Moon, team all geared up for transantarctic journey

Andrew Moon recently got a very
warm send-off from the Cayman Islands Sailing Club — something he’ll no doubt
remember well as he heads to the coldest place in the world.

Mind you, Moon is no stranger to
the Antarctic. He first skied to the South Pole with teammate Andrew Regan in
2004, and the two reunited in 2005 for the record-breaking mechanized Ice
Challenger Expedition, a journey from the coast of Antarctica to the geographic
South Pole, which they completed in 69 hours.

Next month they will lead the Moon
Regan Transantarctic Expedition, an odyssey of 3,600 miles, crossing the
Antarctic via the South Pole using a bio-fuelled ice vehicle described as a
‘microlite on skis’. The vehicle, inspired by Professor Winston Wong, an expedition
sponsor along with his alma mater, the Imperial College London, was developed
by Lotus to traverse the sub-zero terrain at speeds up to 84 miles per hour. It
has a Rotax 914 engine behind three independently suspended skis, topped by a
three-blade variable pitch propeller.

In addition to testing technical
innovations and collecting data for scientific research and outreach education,
Moon says, “There is an adventure element to it. We will be the first to make a
trans-Antarctic expedition,” which is a platform “for a whole lot of science
being done by the Imperial College London.

“It’s been a huge team effort,”
says the intrepid explorer, who lives in South Sound.

And what a team it is, including
legendary climber Vern Tejas, who has summited the highest mountain on each continent
several times and made Denali’s first solo winter ascent, the first solo ascent
of Mt. Vinson and was a lead guide for Col. Norman Vaughn’s ascent of Mt.

During his safe-travels, good-luck
farewell at the sailing club last Friday, Moon was asked the obvious question.
His good-humoured response:

“It seemed like a good idea at the
time a long time ago.”

He and the team will be travelling
on ice about 9,000 feet (3,000 metres) above sea level, with average ice
thickness on the continent of about a mile. The main thing to watch out for?

To prepare for the effects of
extreme cold on the vehicle engines (there are two large van-type support
vehicles), extra parts are being hauled with the team’s top-notch gear.

“We expect temperatures to be
minus-20(F) to minus-30 when we arrive” in the Antarctic summer, Moon says,
adding: “We’re hoping for blue skies and sunshine.”

The team will fly in to the
Antarctic from Chile and several days later meet up on the ice with the rector
of Imperial College, Sir Keith O’Nions, and Winston Wong.

“Then we go through Antarctica,
across a glacier to McMurdo (US base station), and we’ll visit one of Scott’s
huts (famed British polar explorer Capt. Robert) … 100 years ago today (22
October), no one had been to the south Pole.”

The 60-day Moon Reagan
Transantarctic Expedition sets out on Friday, 30 October. 

“Hopefully, there’ll be a legacy
exhibition afterward,” he said.

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