Antarctic Update: Poor Weather Gives Way

I’ve been keeping an eye on our intrepid polar explorers the past few days, with a slew of updates hitting their blogs and expedition sites. It seems poor weather hindered progress yesterday, but the weather improved later on, making way for progress today.

Todd Carmichael sent word back that he woke up yesterday to whiteout conditions and extremely cold temperatures, which made it impossible for him to cover any distance. He later sent in an update saying that the weather had cleared, and that he was eager to hit the trail to day, and put some miles behind him. He even noted that it had warmed up some with the return of the sun.

Mark Langridge had a similar story, as he’s really not all that far from Todd at this point, noting that a blizzard hit his position yesterday, leaving him stranded in the tent as well. An early dispatch this morning however, indicates that conditions have improved for him as well, and that he set out today under gloriously clear skies and a bright sun. Winds are reportedly about 20 mph, and the temperature hovers around -16º C (3º F), which is down right balmy in Antarctica. Mark has already knocked off more than 57 miles over six days, two of which were spent in the tent. Not a bad start!

The Shackleton Centenary Team has also been logging good mileage, racking up another 10 nautical miles (11.5 miles) today, bringing their total to 56.5 miles so far. It’s interesting to read their dispatches, as they are comparing their progress to Shackleton’s himself, who had experienced slower progress at this point, thanks to a large crevasse field. The much better equipped and prepared 2008 team should have no issues beating the 1908 team’s time, barring any unforeseen weather conditions. They are expecting to pick up the pace considerably when they reach the Beardmore Glacier and the Polar Plateau.

A few days back, Armin and Dieter were able to cover more than 80km (50 miles) by using their kites in strong winds. They were expecting to be able to do that for a few days, but the weather has not cooperated, and they’ve gone back to pulling the sleds, still putting up respectable distances. On Monday Armin woke up with a swollen wrist and Dieter had bruised ribs following a crash they had experienced while kiting, so they are a bit bruised and battered at the moment, but still in good spirits, and forging ahead.

American Thomas Davenport, who is part of a group led by Sarah McNair-Landry, that is headed to the South Pole, posted a dispatch from a few days back that talks about the horrible wind and whiteout conditions. He notes that 60-70 mph winds are not great for your tent, and that repegging it at 2 AM is not always fun either.

More to come soon!

Kraig Becker

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