South PoleMateusz Waligóra's hiking expedition to the South Pole. 1250 km in 58 days through the icy desert of Antarctica.
South Pole by foot
Mateusz Waligóra successfully completed an expedition aimed at reaching the Amundsen-Scott research station. The march started in Hercules Inlet on the edge of the glacier and headed south. The route through the ice desert of Antarctica was 1250 km long and it took Mateusz 58 days to cover it.
He has been preparing an expedition to the South Pole for many years. He gained experience in long-distance hiking, e.g. in Greenland and the Gobi Desert. All this to make feel as safe as possible in Antarctica. The expedition was a pretext to talk about mental health crises, as well as to raise issues of climate change, which particularly affect the polar regions.
As the polar explorer said before the expedition: I am not afraid of the cold, although the temperature may drop below -40 degrees Celsius. I'm prepared for that. But there are unpredictable things. The cracks and the wind. I'm going alone, there will be no one to pull me out of such a crack. To minimize the risk of falling into crevices, the South Pole is reached by skiing.
The second threat is the wind. In the Antarctic wilderness it can accelerate to over 150 km/h. Such gusts lower the perceived temperature by several dozen degrees and make walking impossible. Then the only shelter is a tent.
The tent, just like all other necessary things, was dragged by Mateusz Waligóra on "pulki", special sleds. On the day of the start, the expedition weighed 130 kg. There was also food there - mainly freeze-dried products. On the way to the Pole, he had to consume about 5-5.5 kcal every day. As he said before the expedition: „I also take a large supply of cheese, nuts, dried fruit, sweets. And butter. It worked great for my walk through Greenland.„
After covering about 300 km in several days, the polar explorer admitted that it was hard. Antarctica is the driest continent in the world, but so far it has had only one day without snowfall. He said then: „If the weather improves, I will try to speed up and regularly cover about 25 km a day. For now, the snow slows me down, as well as whiteout - white darkness. It's hard to go fast then, to keep the right direction. And even balance.”
As Mateusz said, „The most difficult thing about traversing deserts - whether full of sand or snow - is the intangibility of the goal. Going skiing through Antarctica, when you can't see anything around because of whiteout, your determination must be enormous. You won't see your destination for two months of daily hiking. But it exists. You know about it. You carry it within you.”.
After covering about 1000 kilometers, one of the most difficult sections on the route of the expedition awaited Waligóra - huge fields of zastrug, i.e. drifts of blown and frozen snow. After defeating it, the polar explorer was already moving on a relatively flat terrain, at an altitude of 2700 m above sea level. He said then: „I feel like I'm at 4,500 meters above sea level, I'm out of oxygen. Even though I'm walking flat, I'm having trouble breathing. It's frustrating. The head would like to, but the lungs and legs cannot”.
Mateusz Waligóra is the fourth person from Poland who reached the South Pole in this way - alone and without support. So far, only Marek Kamiński, Małgorzata Wojtaczka and Jacek Libucha have succeeded in this feat.