The first Namibians at the South Pole

Paul and Henri van Schalkwyk

THE FIRST NAMIBIANS AT SOUTH POLE

 

A Namibian father and son became the first Namibians to set foot at the South Pole.

 

Mr. Paul van Schalkwyk and his son Henri, became the first Namibians this week to set foot at the South Pole after an overland expedition of approximately 2,000 kilometers over the frozen Antarctic continent.

 

The father and son duo is part of a film crew covering the historic Scott – Amundsen Centenary Extreme Race to the South Pole.  Mr. van Schalkwyk is the founder and chairman of One Africa Television (PTY)Ltd and a multi-award winning photographer and cinematographer.  His son Henri , also an enthusiastic photographer, is a post-graduate student in Management Accounting at the University of Stellenbosch.

 

The van Schalkwyks were invited by Urban Brew Film Studios in South Africa to join a film crew contracted to produce a series of documentary films about the Centenary Race.

 

“This is a great privilege and the fulfillment of a dream. This is a unique adventure and we have experienced Antarctica in its many moods. Some of the conditions were much worse than what we could have imagined and it is something we will never forget,” said Mr. van Schalkwyk.

 

“It is just as amazing as our desert. The big difference is the temperature here is minus thirty while at home it is plus thirty,” Henri said.

 

The event was won by a record breaking Norwegian team who beat the rest of the field with a huge lead of an estimated six days.  The rest of the field still has to arrive at the finishing line. The film crew is following the progress of the athletes to the finish.

 

Sixteen athletes in seven teams participated in the race to ski a distance of nearly 750 km over the Antarctic continent to the South Pole. The race formed part of the centenary celebrations of the discovery of the South Pole a hundred years ago by Norwegian Roald Amundsen with the Britain Robert Scott short on his heels. Amundsen made it safely back while Scott and four of his team died when they were caught in a blizzard for many days before they could reach safety.

 

The cut-off date for the race is 28 January and the film and support crew will return overland to the Novo base. With winter fast approaching, extreme temperatures of up to minus 50 degrees are expected, as the sun will dip behind the horizon for the first time in three months. All participants and crew will leave on the last flight from Antarctica on the 9 of February.

 

The Centenary Race to the South Pole can be followed on www.coldsweat.tv