Norwegian Gjeldnes complete’s world’s longest ski trek{mosimage}OSLO, Norway – Norwegian adventurer Rune Gjeldnes completed a 93-day solo, unsupported trek across Antarctica on Friday, laying claim to two polar skiing records.

The 4,804-kilometer (2,985-mile) trek makes the 34-year-old Gjeldnes the first person to cross both the Arctic and the Antarctic with no outside help, and qualifies as the world’s longest ski trip, his team said.

He faced extreme cold, treacherous crevasses, icy winds and day after day of monotonous white, with mainly his digital audio player loaded with 500 songs, including Frank Sinatra’s ”My Way,” as company.

”I finally made it,” he told his team by satellite telephone on Friday. ”This is big after such a long expedition. The uncertainty and the anxiety and the fear of failure are over.”

The former Royal Norwegian Navy commando’s previous records include skiing unsupported over the polar ice cap from Russia to Canada with a teammate in 2000, and skiing the length of Greenland in 1996.

He set off from Queen Mauds Land on the edge of the Antarctic on Nov. 4, reached the South Pole on Dec. 20 and continued on to Victoria Land on the opposite side of the ice continent.
Another Norwegian, Borge Ousland, was the first to ski across Antarctica alone and unaided, although he picked a shorter route of 2,845 kilometers (1,767 miles) in 1997.

Like Ousland, Gjeldnes made the entire trek with no outside help or resupply, or assistance from snowmobiles or dogsleds.

He had to drag everything needed on a sled that started off weighing 170 kilograms (375 pounds). It was uphill for the first 300 kilometers (185 miles) over ice-falls that can reach an altitude of 3,300 meters (10,800 feet).

Temperatures can fall to minus-60 Celsius (minus-75 Fahrenheit).
On the 10th day of the venture, he and his sled nearly vanished into a deep crevasse.

”I looked around and the sled was in a crack, the same crevasse I went into,” he said at the time. ”That was a shock. It was barely hanging on.”

On parts of the trek, Gjeldnes could use a giant kite to sail on the snow on a special pair of skis, with his regular cross-country skis strapped to the sled.

On Jan. 20, one of his cross-country skis vanished from the sled when he needed it to descend steep glaciers to his goal.

”I did a pretty powerful war dance around the sled,” he said last month.
He completed the trek with one-cross country ski and one kiting ski, setting what his team claims as the world distance record on skis, beating the 3,800-kilometer (2,361-mile) trek across Antarctica in 2000 by Norwegians Erik Soenneland and Rolf Bae.

Gjeldnes is waiting at Italian research base Terra Nova for a ship expected to arrive on Feb. 24.

Norwegians have a strong tradition of setting polar records, starting with Roald Amundsen’s conquest of the South Pole in 1911, when he beat Robert Scott of Britain in a race to be first. Scott and his team died on their way out.

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