Sam Cox has officially begun his world record-breaking solo unsupported ski crossing of Antarctica.
Sam Cox first stepped onto the ice on Sunday 19th November, after travelling from the UK to South America and then on to the Union Glacier in Antarctica.
Yesterday he crossed the official start line, before skiing 16km towards the pole.
Sam said: “Most of my first day was uphill but the conditions are good with the odd soft patch of snow that stops the pulk dead.
“My plan for the first week, whilst my pulk is at its heaviest, is to ski 10 hours a day or until I make 20km and then I’ll see how I’m getting on.
“Overall, I’m really pleased with the day and hopefully I can keep this pace for the next few weeks, especially when my pulk gets lighter!
“While I’ve been training for this for over two years and know I’ve made all the preparations I can, I’m still attempting something very ambitious so I’m not taking anything for granted.”
The wait for an appropriate weather window meant a 15 day delay in Chile for Sam, giving him just 78 days to complete the crossing.
Sam Cox lives in Devon with his wife Abi, and baby daughter, Nora.
Never attempted before
“Being away from Abi and Nora for so long is going to be tough, especially over Christmas, but they’ve been so supportive, and I hope to make them really proud,” Sam said.
The expedition is expected to take two and a half months, covering over 2,000 kilometres (further than the distance from London to Rome) of unforgiving Antarctic desert and smashing the existing world record by over 500 kilometres.
Sam’s route has never been attempted before and is over 500km further than any solo unsupported Antarctic expedition in history. The current world record holder is Captain Preet Chandhi MBE, who set it earlier this year with a distance of 1485km.
Lamont Kirkland, CEO of sport, challenge and adventure charity, Team Forces, said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to back Sam on this world’s first expedition attempt.
“The sheer amount of preparation and training Sam has done shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s going to be a tough journey, but he’ll be a true pioneer making history on one of Earth’s last great wildernesses. It’s a truly epic expedition.”
Sam will be dragging all the supplies he needs in a specially designed pulk (sledge), including food for the entire 75-day expedition, spare equipment and communications gear. His pulk weighs 165 kilograms (26 stone) – the weight of two average adult men.
The only link Sam will have to the outside world is a beacon plotting his incremental location in case of emergency, and limited communications via satphone.
About the expedition, British adventurer, writer, television presenter and businessman, Bear Grylls OBE, said; “An incredible challenge that sums up the Commando spirit of relentless determination in the face of overwhelming adversity.
“I admire this endeavour so much and it will help and inspire many.”
Austrian Space Agency
Sam Cox will start his expedition at the north coast of Berkner Island and finish at the base of the Reedy glacier on the Ross ice shelf, going via the South Pole.
Sam’s also being supported by fuelling and nutrition brand, Resilient Nutrition. Founder and CEO, Ali Macdonald, said: “The Frozen Dagger expedition is the culmination of over three years of work looking at the science of what happens to the human body and mind in extreme cold weather.
“As a veteran owned organisation, we understand what is takes on an expedition of this scale in such a particularly inhospitable environment. We’ve used the full spectrum of interventions we offer our clients to ensure Sam is fully prepared mentally as well as physically.”
He’ll also be working with the Austrian Space Forum to research the impact of this expedition on the human brain, the psychological impact of this unfamiliar and relentless environment, where each day can be very similar to the last.
Sam said: “The opportunities for scientific research in Antarctica are limited, so this expedition is a chance for me to help with some really rare research.
“I’ll be taking part in studies that have never been done for this long in Antarctica.”
For more information, including the live map of Sam’s location and voice notes from the ice, visit www.frozendagger.co.uk