Doctor battles 150kph winds on polar continent

A FORMER Guernsey rugby player is currently part of an epic attempt to ski over 2,000km across Antarctica.

Dr Gareth Andrews and his brother-in-law Dr Richard Stephenson plan to be the first men to ski across Antarctica without a support crew.

The two men set out in early November pulling 160kg sleds with all the supplies they needed for a two-and-a-half-month trek across the polar continent via the South Pole.

Dr Andrews now lives in Australia but his father has been following his son’s progress from his home in Guernsey.

Dr Whitford Andrews, a retired GP, was Guernsey Rugby’s doctor for 15 years.

‘I was very worried indeed when they started off. But they appear to be comfortable and strong and gaining distance every day. It’s getting less anxiety provoking. I’m very, very proud.’

Dr Andrews Sr has been able to keep check on the expedition’s progress and even hear updates from his son and son-in-law through the expedition's state-of-the-art website that includes a live tracker.

‘The first thing I do every morning is check the blog. They have done over 400km so far. It’s another 900km to the pole. Then 650km to the Ronne Ice Shelf.’

‘They have had pretty good weather so far apart from two days which were white-outs, where they couldn’t see anything, not the sun or the horizon, and had to use compasses. They still managed to do about 20km in these conditions.’

The two men are skiing for up to nine hours, and burning 7,000 calories a day.

As it is the Antarctic summer they are in constant daylight but still subject to harsh conditions with winds gusting up to 150kph, and an average temperature of -25C.

Andrews and Stephenson Antarctica 2023 Expedition route map (31527474)

The two men hope to inspire future generations to preserve Antarctica and are collecting crucial climate data as they make their way slowly across the continent.

The expedition was originally planned for 2021 but as medical men they found themselves working on the Covid frontlines.

Dr Andrews Sr thinks this may have worked to their advantage.

‘Covid has interfered with their plans for the last two years. They had to sit tight. It was a good thing in a way as they had more time to train and prepare. They are hardy guys who have been doing work in the Arctic for 10 years. I have no doubt they will make it.’

  • Follow the Andrews and Stephenson Antarctica 2023 Expedition progress at www.antarctica2023.com.au/

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