Courtesy of Antarctica 2023
We had the great pleasure to name one of the explorer's sleds. After brainstorming and our people voting for their favourite, we would like to introduce Bob.
Bob and the Doctors are now back with their families taking a well deserved break after completing their major Antarctic expedition.
Here are the team's official expedition stats:
We are proud to have supported this remarkable expedition that connected with and inspired the community and collected crucial data for climate scientists.
After an epic 1,353 km and 66 days, Bob and the Doctors have reached the South Pole and completed their expedition!
This week has been a big push to the finish. The team put in their longest days (average of 12 hours) and highest kilometres (average of 26 km) per day of the entire expedition.
In the absence of the flat, hard terrain they had hoped for, Bob and the boys battled sastrugi, soft snow, a whiteout and increased drag on their sleds due to the crystal structure of the snow becoming rougher from the frigid temperatures. In spite of that, they crossed 89 degrees South – the last big milestone – and pushed hard to the finish.
We are incredibly proud to have supported a team that embodied the spirit of ‘Reach for Remarkable’. It was a privilege to be on the journey with them.
At the end of the day it was the journey – not the destination – that was most important of all. They set a big goal and worked hard at it, connected with and inspired the community and collected critical data for climate scientists.
Congratulations Dr Gareth, Dr Richard, Bob and the whole of the ANTARCTICA 2023 team on your amazing achievement!
Happy New Year! While we were on break, Bob and the Doctors made slow, steady progress through endless sastrugi and have now completed 1171.17 km and 59 days.
Over the last few weeks, the team faced hundreds of kilometres of sastrugi, some as big as houses. (Reminder: sastrugi is a snow dune.) The team unpacked everything, repacked into a single sled each and nested it into their empty sleds to make the traverse easier. The unforgiving weather, including soft snow, a few whiteouts and whipping wind, as well as no breaks between sastrugi, made for slow, jerky progress.
Though they have faced tough conditions, the holiday period wasn’t without celebration. For Christmas, Bob and the explorers enjoyed 60 ml dram of whiskey (to share), 120 g Christmas pudding with freeze dried vanilla ice cream, a surprise blow up Christmas tree they found included in their kit and phone calls with family. For New Years Day, they had a dram of single malt scotch, an after eight mint each and some chocolate pudding. Delicious!
Now within 200 km of the South Pole, the temperatures are noticeably colder. On Tuesday night, Gareth found his face mask had frozen solid to his beard and had to hold his face over the stove for 10 minutes before he could take it off.
The team has also made the tough decision to finish their expedition at the South Pole. Bob and the Doctors have given their expedition everything they’ve got and are proud of what they’ve done. We look forward to cheering them to the finish line!
Bob and the Doctors have faced hills, soft snow and equipment challenges this week. Despite that, they’ve ticked over an impressive 723.6 km and 37 days complete.
The team finished the Sallee and Median Snowfields and are crossing the Iroquois plateau. They've slid through soft and sugary waves of deep snow. At one point during an uphill climb, there was an ice cliff to the East and crevasses to the West.
Conditions aside, the other challenge Bob and the Doctors encountered this week was with their equipment. Luckily, they’ve been able to work their way around the issues. We mentioned in our previous update that Rich broke his spoon again, so here’s what else happened:
The team’s power banks for charging their electrical equipment stopped working. However, with a bit more faff and planning, they can charge direct from their solar panels.
Due to the deep, soft snow, Dr Richard snapped a ski binding. Thankfully they have a spare set.
Though we all are winding down for the year, Bob and the Doctors will keep on trekking. From here, the team will cross the Antarctic plateau that will lead them straight to the South Pole after Christmas.
Bob and the Doctors have covered a lot of uphill ground this week! They have reached 584.49 km and 30 days complete.
They fully crossed the Ronne-Filchner ice shelf onto the Ford Ice Piermont and reached the Wujek Ridge. While camped at its base, they looked out the tent at a blue wall of ice and snow and studied maps and old photos in preparation for their climb.
Bob and the Doctors’ ascent was hard but rewarding. Basically, their climb was up a really steep snow slope with crevasses on one side and towering cliffs on the other. To make it to the top, they alternated between skis and crampons with only one sled each in tow while the others were tethered at the bottom. Once they reached the top, Bob waited (holding onto a snow stake) with the other sled, then the boys went back down to get the other two and do it all over.
After the challenging climb, the team left Wujeck Ridge and faced another uphill battle through deep sticky snow on the Sallee Snowfield. They are now en route to Antarctic plateau.
P.S. Rich broke his spoon again and has fixed it using their spare section of tent pole. He now has a foot-long spoon! Hopefully the tent won’t require fixing!
Bob and the Doctors are 445.26 km and 23 days in. The team hit an exciting milestone this week: they completed their traverse of Berkner Island, descended onto and are now skiing across the Ronne-Filchner ice shelf.
The warmer weather, which hit -8 degrees Celsius multiple times, meant the Doctors stripped off their arctic-rated jackets and skied in their inner layers. The downside was the snow became soft, making it harder to pull their sleds – like pulling a bathtub through wet cement. Sastrugi, or snow dunes, didn’t make it easier either. They fought hard for their kilometres!
The team had two other highlights this week. They spoke to another Antarctic scenic flight while it was mid-air – this one originating from Sydney. And though it seems trivial, the other was that Dr Richard broke his spoon. As an explorer you only get one, and it is essentially a lifeline (and prevents epic mess when enjoying pudding). Thankfully, he managed to fix it with a hand drill and some superglue. Good save, Doc!
Bob, Gareth and Richard have completed 295 km and 16 days of their journey for the planet. In contrast to last week, it’s been blue skies, hard packed snow and a lot of small victories.
Bob and the Doctors crossed over 80 degrees South this week and are edging closer to the Ronne Ice Shelf. The team celebrated with chocolate pudding in their little red tent that is their home and oasis over the next two months.
In other highlights this week, the team:
spotted a snow petrel, one of three birds seen at the geographic South Pole
took a snow bath at -10 degrees to ward off the stink of hard days of skiing
spoke via Satellite Phone to the crew and passengers who were mid-flight on the world’s first ever scenic flight to Antarctica.
Scientific measurements continue with the automated devices plus the boys are taking spot measurements of other data like wind speed, direction, humidity and dew point. This important data will help scientists recalibrate and refine their climate models.
Bob completed his first week of the ANTARCTICA 2023 expedition. Drs Gareth and Richard (and Bob) have surpassed the 100 km mark and are now 140.45 km and 9 days into their journey. Though the weather has been mixed and the terrain trying at times, they are in a good rhythm.
Bob and the explorers hit their first 20 km day on the skis, saw a parhelion ice crystal phenomena - or sun dog - discovered audiobooks pass the time well, enjoyed a call with their families and savoured Snickers and a hot cuppa soup.
The explorers dedicated their first week of the expedition to us and we're honoured. We are proud to support their journey for the planet.
The ANTARCTICA 2023 expedition is underway and the 2,023 km trek for the planet has begun! The team landed at Union Glacier, then flew 2.5 hours to Gould Bay Emperor Penguin colony camp to drop supplies and travelled on to Berkner Island on Monday. On Tuesday, they began their crossing!
As there is 24 hours of sunlight in Antarctica during summer, the explorers have chosen to operate on Chilean time (AEDT-14) to be aligned with their logistics team. For us in Australia, that makes it easy to check their progress as their day of skiing ends as ours begins!
As of this morning (AEDT), Bob has completed 2 full days of the crossing and a total of 22 km with the explorers. Scientific measurements have also begun! It's been a strong start and all is going well.
The Last Great First team's expedition spirit and goals align with our values and our pursuit of remarkable experiences – what we call Reach for Remarkable – for our people, clients and communities. Supporting this initiative is important to us for a few reasons:
Climate change has become the most pressing and important issue for most Australians and the world – as well as our people. The expedition is a chance to support and drive positive climate action for future generations.
The Last Great First team's explorers, Drs Gareth and Richard, are determined to inspire people of all ages to reach for their personal and community aspirations. As former Scouts themselves, they are collaborating with over 50 million Scouts worldwide to empower young people, their leaders, families and supporters.
This aligns with our commitment to support organisations focused on the development of our younger generation. We encourage our people to pursue the greater good for the communities in which we live and operate, whether that is local community issues happening right now or a global focus with an eye to the future.
Though it is a well-used phrase, it is a true one – our people are our most important asset. Our brand promise, Reach for Remarkable, means we are committed to providing a remarkable experience for our people and push them to be the best they can be for themselves, their teams, their clients and communities. Supporting the Last Great First team gives us a chance for our people to be involved in an initiative that drives climate change, supports the community and inspires them to reach their goals.
Dr Gareth Andrews was born on the Isle of Mull during one of the coldest Scottish Winters on record – a year when the sea outside our home in Bunessan froze solid. His mum jokes that it was a sign of things to come. When he’s not working in the hospital, he loves to spend my time exploring Sydney’s beaches and bushland with his young family.
Dr Richard Stephenson grew up in Yorkshire but moved to New Zealand 10 years ago to make his home amongst the wild mountains and forests of the beautiful country.
For more information about the expedition and the team, visit ANTARCTICA 2023.