the bottom of the world.
While it took Amundsen and Scott weeks to reach the South Pole using skis and dogs, the six-man Kazakhstan team will use three modified Toyota off-road cars and the latest satellite navigation equipment to complete the 1,434 mile journey across crevice fields and mountain ranges in 10 days.
“I can’t say it is going to be very, very hard but nobody knows. The weather could turn, we could break down,” Nurlan Abduov, the leader of the expedition, told the Daily Telegraph at a press launch at the futuristic concert hall in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital.
The expedition is being paid by the Kazakh Geographic Society, of which Mr Abduov is the founder and chairman, and despite his words of caution it appears confident enough of success to post a countdown on its website of the number of days left before the team reaches the South Pole.
At a test drive last year, a Kazakh team driving two Toyota cars set a world record for the fastest time to the South Pole, making the journey in five days.
The Guinness Book of Records judged the average speed to be 13.3 miles per hour beating a previous record of 10.8 miles per hour set by a British team in 2005.
This time the six-man Kazakh expedition plans to set off on Dec 3 and to arrive at the South Pole on Dec 13, the day before the 100th anniversary of Amundsen’s arrival. On Dec 16 Kazakhstan also celebrates 20 years of independence from the Soviet Union.
“It’s really a coincidence,” said Mr Abduov, who is a well-known businessman.
“We want to stay two or three days and on Dec 16 we want to plant a Kazakh flag and plan a Kazakh day at the South Pole.”
Amundsen and his team became the first people to reach the South Pole on Dec 14 1911. They returned safely and were hailed heroes.
Scott, a Royal Navy officer, arrived with his four companions almost five weeks after his great rival.
Unlike Amundsen they had not used dogs to pull their sledges, instead relying on their own strength.
Dejected at having been beaten to the South Pole and already physically exhausted they died when bad weather slowed their return journey.
The Kazakh expedition is one of several to mark the centenary of the first successful South Pole journey. A British team plans to retrace Scott’s tracks.
Mr Abduov paid tribute to Amundsen and Scott.
“Now we’re going with full equipment and in cars,” he said. “It’s difficult to imagine them doing it 100 years ago on skis without modern equipment, without modern clothes. They are really amazing.”
Along the way, the Kazakh team also plan to collect rock and snow samples for research on how the Antarctic’s climate has changed over the last 100 years.
Originally published by The Telegraph