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Man to try longest Antarctic crossing

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-22 03:16
Wen Xu announces his exploration plan at a news conference on Oct 21. [Photo/Agencies]

A young Chinese scientific explorer will attempt to make the longest unaided solo trek across Antarctica after departing Beijing on Wednesday.

Covering about 2,000 kilometers, the solo trek across the continent is expected to take 80 to 85 days. If successful, Wen Xu, 32, will be the first person to cross Antarctica alone from the shore of Berkner Island, according to the event organizer.

In December of 2018, 33-year-old United States explorer Colin O'Brady became the first to cross Antarctica alone and unassisted. It took him 53 days to cover about 1,500 km.

Wen told reporters on Monday that he plans to fly from Beijing and transfer at Punta Arenas, Chile. Starting at Berkner Island in Antarctica, he plans to cross the South Pole and finally reach the Ross Ice Shelf.

He plans to make the trek on cross-country skis, dragging a 200 kilogram sled equipped with food, fuel, extra skis and communication equipment. Airplanes will be available to provide emergency assistance.

During the trek, Wen said he will collect scientific samples for research, and more importantly, help people realize the impact of global warming.

"Climate change remains a huge challenge for humans. By conquering the difficulties of solo crossing the Antarctica, I hope the public will pay attention to, and act on, the global warming issue," said Wen, also the founder of Polar Hub.

Wen says Polar Hub is a group of professionals in China who combine scientific research with polar adventures.

Several companies — Toread, GalaxySpace and China Electronics Technology Group Corp — will support Wen's Antarctic adventure by providing outdoor clothing, satellite communication and a source of electricity.

Wen said he had thoroughly prepared for the trip, including a long-distance trip in the Tibet autonomous region this year. In September of last year, he also completed an unsupported Arctic trek across Greenland.

"The Arctic adventure should have been done with teamwork, but my instructors tried to cultivate my solo ability along the way," he said.

As a member of China's mountaineering team, Wen has also ascended Qomolangma, also known as Everest, in 2007, 2012 and 2018 for scientific research.

A documentary will be done to record this trek. But it will be different from others, according to Rao Zijun, director of the documentary.

"The shooting team will follow Wen from Beijing to the starting point in Antarctica and wait for him at the end point," Zhao said. "He will have to carry a camera and record the lonely journey by himself."

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