Image: British and Canadian explorers
AFP - Getty Images
A team of British and Canadian explorers and one guide sit in front of a bust of Vladimir Lenin erected by the Soviets at the Pole of Inaccessibility — the center of the Antartic continent. The team used kite skiing and man hauling to be the first expedition to reach the pole by non mechanical means.
updated 1/22/2007 12:41:15 PM ET 2007-01-22T17:41:15

A team of British and Canadian explorers endured seven weeks of howling winds and subzero temperatures to become the first expedition to reach the geographic center of Antarctica without any mechanical assistance.

Dragging 264-pound sleds, the team traveled about 1,091 miles on foot and by kite ski to reach Antarctica's Pole of Inaccessibility — the furthest point from any ocean — on Friday, according to a statement posted on the expedition's Web site.

Located more than 12,221 feet above sea level, the Pole of Inaccessibility was first visited in 1958 by Soviet explorers who reached the remote outpost in a convoy of snow vehicles.

The team, led by Canadian Paul Landry, said it was surprised to find a bust of Vladimir Lenin erected by the Soviets nearly half a century ago still standing amid the ice.

"We noticed a black dot on the horizon — as we got closer an outline of bust started to appear — we could not believe it," the team said in a brief statement posted Friday. "We are all so exhausted that we have only just put up the tent with Lenin's stern gaze over us!"

The team, called N2i, also includes Britons Rupert Longsdon, Rory Sweet and Henry Cookson.

The three Britons won the 2005 Polar Challenge, a competitive 350-mile race to the North Pole, with no Arctic experience. They then hired Landry, a veteran polar explorer who has led numerous Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, to guide them to the Pole of Inaccessibility.

The group departed from the Russian scientific base Novolazarevskaya, located on the Antarctic coast north-northwest of the Pole of Inaccessibility. They will now fly to another Russian base, Vostok, before traveling on to Cape Town, South Africa.

The Pole of Inaccessibility lies some 540 miles northeast of the South Pole, the Earth's southernmost point.

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