Adventurer Yasunaga Ogita reaches South Pole on solo trek

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Hokkaido-based adventurer Yasunaga Ogita reached the South Pole Friday on a solo trek after walking 1,126 km without backup supplies or the use of motorized assistance, becoming the first Japanese to achieve a feat of this kind.

On Saturday morning, supporters and staff were gathered in Tokyo as Ogita sent an image of himself holding a Japanese flag and another photo of a GPS device showing that he was at the South Pole. The group cheered as reporters and TV cameras looked on.

Ogita reached the South Pole at 1:45 p.m. local time after a 50-day journey from Union Glacier Camp on Antarctica’s Ronne ice shelf.

“What I have done is not a big feat. I just kept walking step by step and didn’t give up,” Ogita said by satellite phone later in the day.

Ogita’s journey, however, was far from easy. Starting from a coastal area, his path saw him gradually climb to 2,800 meters above sea level. He also faced a headwind during most of the trek, and temperatures were between minus 9 and minus 23 degrees Celsius. The sled he dragged behind him for the whole journey, which carried food, fuel and other gear, initially weighed about 100 kg.

In addition to Ogita, 25 adventurers have made solo walks to the South Pole without backup supplies, according to Ogita’s staff.

Over the past 18 years, the 40-year-old Ogita has traveled more than 9,000 km within the Arctic Circle. The South Pole trek was his first time to set foot on Antarctica.