Phase 1: Transfer to Antarctica
SA Agulhas set sail from London on 6th December carrying expedition members and equipment to Antarctica. Expedition members and equipment will travel from Cape Town to Antarctica by ship, departing 7th January. The ship will tie up alongside the ice edge at Crown Bay (70°04’17″S -23°01’01″E), Queen Maud Land in Eastern Antarctica.
Phase 2: Static in the Sør Rondane area
A base camp will be established inland from Crown Bay at around S70,71398 E23,60958. Prior to the start of the traverse, equipment will be tested and checked and scientific work will be undertaken. A fuel depot will be placed above the initial steeper crevassed glacier section of the route at S72.72517 E24.15302. A further fuel depot may be laid further south at around 75S.
Phase 3: Traverse from the coast to Geographic South Pole
Distance: Approx. 2,223km
Duration: Approx. 84 days (63 days skiing; 21 days rest/contingency)
Scheduled departure date is 21 March, 2013. The traverse will travel from the coast via the depot(s) and will regain the traverse route used by Extreme World Races (EWR)/Arctic Trucks, who have driven this several times using modified Toyota Trucks. Progress will depend on the terrain, but the expedition will aim to travel an average of 35km per eight-hour-day throughout the traverse. The Ice Team will continue along the EWR/Arctic Truck route to the Geographic South Pole, an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA) managed by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The expedition will approach and depart the South Pole in accordance with the ASMA instructions to avoid hazards and interference with station operations.
Phase 4: Traverse from Geographic South Pole to the Ross Sea
Distance: Approx. 1,600km
Duration: Approx. 61 days (46 days skiing; 15 days rest/contingency)
From the South Pole the expedition will follow the US Antarctic Programme (USAP) South Pole traverse route: travelling across the polar plateau and descending via the Leverett Glacier (85.63°S; 147.58°E) onto the Ross Ice Shelf and then via McMurdo Ice Shelf to the coast near to Ross Island. This is a well-tested route with known dangers. Crevasses at the shear zones at Leverett Glacier and Ross/McMurdo Ice Shelf are filled at the beginning of each summer and the route marked to facilitate the USAP South Pole Traverse.
Phase 5: Static McMurdo Ice Shelf
The expedition will proceed to the NGO base camp at McMurdo Sound (77.9°S; 166.7°E). Anticipated arrival will be around 21st September 2013, six months after setting off from Crown Bay.
Phase 6: Uplift
The team and all equipment will be uplifted from McMurdo Sound by the expedition ship in early February.