Antarctic Update: Winds Hinder Progress

There were a number of updates from Antarctic over the weekend, with teams out of Patriot Hills reporting incredibly bad winds, while others forge ahead.

We’ll start with Todd Carmichael and his Expedition Earth project. Todd is making a solo, unsupported attempt on the speed record to the South Pole, but unfortunately this weekend didn’t help his efforts much. On Saturday he reported daunting winds of 40-50 knots (46-57 mph) blowing directly in his face all day. Despite the winds, he managed to log 9 miles and clear the long, uphill pull that had been making his first few days rough. Unfortunately, the winds continued yesterday, and his home team reports that Todd elected to settle in, and stay put, until after they died down some. This day off allowed him to make repairs to a binding on his boot that had been troubling him since his departure, and with good weather reported ahead, he hopes to make great time in the next few days.

Mark Langridge reported a similar story over the weekend, as he two emerged from the crevasse field that has been challenging the teams thus far. He reports that it was more than a 1000 meters up those first three days, which doesn’t sound incredibly challenging until you consider that these guys are pulling a couple of hundred pounds of gear behind them on a sled. Through snow and ice no less. It gets better from here though, as the rest of the trip to the pole is a mere 2000 meters of vertical gain spread out over 500 miles. On Sunday, the harsh winds made for tough going, but he did brave the conditions and managed to notch an impressive 8.5 miles while the other teams mostly stood still. Now that he’s topped the ridge, Mark expect to be moving about 10 hours a day as he makes his own bid on the coveted speed record.

Yesterday was Day 11 for Dieter and Armin, heading out from Neumayer Station. Of all the teams, they were probably the most likely to be happy to see the winds, as that meant they could break out the kites, allowing them to cover 80 km (50 miles) in just one day. They do note that it’s the most challenging kiting they’ve done, and that it was still an exhausting day dealing with the conditions. They are hoping for another similar day today.

The Shackleton Centenary Team are now four days out from the Shackleton Hut and making good progress as well. They logged nearly ten miles yesterday, giving them over 35 mile total so far, and moving them off the Ross Ice Shelf and onto the continent proper, which brought deeper snows and a strong headwind. So far though, they’re happy with their progress as the follow in the footsteps of greatness.

I haven’t seen any updates yet from today, but the word was that better weather was expect and that teams would once again be on the move. I’m sure we’ll hear more as their day comes to an end, and they camp for the night and send dispatches home.

Kraig Becker

Comments are closed.