Watch Leo Houlding “Get Spanked” in Antarctic Offwidth

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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Photo: Reel Rock

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Reel Rock’s Mission Antarctica is available to all Outside+ members, part of an extensive library of climbing and adventure sport films found in the Outside App. Watch the full film, or download the app here.

Part Two of Reel Rock’s Mission Antarctica follows Leo Houlding, Jean Burgun, and Mark Sedon on their kite-skiing voyage across Antarctica to attempt a new route on The Spectre, a proud granite peak at the bottom of the world. 

After 16 harsh days (and a near-death experience), the team makes camp at the base of The Spectre, where, upon inspection, they quickly realize that their intended route up the south face will be more difficult than anticipated. Fearing weather changes and low on time for such a big-wall climb, the team shifts their objective to the north face of The Spectre. 

“It’s still a technical objective,” Houlding says, “just far less committing.” 

The north side of The Spectre was eyed before, by Mugs Stump and his brother Ed in the early 1980s. They were in the Transantarctic Mountains for a scientific expedition. On a day off from their work and with a minimal rack, the brothers made the FA up the northern route. 

There is a bit of relief among Houlding and the team as they opt to follow the Stump route. But as they climb—encountering off-widths in their crampons—the team starts to think this “easy” alternative objective might not be so easy. 

“We generally continue to get spanked,” Houlding says. 

Meanwhile, Leo Houlding, Jean Burgun, and Mark Sedon have been away from their homes and families for weeks, and Christmas is just around the corner. They begin to question their decision to undertake such a dangerous expedition. Even if they do repeat the Stump route, there’s still the descent to think of, and then the return journey: 1600 kilometers of unsupported kite skiing with 440-pound sleds tied to their backs. 

Will the wind aid them? Or will this expedition stay gnarly at every turn?

See what happens to Houlding and his team in Part Two of Mission Antarctica.

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