A few months ago, the German extreme athlete Martin Szwed supposedly wrote Polar history for his solo march to the South Pole thereby setting a new world record. However, an apparent picture of proof turned out to be a fake and further doubts arose when looking closer into the matter. Did an extraordinary achievement turn into an extraordinary lie?
Martin Szwed is a known German athlete and mountaineer. One of his greatest dreams had been a solo journey by foot to the South Pole after having climbed the highest peak in Antarctica, Mount Vinson. To achieve this feat, he trained hard, searched for sponsors and made his plans public with the press. Then, in January 2015, news came in that his plans had become reality and he had reached the South Pole in a new record time: 14 days, 18 hours, 43 minutes covering 1’282 kilometers over the Antarctic Plateau, which is more than 3,000 meter above sea level with equipment and sledge. The previous record holder, the Norwegian Christian Eide, took 24 days 1 hour 13 minutes to cover 1’150 kilometers. With such a discrepancy, doubts arose quickly in various circles, but real proof never showed up. A selfie picture by Martin Szwed showing him at the South Pole turned out to be a manipulated fake. In addition, according to testimonies from various partners, which were mentioned by Szwed himself helping him to achieve this feat, it seems as if he had never reached the South Pole… at all.
Reconstructing Szwed’s steps of his expedition show many discrepancies and open questions. Fact is that Martin Szwed had joined a mountaineering expedition trip to Union Glacier and Mount Vinson and had flown in on December 30 with a handful of other participants. He climbed Mount Vinson on January 5 and flew back to Punta Arenas on January 9 together with the rest of the team. Afterwards he returned to Germany with the entire team and landed in Frankfurt on January 14. Interestingly, in a blog on January 13 he was cited: “End of Day 13 – getting ready for the night” and showing him in a tent. Still, on January 16, he met with a reporter of a German local newspaper for a report and Szwed gave him a USB-stick with pictures. One day later, on January 17 he texted a former mountaineering companion on Facebook stating that he had arrived in Cape Town and would continue his journey to Antarctica on the same day. To complete the confusion, in a blog by Martin he wrote on January 9, when he was actually flying back with the mountaineers, the following entry: “More than half way to the South Pole. I’m sure I’ll break the record ;)” Additionally, this entry was already drafted on January 8. The blog was published on a sponsor’s website and written by a contact of Szwed. Both of them have severed all ties to Szwed by now. Another aspect on how Martin Szwed seemingly broke all physical laws of space and time is shown by his appearance in Helsinki on February 2 personally to accept a certificate for his feat in the Antarctic.
The only company offering flights from Cape Town to the Antarctic also has no documents at all about Martin Szwed and journey. At Amundsen-Scott Station right at the South Pole, no entries were made and nobody actually saw the arrival or the departure of any German expedition. At the bottom line, nobody but Martin Szwed can unravel this mystery, but he remains silent, feels misjudged and continues to claim having been at the South Pole. How he actually managed to do that with these facts is not clear. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind…
Source: Jörg Römer, Spiegel ONLINE