As usual, we’ll start with Todd Carmichael who has had a tough day on the trail the past two days. The softer snow has made it difficult for him to continue at the blistering pace that he’d set over the past few weeks, and though he is still making good time, it’s requiring more effort. Todd knocked off 17nm and 15.2nm over the course of yesterday and today, but says that his sled feels like it weighs more now than it did when he set out, despite the fact that he has far fewer supplies on it than he did 35 days ago. Never the less, the American has set a goal of reaching the Pole on December 20th (this Saturday), and to do so, he’ll have to cover an average of more than 19 nautical miles each of the next few days. His home team also reports that it’s “all or nothing” at this point, as his supplies are dwindling quickly, and injury, adverse weather, or damaged equipment could put his “unsupported” status in jeopardy. It should be fun to watch how this unfolds over the next few days. Good luck Todd!
The Shackleton Centenary Team may be off the Ross Ice Shelf, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the ice. Their latest dispatch has them hitting an ice field, and has left them looking like “Bambi on ice skates” while they struggled to make time. Tomorrow they’ll don the crampons to aid in their progression however, as they are now squarely onto the Beardmore Glacier and trudging through the Trans-Antarctic Mountains.
Mark Langridge continues his journey to the Pole, and is now 36 days out from Patriot Hills. He has reached another milestone, passing the 87th parallel, while continuing to climb uphill, battling sastrugi all the way. He is reportedly in great spirits however, and having a great time. The home team reports that he stops each day to take photographs along his journey, which gives me the impression that he’s out for a leisurely stroll.
The South Pole Quest Team began the day in whiteout conditions which made for tough navigation and slowed progress in general. Eventually, however, the sky cleared, and visibility increased, allowing them to make better time. When it was all said and done, the team finished the day with it’s best mileage ever, and wound up 19.2nm closer to the Pole. Todays question from a high school student is a good one: “If you run into trouble, how many days of food do you have until you run out?” Listen to their audio answer here.
Mike Horn also reports whiteout conditions have hampered his progress the past two days, and with navigation all but impossible, he decided to just continue heading due south. That philosophy worked great for him until he ran smack into a crevasse field. They turned out to not be especially large, but it was alarming none the less, because Mike stumbled into them without even knowing they were there. The veteran of polar exploration has a reunion planned for the South Pole, as he now hopes to reach that spot at the same time as his old companion Borge Ousland, who he went to the North Pole with awhile back. Borge is on a last degree expedition to the South Pole.
A few other quick updates today. The Fins send holiday greetings back home, and the South Pole 2008 Team reports that they have now passed the 86th degree after four weeks on the ice, meanwhile Tom Davenport posts about what brought him to Antarctica and his complete pleasure at being there.
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