Børge Ousland and Prince Albert reach the South Pole

Published 15.01 in category South Pole 2009

From left: Mike Horn, Clemènce, Prince Albert, Nicholas and Børge Ousland.

Monday evening at 21.00 Monaco Time (and Norwegian Time), Prince Albert of Monaco and Børge Ousland arrived at the globe’s southernmost point. During the day, wearing facial masks to protect against temperatures that dropped to –30˚C, they pulled pulks filled with gear; during two nights they camped in tents. Impressions include hearty oatmeal breakfasts, spectacular sunlight phenomena seen nowhere else in the world, and vast stretches of snow and ice on the Antarctic Plateau. The trip was successful, and the men on the team satisfied – but not all went according to plan.

On 8 January, Prince Albert and Børge Ousland flew from Punta Arenas, Chile, and arrived at Patriot Hills, an Antarctic base situated at 80˚18’S, 81˚21’W. Here they spent a couple of days testing their skis and other equipment, before flying further south to meet up with Mike Horn, an explorer who in 2006 completed the first successful winter expedition to the North Pole with Børge. Now they had royal company on a new expedition.

“It was joy to meet up with Mike Horn again. He had already spent 48 days on a solo expedition to the South Pole – and we were joining him for the last leg. Before starting out, we had a great reunion dinner, featuring Swiss fondue,” Børge Ousland tells us, giving his report by satellite phone.

On 11 January our eight-man team started out, heading due south, with each expedition member pulling a pulk while skiing. The thermometer showed thirty below, and the air was thin. The Antarctic Plateau lies at almost 3000 metres above sea level.

“It was a raw and chilling experience in exotic surroundings, probably far removed from anything Prince Albert had experienced earlier.”

“The Prince was delighted at the Antarctic landscape and glowed with adventure. I think it is well done of him to seek out the challenge of Antarctic explorers, feeling the trials of history’s great explorers on his own body. He proved himself a full member of our expedition team – pulling the pulk himself, and giving a hand when we pitched camp in the evening. He even seemed to savour our traditional Norwegian breakfast: a huge helping of oatmeal,” says Børge with a grin in his voice.

A tight Royal schedule
In addition to his role as guide, provider of equipment, and the man responsible for everyone’s safety, Børge Ousland had to ensure that Prince Albert reached the South Pole on time.

“The Prince is on a tight schedule, so he had to be at the South Pole by 21.00 on Tuesday, 13 January. It turned out that presented quite a challenge! We started out a bit too far north; an aeroplane flew us closer, with Mike leaving his pulk behind.

“After a hectic finish, we arrived at the South Pole with ten minutes to spare! The weather was excellent this last day, with low clouds. We also witnessed a great ring around the sun, a phenomenon only seen near the globe’s geographic poles,” explains Børge Ousland.

“Prince Albert now continues his journey, visiting the research bases on Antarctica. Mike, Clemènce, Nicholas and I are flying back to where Mike left his pulk, to complete “the last degree” on foot. We cannot have anybody saying that Mike Horn completed his expedition airborne!”

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