Brit explorer Chris Brown got stuck in Antarctica for a month facing winds of up to 120mph winds and life-threatening -28C temperatures.
The 62-year-old was with his son Mika, 28, on an expedition to visit the Southern Pole ofInaccessibility – one of the remotest places on the planet.
But then their Twin Otter plane blew a generator relay as the worst storms for 17 years swept in.
A string of failed missions to deliver the necessary replacement parts and a no-fly zone imposed so Elon Musk’s rocket could re-enter the atmosphere, left them stranded on the barren wasteland for four weeks.
The vicious winds and bitterly cold temperatures meant the explorers were forced to huddle together to keep warm in between digging the communal food tent and other people’s tents out of the deep snow.
Chris, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire said: “We landed at Wolf’s Fang as the weather was due to come in two days.
“We went off to view a colony of Emperor Penguins near Atka Bay but the plane developed a fault on the way back, which we didn’t know then but it turned out to be fatal for the expedition.
“There are numerous relays on the Twin Otter, which is normally a very robust vehicle.
“But two of them blew on the way back.
“The plane was able to get back to Wolf’s Fang that day but would require replacement relays to fly after that.
“And then the biggest storm came in.
“The base winds measured 90mph with gusts up to 120mph, which is Hurricane Force on the Beaufort scale.
“We all had to get into one central tent together because that one had the best integrity and also so everyone was together.
“Everyone buddied up.
“You didn’t go anywhere, even to the loo, without your shadow so that nobody would be unaccounted for.
“The guides stuck out poles before the storm hit so you could find your way to the generators, and the food.
“The poles were two metres apart and roped together so you could follow the ropes when visibility dropped below two metres.
“It was a complete ‘white out’ and if you went outside you’d be swept off your feet.
“The snow got into the plane’s engine which made it even worse.
“They couldn’t fly without these relays so they had to get replacement parts.”
Trying to source the relays and have them delivered to the South Pole proved nigh-on impossible, especially amid the horrific weather conditions.
Dad-of-two Chris said: “It took three or four days for them to find out there were no relays in Cape Town.
“They looked elsewhere but couldn’t find any.
“Another five days went by.
“They also tried Canada which is where the Twin Otter is based.
“What should’ve happened is a guy gets hold of some relays and flies to South Africa with them, and puts them on a plane to where we were.
“But they didn’t do that.
“They tried a courier and the last we saw of that set was their arrival in Istanbul.
“Another five, six, or seven days went by.
“Then we were told the next plane was bringing them, but no relays arrived on that plane either, or the following one.”
In the camp, frustration began to grow, along with a sense of resignation.
Then another couple of storms hit, delaying any further flights.
Finally, news arrived that the relays were definitely on the next plane – but again it wasn’t to be.
Chris said: “It was a beautiful day and we thought we were saved, then as the plane was coming in some fog came down.
“The pilot had to be able to see two miles to land, but clearly he couldn’t anymore.
“He tried to land three times, but fuel concerns caused them to turn back before the visibility returned.
“Which, of course, happened within 20 minutes of them turning back.”
Chris and Mika’s hopes of being able to continue the expedition were shattered again days later when the next flight came into land and then just banked and went up into the air again.
Chris, who posts his adventures on TikTok @chrisbrownexplores said: “We couldn’t believe it.
“We could see everyone walking away from it back towards us, we were thinking what’s going on?
“It had a sensor showing an error and they were 90 percent sure it was an error with the sensor, but you can’t land in Antarctica with any sort of problem like that.
“You simply can’t take the risk, because if you do land and the warning turns out to be real, the plane isn’t returning to Cape Town and everyone would be stranded.
“We were all broken then.
“Everyone in the camp was broken, at that point, we had run out of fresh food, and heating elements were starting to fail.
“At this point, we decided to abort the expedition.
“But of course, we couldn’t escape Antarctica.
“If no planes could get in, none were going out.
“Then a fourth storm hit, it was pretty bad.
“The wind speeds weren’t as bad as the first storm at ‘just’ 60-70mph with gusts of 100mph, but it lasted much longer – about five or six days in total – and it was snowing heavily.
“It shouldn’t snow in Antarctica as it’s a desert.
“The only people who were happy were two French researchers whose climate change model had predicted more snow storms.
“Those guys were going ‘We got it right, we got it right!!’
“The company that had been operating the trips down there has been in operation for 17 years and they said that was the worst weather they had ever experienced in that time.”
As Chris and Mika had catastrophised weeks before, it turned out the pair were still stranded on Chris’ birthday.
But as a birthday present, the weather Gods finally allowed a plane to land and they were able to escape the White Desert.
Not the type to ‘give up’, the father and son explorer duo were able to return to Antarctica in January 2023 and successfully reached the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility on January 11th, 2023.
Poles of inaccessibility have been defined by the geographic community for many years.
It is the point furthest from the coast/sea in any direction.
Chris’s self-set task is to be the first person ever to visit all of the continental PIAs.
This is similar to the Seven Summits where mountaineers try to climb the highest mountain in each continent.
The PIAs are North and South America, Africa, Australasia, Antarctica, Eurasia (Europe and Asia being one land mass), and the Northern Arctic pole.
There is also Point Nemo, which is the point furthest from land in any direction, in the Pacific Ocean.
Chris has visited five of the PIAs, the most of any explorer.
Two other people have been to three and several have been to two of them.
Chris hit the headlines around the world in June this year (2023) when it emerged he pulled out of atrip to the wreck of the Titanic on the doomed Titan submersible amid safety concerns.