Aussie adventurer completes longest-ever unaided journey across Antarctica

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-07 13:12:46|Editor: ZX
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SYDNEY, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- An Australian adventurer has broken the record for the longest unaided journey across Antarctica, travelling a 5,306 km by kite-powered sled in a harrowing 58-day expedition.

Beating out the previous record by 206 km, Dr Geoff Wilson said the last 14 km of the trip on the road to Russia's Novolazarevskaya Station (Novo) were "hairy."

"As soon as I passed the small mountain I could see the dots of Novo some 500 feet (152 meters) lower in altitude below me," he posted to his blog The Longest Journey on Tuesday.

"The waves of relief were hard to describe, emotionally and physically I was done in after pushing for 24 hours straight now to cover the final 153 km from Thorshammer to Novo. I could see no more obstacles bar the mad wind, 30 knots and rising."

Switching to a six-meter storm sail to adjust to the dangerous conditions, the 49-year-old veterinarian said the kite was still "totally overpowered."

"When I hit the blue ice runway it was almost impossible to steer there was no grip for the skis. I managed the mad descent, then kited straight into the heart of the sleeping base and dropped the kite, 4:10 a.m. (local time Saturday)."

"I was thrilled to be alive, overjoyed to be done and waves of relief washed over me as I stood almost stunned in a colorful isolated Russian outpost, the wind screaming through it."

Speaking to his family immediately after finishing the odyssey, Wilson said the sound of their voices brought him to tears.

"As I collapsed in cabin D on a bed beautifully made for me, I realized our real achievement has been in showing what a family can achieve when they dream big, plan well, back each other wholeheartedly, never take 'No' for an answer and love with an openness and passion that refuses to ever give up," he said.

Preparing for the exhibition on Australia's Gold Coast -- a place known for its sun, sand and surf -- Wilson trained by kiting on the beach and using commercial freezers to acclimatize to the frosty temperatures he would encounter.

No stranger to breaking records, on a previous expedition Wilson completed the fastest crossing of Antarctica in just 53 days.

Elsewhere, the Aussie also smashed the record for the fastest crossing of Greenland in a total of 18 days and became the first person to make a six-week, wind-assisted journey across the Sahara Desert.

As well as now holding the record for the longest journey across Antarctica, Wilson also became the first human to scale the highest point on the Antarctic plateau without assistance -- Dome Argus.

Standing 4,093 meters above sea level, the dome is thought to be the coldest place on earth, with temperatures hitting approximately 100 degrees Celsius below freezing.