LONDON (Reuters) - British tech entrepreneur Patrick Bergel has become the first man to drive a car across the Antarctic, completing the feat 100 years after his great grandfather, explorer Ernest Shackleton, failed to cross the icy continent on foot.
Bergel encountered minus 28-degrees Celsius (minus 18F) temperatures during his 30-day trip across the 5,800km (3,600 miles) stretch in a five-door car fitted with extra large wheels and snow track grips.
The 46-year-old’s modified 2.2 litre diesel car was engraved with the names of the crew members who accompanied his great grandfather Shackleton on his failed bid to cross the Antarctic a century ago.
“I like to think, he’d be proud and pleased that a member of his family had finally pulled off something that he’d tried to do,” Bergel told Reuters in London.
“But ... what we’d done was maybe a thousandth as hard as it had been back in 1916-17.”
Shackleton’s bid to become the first man to cross the continent had ended when his boat sank in ice, with the explorer and his crew sailing hundreds of miles to safety on lifeboats.
Bergel said they had used GPS and meetings with Antarctic experts in a bid to avoid floating ice caps and a similar fate on his December trip, which started at Union Glacier and went past the South Pole, Leverett Glacier and the Trans-Antarctic Mountains.
“I‘m not a polar explorer by trade, it’s not my day job by any means, so this was something quite new for me,” Bergel said.
“There were a few little bumps on the way but fortunately no deaths.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Toby Chopra