Karrimor SF is delighted to have been asked to be involved with the Coldest Journey. Sir Ranulph Fiennes contacted Karrimor SF at the end of 2011 and asked us to manufacture a bespoke cover for his two man-haul sledge to be used in the testing in northern Sweden in preparation for his trip to Antarctica.
Karrimor had provided the covers with great success in 1993 for the first ever unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent and Karrimor SF is excited to be involved once again.
The Coldest Journey is the first ever attempt to cross the Antarctic continent during the polar winter. Led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’ (Guinness World Records), the expedition will start on 6th December 2012 when expedition members and equipment will depart to Antarctica by ship from the Thames to the Lazarev Sea cost in Antarctica.
The traverse will take place between the two seasonal equinoxes, 21st March – 21st September, with the ice team travelling from Novo to the Ross Sea in the Antarctic winter. During this six month period the expedition team will have travelled 2,000 miles, mostly in complete darkness in temperatures as low as –90°C. Throughout the time on the traverse, the expedition team on the ice and the ship will undertake a number of scientific tasks to provide unique data on glaciology, marine life, oceanography and meteorology.
The ultimate objective is to complete The Coldest Journey while raising USD10 million for Seeing is Believing.
In addition to this the five main goals of this expedition are: 1. First winter crossing
The primary objective of The Coldest Journey is to achieve the first ever winter crossing of the Antarctic. Famously Captain Scott attempted a 60 mile winter journey in 1911, described later as ’the worst journey in the world‘. Led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, this expedition will cover 2,000 miles during the six months from 21 March to 21 September 2013, at temperatures as low as –90°C. With a winter crossing of the Arctic having recently been completed by a Norwegian expedition, this is the last major polar challenge remaining.
The expedition will raise USD10 million for Seeing is Believing: a global initiative to tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries. Eighty per cent of the world’s blindness is avoidable with very cost effective interventions e.g. a sight-restoring cataract operation costs as little as USD 30 and a pair of glasses as little as USD16.. Seeing is Believing is a collaboration between Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). Since its launch in 2003, the programme has reached over 28 million people. Every $ raised is matched by Standard Chartered, doubling the impact on the ground.
As well as conquering this final frontier of polar exploration, the expedition also aims to make a decisive contribution to understanding the effect of climate change upon the poles. CryoSat-2 (an environmental research satellite launched by the European Space Agency in April 2010) is designed to track changes in the mass of the polar ice caps by measuring the distance to the surface of the ice to within ½ inch. Year-round calibration on the ground is the only way to validate this data, so the readings taken by trained members of the Ice Team will form a vital part of this research. This work is one of five international scientific projects which have been selected by the Science Committee including mapping the height of the landmass using new GPS techniques and taking core samples to establish the water flow from the ice sheet. The Ice Team will also be sampling for cryo-bacteria capable of withstanding the extreme cold conditions.
In addition, the expedition will house scientists on board its ice-strengthened Antarctic supply vessel SA Agulhas, a ship supplied by the South African Maritime Safety Authority. The Agulhas’s scientific team will make detailed meteorological and other environmental observations on behalf of a number of research bodies around the world.
The expedition offers a unique opportunity to generate diverse, engaging, real-time educational content for schools. Microsoft is developing a bespoke password-protected platform for this purpose that will be continually updated and managed using cloud technology, and will be accessible to more than 43,000 schools in the UK and over a hundred thousand schools throughout the Commonwealth.
Using its on-board Iridium Open Port system, the SA Agulhas will play a vital role in providing interactive and real-time educational content on the science and Commonwealth activities undertaken by the vessel and its crew throughout the voyages to and from Antarctica. Students will also be able to follow the Ice Team’s progress, take part in competitions, and study fully integrated curriculum modules. These courses are currently being developed by Durham’s Education Development Service – one of the UK’s leading education resource providers – in partnership with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Dr Mike Stroud and the expedition scientists, engineers, mechanics and Anton Bowring, the marine organiser.
The fact that it is only now that this challenge is being attempted is testament to the sophistication of the technology required. Caterpillar’s dealer in the UK and Ireland, Finning is modifying two D6N track-type tractors to tow two specially engineered cabooses. These will house the crew, equipment and fuel for six months in temperatures that can drop as low as –90°C.
For those operating outside the cabooses, the expedition team has developed specialist clothing containing battery-powered heating filaments which will protect the extremities from what will be an ever-present threat of frostbite. Special breathing apparatus has been provided by TopOut Masks to protect the lungs, as prolonged inhalation of air at these temperatures can cause permanent damage. Iridium is supplying satellite communications equipment that will make it possible for the Ice Group to relay back image and video content from a part of the world that is completely inaccessible by aircraft in winter due to the adverse conditions.