This year, we supported Robert as he returned to Antarctica with Gez Draycott, SES Vice President of Solutions Engineering. SES provided Robert and his team with space-based connectivity on the original mission (ClimateForce: Antarctica ’22) and this year we were delighted to sponsor Gez as they both ventured back – this time to the South Pole.
Why did the pair return to the Antarctic?
With SES having managed the communications on the last trip, Robert challenged Gez to travel with him to the South Pole to support his goal of walking across the entire land mass of Antarctica. The purpose of Robert’s goal is to protect Antarctica and raise better awareness of climate change. Gez accepted the mission and said that he hopes to do the same thing amongst his SES family.
Why did Colt sponsor the expedition?
Having had two Colties visit Antartica last year to gain insight into how we can build a strong, sustainable future for us at Colt and for our planet, we were delighted when we were asked to be involved again on the return trip.
We know the IT and telecommunications industries have a big responsibility to help look after our planet, and we’re proud to be one of the companies leading the way, though we know there’s still a long way to go.
It is our mission as a company to help customers create extraordinary connections, and there is no more important connection than the one between us and our planet. Our impact and potential cannot be understated and that’s why sustainability is a key pillar of our strategy as a company.
With a combined total of almost 160 miles, we are pleased to report that the pair began their challenging journey to the South Pole in late December 2022 and returned in January 2023 with all fingers and toes safely intact! Gez walked the last degree in a team of three (60 miles) and Robert walked the full 97 miles with his son Barney and Cameraman Kyle O’Donogue.
(Video featuring polar explorer Robert Swan OBE, his son Barney, and Expedition Guide Rob Smith)
How did the trip go?
Antarctica may look like a breathtakingly beautiful place to visit but conditions on the icy continent aren’t the easiest to cope with. At this time of year, the average temperature is around –27°C!
Back in March 2022, Gez and Robert were based on a vessel, coming back to warmth, showers, and nice food. This time around they were camping on ice and carrying rations. They were walking for many hours at a time, pulling sledges and burning thousands of calories, so the trip certainly was a challenging one.
Regarding the trip, Gez told us,“The 70-mile trek was a tough, tough challenge. The preparation to enter the most hostile environment on the planet had to be thorough and comprehensive. Pulling 50kg sleds for eight days in temperatures down to –32°C required commitment and a plan to replenish the daily 8,000 calories consumed. We skied for an average of 10 hours per day to highlight the fragility of Antarctica and raise awareness for the protection of this continent, twice the size of Australia, for our future generations. Colt and SES supported me throughout the expedition, and knowing I had the backing of both companies spurred me on during the hard hours in the 24hr daylight on the ice.”
Upon their return, Robert visited Colt House to return the flag he took to the Antarctic and meet our CEO Keri Gilder (pictured below) who strongly believes that more serious action is needed on climate change, diversity and inclusion, and data protection in the telecoms industry especially.
Robert was also welcomed by our Head of General Counsel, Caroline Griffin Pain, and reunited with our CSR UK Lead, Sally Lands, for the first time since their trip to the Antarctic in March last year.
We will soon be taking part in one of SES’s Satellite Stories to talk to Gez about his trip and all things sustainability. Stay tuned for more on this soon!
About the 2041 Foundation
The 2041 Foundation was founded by polar explorer and environmentalist Robert Swan, OBE (Order of the British Empire), the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica through the promotion of recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change.