Antarctic Update: It’s 87º For Todd!

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As the weekend approaches the Polar Explorers are on the march, ticking off the miles, and closing in on their milestones.

Todd Carmichael had another big day on the ice, which seems to be the norm for him now, knocking off another 18.5 nautical miles and passing the 87th degree. He reports that he encountered the worst sastrugi so far today, and that made for tough sledding (Ha!) most of the day. He has also altered his course some to avoid a major crevasse field that lies just ahead, and keeping him on track to challenge that speed record to the Pole. Today marks Todd’s 30th day out from Patriot Hills, and he now believes he’ll reach the Pole on the 21st of December. That’s just nine days away, and will have him flirting with Hannah’s record. Should be interesting!

The Shackleton Centenary Team took in a couple of extra hours of rest today, as they tend to do every Friday, but still managed to cover 13.5 nm. They are now within sight of the Beardmore Glacier, or would be if the weather cooperated. At the moment they can’t see to the horizon, but they’re hopeful that that will change tomorrow and they’ll see their next big milestone. They’re on pace to depart the Ross Ice Shelf on Monday and pass by Mount Hope in the process, which will put them on solid ground at long last.

Visibility isn’t much better for the South Pole Quest Team today, as the whiteout conditions gave them no landmarks to navigate by. Instead, they had to resort to the old reliable compass to find their way. (Word of advice guys, just keep heading South!) They also report tough going physically as well, with the day-to-day grind of polar exploration starting to take it’s toll.

The latest update from the South Pole 2008 Team updates their progress as well. They’ve been heading in a more south-westerly direction of late to avoid the crevasse fields themselves, but have once again turned due south and are making good time. The note that the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful in it’s starkness, with just a few distant mountain ranges to break up the endless expanses. As of today, they are still continuing their climb upwards to the Antarctic Plateau.

The team from Finland has had their 300 hours of continuous sunlight finally broken when the clouds moved in yesterday. The weather was a bit sporadic but did help to break up the monotony some. They report warmer conditions, and for the first time, a complete lack of wind, which made it difficult to not over heat. They also noted that the snow had begun to change from a solid pack to a bit more soft, allowing them to leave tracks for the first time since reaching Antarctica.

Finally, Mike Horn has had to abandon his skis for now and is using crampons instead thanks to the slippery conditions on the ice. Trying to pull the heavy sled, uphill, on skis was not working well for him. Today he was going to try to put skins on the skis to see if he could gain any traction, but if that didn’t work, the plan was to continue on foot once again. He estimates that this will continue to be a problem for the next 5-6 days. Despite all of that, he still managed to cover nearly 12 nautical miles.

That’s all for now. Lets see what’s happening next week.

Kraig Becker

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