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On Friday November 23rd, Polar Adventurer Eric Larsen will set out on his “Last South” expedition in Antarctica, in what he hopes will be a history making trip. Larsen is attempting to set a new speed record for the solo, unsupported ski trek to the South Pole, a 700-mile journey starting at Hercules Inlet, the edge of the Antarctic Continent, and finishing at the Geographic South Pole. The current speed record of 24 days was set by Norwegian Christian Eide in 2011.
Skiing solo and receiving no outside support or assistance along the way, Larsen will pull roughly 135-pounds of food, fuel, and equipment for the entire journey in a lightweight kevlar sled. To successfully beat Eide’s seven-year record, Larsen plans to ski 12-16 hours per day and complete the trip in 22 days.
Larsen hopes that his adventure will highlight the increasingly bleak outlook for the polar ice caps due to climate change. He is partnering with Protect Our Winters, a non-profit climate advocacy group whose mission is to unite and actively engage the global snow sports community to lead the fight against climate change, in order to provide both insights and solutions.
“Unfortunately, my expeditions are no longer about being first, but rather being last, and I truly believe that time is running out for these types of adventures,” Larsen commented. “I have a unique perspective on global warming and have seen its effects first-hand.
An accomplished polar adventurer and mountaineer, Larsen has completed more North and South Pole expeditions than any other American. In 2010, he became the first (and only) person in history to successfully complete expeditions to the South Pole, North Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest in a continuous 365-day period. In 2014, Larsen completed what will most likely be the last ever fully human-powered North Pole expedition. While he has led several expeditions to the South Pole, this is his first attempt at the unsupported speed record.
For his “Last South” expedition, Eric will rely on customized gear and equipment as well as a rigorous travel schedule with precise timing as he traverses some of the most extreme and inhospitable conditions on the planet. Larsen is excited to partner with Citizen Watch to maintain peak efficiency, relying on the Promaster Altichron to adhere to his tight expedition schedule.
“My Citizen watch is one of my most critical pieces of gear as everything I do is focused on time,” Larsen stated. “And because the Promaster Altichron is super durable, reliable, and powered solely by sunlight, I never have to worry about it failing.”
Completing an expedition like this is the result of a combination of knowledge, training, and self discipline. Larsen is drawing from his 20-year polar career to refine his equipment, travel strategy, and an 8,000 calories per day expedition diet. To that end, Larsen will be using a custom-designed solo polar tent by Mountain Safety Research and the industry award-winning Polar Ranger sleeping bag that Larsen developed in conjunction with Therm-a-Rest.
Larsen’s overarching mission is to connect with people in real-time during his adventures, allowing anyone to follow his progress with live GPS tracking via Garmin’s inReach Explorer+ Satellite Communicator. “Last South” daily audio podcasts, blog posts, social media content, and photos will be available on Larsen’s website. Eric will be self-filming the entire journey and plans to produce a documentary that features both his adventure and relationship with his family. He also hopes to release a book about the expedition as well.
Antarctica is the fifth biggest continent and contains ten percent of the earth’s land area yet only two percent of its land is not covered by ice. It is home to the world’s most extreme: the lowest ever recorded temperature; the windiest place on earth; and the driest place on earth. At the South Pole in Antarctic summer temperatures range from -20F to -40F (-29C to -40C) with wind chill down to -50F (-50C).
The Last South expedition is sponsored by Citizen Watch with major support from Garmin. Additional expedition support is provided by Seirus, Mountain Safety Research, Therm-a-Rest, Granite Gear, Nite Ize, Stanley, Helly Hansen, Zeal Optics, Madshus, Wigwam, Oberto, Clif Bar, Iridium, Cosmik, WebExpeditions, and SMAK Strategies.