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Reel Rock’s “Mission Antarctica” (Part 1)

Three adventurers attempt to kite ski across Antarctica to make a first ascent on one of the most remote 2000m peaks in the world.


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Equipped with 65 days of food, a GPS, and a whole lot of wind, three adventurers led by British climber Leo Houlding attempt to kite ski (imagine kite surfing on a glacier) across Antarctica, where they hope to make the first ascent of a new route up the south face of The Spectre, one of the most remote 2,000-meter peaks in the world.

Each day, the team navigates the logistics of setting up and breaking down camp, packing their sleds, and launching kites in the howling wind. On good days, the team sails over beautiful and barren glaciers. “Wind is the be-all and end-all on this trip,” Houlding says. On bad days, when there is no wind and the team can’t travel by kite, their 440-pound sleds become liabilities. The team is forced to wait until conditions improve or lug the sleds by their own power. But moving more slowly in the crevasse fields can be disastrous. “We’ve skied over about 200 [crevasses] in the last 10 kilometers,” Houlding says at one point. Traveling so fast on the kite, “you’re probably less likely to fall into a crevasse… but, if you do, you’re dead.”