Henry Worsley: Antarctica Solo, Unsupported
Dec 6, 2015 at 11:56 pm #3369085Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Companion forum thread to: Henry Worsley: Antarctica Solo, Unsupported
Henry Worsley is attempting what could be the first solo, unsupported, and unassisted foot-crossing of Antarctica.Dec 7, 2015 at 2:55 am #3369089Jim ColtenBPL Member
Worsley? Why does that name ring a bell? Oh yeah, one Frank Arthur Worsley was captain of Shackelton’s Endurance, as well as skippering their (approximately) 700 mile lifeboat trip from Elephant Island to South Georgia Island to fetch help.
Coincidence?Dec 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm #3369219
MSR XG-K stove – probably running on kero. Yeah, it weighs a ton, and kero stinks, but it WORKS. You could also use it to hammer in tent stakes. I used something similar for years. (Thinks: in his shoes, I might take two.)
Hilleberg Nammatj 2 Tent – a 2-pole tunnel for Antarctica?! This is either a testament to Hilleberg tents, a roll of the dice by Worsley, or both!
Well, the alternative is a 20 kg Antarctic pyramid (made here in Oz), but they can be hard for one man to pitch in bad weather, and their bulk is enormous. Anything else would be a low-probablity gamble, very likely to lead to death. There are NO American tents able to handle these conditions.
Me, I would probably have gone for a Macpac Olympus for a commercial design as it is a shade better, but the Hilleberg tunnels come close.
A bit lighter than Fiennes’ load, and far more realistic imho. 143 kg for 81 days. Ordinary food allowance for walking or skiing is ~750 g/day: allow an extra 300g per day of fats (for the cold) to make 1.05 kg/day. Ordinary kero allowance in the snow may be ~80 g/day with snow melting; allow 50% more or 120 g/day. Food and fuel comes to ~101 kg for the 81 days. That leaves 42 kg for gear and pulk and skis. OK, that would leave a bit of space for some extra food & fuel.
Personally, i think we could happily accept him into the BPL class for light-weight walking and touring.
CheersDec 14, 2015 at 4:09 am #3370409ThatCatChatBPL Member
In one of his daily reports, he says in effect that Frank Worsley is not directly related, but that they spring from the same tree / extended family, and would be, at best, distant cousins. But he likes to think he’s inherited the same genes. His daily audio reports are well worth listening to.Dec 17, 2015 at 2:20 am #3370892
“…probably have gone for a Macpac Olympus for a commercial design as it is a shade better, but the Hilleberg tunnels come close.”
Can you explain in what respect an Olympus is a shade better than a Hilleberg Roger? (I assume you mean over and above the cheaper price)
Not challenging – just curious.Dec 17, 2015 at 3:46 am #3370894
I owned a Macpac Olymus for many years, and I gave a Hilleberg an extensive review. For lots of details, see our extended review of tunnel tents at
Part of the reason is that the mountains of New Zealand can have some of the most appalling weather in the world. It comes up from the Antarctic and slams into their main divide. It can be brutal.
CheersDec 17, 2015 at 6:48 pm #3371004
I should provide more context. I’ve owned an Olympus for about 15 years . I’ve also lived, tramped and climbed in the South Island, as well as bush walked a bit in South west Tas (western Arthurs etc) with the Olympus. While I currently live in Wellington I’d say I’m quite familiar with the sort of storms these places can produce.
I also read your tunnel tent articles. I take it the articles were not meant to be in depth. But my sense is that while the Olympus is pretty burly, the hilleberg nammatj is a step above: slightly thicker poles, stronger fabric, better quality craftsmanship overall. Also, the Olympus has a high point in the middle which means that: condensation builds up in the middle (unless there is a good breeze) to flush it out, and the entry dimensions are cramped.
Finally, I note that the Nammatj has been a proven polar performer, but I know of nobody who has used an Olympus for a polar expedition of this scale.
eg Felicity Aston used a Nammatj GT successfully to cross antarctica solo:
Noting all this, I still try to keep an open mind. Given your experience in using and making tunnel tents, why do you favour the Olympus?Dec 17, 2015 at 11:21 pm #3371050
I am not convinced that the Olympus poles need to be stronger, or the fabric thicker. What matters, imho, is the design. The Olympus has a seriously cat-cut design which means the tent is really stable, and the general tunnel design sheds the wind very well. As i said, we have lived in an Olympus in blizzard conditions for many years, and never felt that it was threatened.
The Olympus I had was sewn in New Zealand, and I would not fault the manufacture. Current units are sewn in Vietnam (I think?), but their quality seems fine to me.
Yes, the Olympus has a high point in the middle. Frankly, I never found that to be an issue. If the air was still we got condensation even in the vestibule; if there was a breeze we could adjust the ventilation at the windward end so the tent stayed dry inside. That worked even with very mild breezes. I don’t think we ever saw condensation forming only in the middle section.
Why would favour the Olympus? mainly because the cat-cut in the panels seems to lock the poles into place slightly better. The middle poles on the Hillebergs were not as constrained as on the Olympus, imho. However, My 4-pole winter tunnel does not have a huge amount of cat cut, and it has taken what Huey can throw it happily.
Bottom line: both brands/models are very good in bad weather, far better than other designs like pop-ups.
CheersDec 19, 2015 at 5:41 am #3371236
Thanks Roger. Interesting perspective.Dec 28, 2015 at 6:31 pm #3372890Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
If Worsley’s pull (sledge) hitch is merely straps and no X’d poles he will pay hell on downslopes.
I’d never, ever travel with a pulk with merely straps to pull it. That’s just asking for trouble.
Too bad Worsley’s videos show nothing but his talking head. A video of his gear would have been very interesting but hopefully not alarming. Ski skins? Snowshoes? pulley(s) for dragging pulk or himself out of a crevasse? Clothing? Sleep system?
Is there somewhere a video if his gear? A list?Jan 25, 2016 at 7:03 am #3377850ThatCatChatBPL Member
I’m distressed to learn of Henry Worsley’s death in his Antartic crossing.
RIP.Jan 25, 2016 at 9:06 am #3377871Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
.Jan 25, 2016 at 9:30 am #3377880matthew kModerator
Oh dear. That is sad new to hear, particularly so close to the end.Feb 19, 2016 at 2:58 pm #3383164Rodney AckermanBPL Member
@uncleairLocale: Great Lakes
I had been following Henry daily during his trip which unfortunately ended in his untimely passing. It’s interesting to me how I’ve reacted to his death. I’m not normally inclined to prolonged sadness. However, Henry’s passing has affected me in such a way. I’m not sure why and am still contemplating why that might be. Maybe because of his person (seemed to be a genuinely good chap) and how close he was to the end. I guess I’ll just have to let time deal with it.
On a somewhat related note, I’ve been trying to find a detailed list of his kit. I have seen some smatterings of it on the website (sledge, solar panels, clothes, food, etc.) while following his journey. But I can’t find a detailed list. It seems to me that a list like his would be helpful.
Anyone out there seen it? I’m especially wondering about his sleep system.
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