American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Antarctica, Antarctica Traverse by Messner and Fuchs, 1989-1990

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

Antarctica Traverse by Messner and Fuchs, 1989-1990. From November 13, 1989 to February 12, 1990, Reinhold Messner and German Arved Fuchs crossed Antarctica entirely on their own power except for two supply depots. Fuchs is the only person to have gone on foot to both Poles in the same year. He traveled to the North Pole in April of 1989. The pair left the Ronne Ice Shelf and got to their first supply depot in the Thiel Mountains 23 days later. They arrived at the American Amundsen-Scott Base at the South Pole on the last day of the year. They had their other supply depot there. They set out for McMurdo Sound on January 3, dragging on their sleds 45 days of food. They descended the Mills Glacier and found two difficult icefalls at its junction with the Beardmore Glacier. Finally, after 92 days, the pair reached Scott Base near McMurdo. (Herr Messner was kind enough to send us a report from which we quote an excerpt. — Editor.) “Each of us pulled his own sled, loaded with from 120 to 50 kilos. Each kept his own pace. Each carried out certain duties. Arved Fuchs navigated. I kept ahead following his compass directions. We were the smallest possible group and the rules of living together were dictated by the tiny size of the tent and nature. Also the length of the crossing: from the edge of the Weddell Sea to Scott Base it was 2580 air kilometers, but we traveled 2800 kilometers because we had to traverse 1000 kilometers of sastrugi fields and 200 kilometers of heavily crevassed glaciers and icefalls, which put all Himalayan ice formations in the shade. The sleds behind us and the skis under us, mixed with our breathing and pulses, were the only sounds. Else all was silence. What silence! At first this depressed me. I was not accustomed to such silence. But then it became peace, a peace from my very soul.”

Reinhold Messner, South Tirol

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