Preparations for Trans-Antarctic Crossing Surge Ahead

Ongoing preparation by ITACE members make them ready for Antarctica challenges this October.

Preparations are surging ahead for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Centenary Expedition 2014 (ITACE 2014), which honors the memory of Sir Ernest Shackleton's1914-17 expedition. Using Shackleton's intended route to complete his "unfinished business," a team of five skiers - three men and two women - will cross the frozen continent on a 1,800-mile journey beginning this October.

Shackleton's expedition, which departed London in 1914 on the vessel Endurance, was the first attempt at a crossing. Among the crew was an American named William Bakewell, of Joliet, Ill. Knowing Shackleton would be partial to a subject of the British Empire, Bakewell posed as a Canadian, and joined the ship in Buenos Aires. Before reaching the intended landing spot in Antarctica, Endurance was crushed by the ice and sank, but everyone onboard survived and persevered during a seven-month struggle to reach civilization.

Coincidentally, the newest team member really is Canadian. Pamela Brown was born near Edmonton, and grew up on a farm on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, having spent many hours horseback riding, swimming in the ocean, hiking and exploring. All of these experiences prompted Brown to attend the University of Alberta, and obtain a Bachelor's degree in Environmental and Conservation Science. Afterward, she worked in various remote positions in rugged mountain terrains, collecting biological data for a number of government organizations, and eventually became a Yukon Park Ranger.

Team training continues next month, with a week in the Cairngorms, a mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland. This will include working with crampons (metal plates with spikes, attached to boots), cross country skiing, crevasse rescue, snow shelter construction, whiteout navigation, and cold weather survival. In May, the team plans to ski across Greenland from west to east, on a 30-day unsupported expedition. Leading up to the trans-Antarctic crossing, each team member will also continue individual training programs, such as trail running, biking, weight training, swimming, cross country skiing, in addition to participating in a variety of extreme challenges like the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and the five-day ITERA Expedition Race.

In addition, the number of ITACE supporting partners is growing. These now include Jottnar, makers of technical clothing for mountaineering and winter climbing; Lyon Outdoor, a distributor of climbing, mountaineering, caving and general outdoor equipment throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland; Blue Ice, makers of mountaineering equipment; Terra Nova Equipment is supplying their "bombproof" tents and lightweight Bothy Bags; and Extremities is contributing high performance head, hand and foot protection.

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