Kites to power Belgian Antarctic record attempt

Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:37am EDT
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By Robert-Jan Bartunek

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Two Belgian explorers will attempt to set a world record for the longest ever polar expedition without the outside support or motorized aid, traveling over 6,000 km (3,728 miles) in 100 days across Antarctica.

Veteran adventurer Dixie Dansercoer, who crossed the southern continent in 1997, and 26-year-old Sam Deltour aim to take advantage of the specific wind patterns around the continent to cover large distances using kites to help sail their heavy sleds across the ice and snow.

This will allow them to travel up to 300 km in a day and an average of 60 km, to break the current world record of Norwegian Rune Gjeldnes who trekked 4,800 kilometers in 90 days five years ago.

"It would be impossible if we had to pull the sleds all by ourselves," Dansercoer, who will start his expedition on Nov 4, explained at a news conference on Tuesday.

Their route will take them in a loop from the Russian Novolazarevskaya research station to the South Pole before returning across yet unchartered territory between the Vostok research station and the Shackleton ice shelf.

The pair will each have a sled initially weighing 190 kg (420 pounds), which will contain food supplies, tents, kites and scientific equipment.

During their trip they will measure wind patterns and supply information about the quality of the ice they encounter to scientists studying climate change back in Belgium.

As they will have no new supplies from outside, the largest part of their luggage consists of frozen food rations to provide each of them with the crucial 5,000 calories needed each day to undertake such a physically challenging trip.   Continued...

<p>Belgian explorers Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour (L) pose after presenting their plan to break the world record for the longest autonomous and non-motorised polar expedition at a news conference in Brussels October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir</p>