Davor Rostuhar is the first Croatian to attempt reaching the South Pole unassisted (without the use of dogs, wind, motor sled or any external energy source), unsupported (without getting food or gear delivered) and solo. He is a photographer, adventurer and writer.
The expedition is 1.200km long from the coast of Antartica to the South Pole and the route is called ‘Hercules’. So far, this route was done by only 23 people in history. Interestingly, there were more people in space than reaching the South Pole unassisted and unsupported like this.
Davor is planning to do it in 50 days and is publishing notes from the expedition here (in Croatian though). He is in his fourth week so far seems to be going strong. His average distance is has been 34k per day, which takes 12 hours of walking time, moving in -12 degrees. In the beginning of the trip, the sleds he is pulling with his support gear weighted 130kg. As he says: ‘I am a recreational athlete. With right training, you can get fit for this activity. The biggest challenge is the mental one.’ In his most recent post, he describes the thrill of seeing Thiel mountain range after 600km and 20 days of walking in the monotonous flat surface.
Polar region facts and figures
As a part of his expedition, he has put together a very holistic and insightful series of educational posts about the Polar part of the world. It is based on his own experiences from living with peoples and reading about the region. Here are a few interesting facts from his writings translated to english:
- Sea or land? Arctic (North Pole) is an ocean surrounded by continents, while Antartica (South pole) is a continent surrounded by seas.
- Home or desert? Antartica is the dryest continent and biggest desert hence populated much less than the Arctic which is home to 4 million people.
- Living in the Arctic? Arctic (North) is primarily habitated by Inuit tribes that live on the coast where in winter they hunt sea mammals and in the summer they move to Tundra (treeless areas with frozen soil).
- Living around Arctic? In wider polar (subarctic) area, there are 3 more groups of peoples: 1) First are the ones who live in the Taiga (forests of the could subarctic regions) and hunt locally. 2) Second are the ones who live nomadically in Taiga and Tundra (treeless areas) and depend on mousse for the source of food. In North America nomadic life and in Eurasia nomadic cattle breeding. 3) The third group live in larger settlements on the Pacific coast and hunt locally
- Eskimo is a USA term for Inuits in America. Inuits in other parts of the Arctic circle prefer being called, well, the Inuits.
- Nenecs are arctic nomads that have domesticated mooses. A herd of 70-100 mouses is sufficient to supply one family with domestic supplies and normally family hers are up to 1700 animals per family.
- Sami (arctic people of Europe) that still live nomadic lives are free to move between borders of Finland, Sweden and Norway. Many are moving to cities to work and dropping their indigenous lifestyle.
- Impact of global warming? Thinner ice makes harder for Inuit to hunt and transport their prey. In other parts, melted permafrost released bacteria of ‘mousse plain’ that killed entire herds of mousses. Overall, the population of indigenous peoples in the Arctic in the world has been falling and there is less ice in the Arctic every year.
- A north lake? The North Pole is actually becoming a lake. See more here.
Davor has been preparing for the expedition in Norway and Greenland and one of the training took place in Croatia. He is now in his fourth week and has done more than half of the way. As Davor noted in one of his talks, his inspiration is Roald Amundsen’s motto: ‘with right physical preparation, you can achieve any goal without too much effort’, echoing Roald’s expedition to the South Pole. He achieved it 1 month before his rival Robert Falcon Scott and has not lost a kilo of weight. In other words, luck favors the prepared. Still, fingers crossed it all goes smooth.