The grandson of Shackleton drove a car across Antarctica

The grandson of Shackleton drove a car across Antarctica – words Alan Woods

Trying to drive a car across the snowy wastes of Antarctica might seem a slightly outrageous idea but it was actually tried first by Ernest Shackleton himself.

He fitted skis to an open topped car in 1907 and used non freeze oil. I don’t think it was a roaring success but he was a trier was Ernest.

 

Now the great grandson of Shackleton – Patrick Bergel – has taken up the mantel and gone that one step further. Over a century later he has become the first person to cross the coldest & driest continent on earth by car. Even though he is a descendent of the great Shackleton who admits to being no explorer having little adventuring experience before this. He is actually a media entrepreneur more used to navigating the streets of London. Despite that he truly put himself on the line to literally drive across Antarctica.

He drove a specially adapted Hyundai Santa Fe with added balloon tyres and a big fuel tank. Quite a sight and quite a feat. The 30-day expedition proved challenging to put it mildly. He drove the entire continent from traversed the continent from Union Camp through to the heart of the antarctic and then to McMurdo and back again. He proved himself to be every bit the grandson of Shackleton.


Not only did they have to contend with temperatures down to minus 28 degrees Celsius but also plot paths through floating ice caps that have never been crossed before.

Bergel, himself admitted: “I’m not a polar explorer; I’m an indoor guy. So it was a big cultural shift – and it was quite something to have been the first to do this.

“Getting to the South Pole was a special moment. The fact that this was a place my great grandfather tried to get to more than once and I was there, it felt like a genuine connection.

“What we did though was one thousandth as hard as what they did. You know, no comparison – modern appurtenances, comparative luxury. But it was an amazing journey, and an amazing achievement.”

One of Antarctica’s most experienced driving experts, Gisli Jónsson from Arctic Trucks was tasked with managing the vehicle’s preparation before the event and then led the expedition out in the Antarctic.

Jónsson explained: “People who have a lot of experience of Antarctica know what it does to machinery: basically, anything and everything falls apart,” said expedition leader Jónsson. “Even the big machines crack up and break apart.

“This was the first time this full traverse has ever been attempted, let alone doing it there and back. A lot of people thought we would never ever make it and when we returned they couldn’t believe we’d actually done it!”

The grandson of Shackleton drove a car across Antarctica – words Alan Woods

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