A near-standard 2.2-litre diesel Hyundai Santa Fe has become the first passenger vehicle to be driven across the continent of Antarctica from Union Camp to McMurdo and back again.
The SUV was driven by Patrick Bergel, the great-grandson of legendary polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The expedition saw Patrick and a small team take on almost 5,800km of icy terrain in bitter conditions – finishing the journey Shackleton never completed.
They not only had to cover extreme distances at temperatures down to minus 28-degrees Celsius, but also had to plot new paths on floating ice caps that have never been travelled by wheeled vehicle before.
Bergel, a technology entrepreneur, admitted: “I’m not a polar explorer; I’m an indoor guy. So it was a big cultural shift – and it was quite something to have been the first to do this.”
The team travelled from Union Glacier to the South Pole then followed the Leverett Glacier and the Trans-Antarctic Mountains, past smoking Mount Erebus volcano, to the Ross Ice Shelf and McMurdo.
“Some sections were unbelievably beautiful and only a few dozen people actually get to see the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. That was the point at which nobody in a wheeled vehicle had been beyond,” Bergel added.
“My great-grandfather was the first to climb Erebus and I’d seen pictures of it as a child. It is quite spectacular, with plumes of smoke coming out, and it was pretty special to be driving and see it come out of the cloud.”