Antarctic Update: Shackleton Team Approaches 97 Mile Mark

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The weekend has come and gone for those of us following along at home, but for the teams still out on the ice, the beat goes on as they continue their long, slow, steady march to the Pole.

For the Shackleton Centenary Team, it’s been a tough couple of days. Howling winds and cold temperatures have brought the coldest conditions yet, with the mercury plummeting to -52º C (-62 º F) with the windchills. The boys are enduring 7.5 hours out in those conditions each day, knocking off more than 13 nautical miles per day in the process, but after 53 days on the ice, it’s begun to take it’s toll. The team is now just four days away from their rendezvous point with their “second team”, who will meet them just 97 miles from the Pole and travel along for those last few days. That team will include Andrew Ledger, the man selected from more than 3000 online applicants to join the team for the final push. At their current pace, it looks like the team will reach the South Pole At their current pace, they should reach the Pole sometime near the end of next week.

The latest update from Mark Langridge is that he is still waiting at the Southe Pole for a pick-up from ALE to shuttle him back to Patriot Hills and then on to Punta Arenas. He was scheduled to be picked-up today and should be back in the U.K. in the next few days. Originally Mark had intended to ski back to Patriot Hills after reaching the Pole, but abandoned that plan early on. Now that he’s been sitting there waiting for a few days, he’s probably thinking he could have skied back faster.

Mark was joined at the Pole this weekend by Thomas Davenport and the rest of his team, led by Sarah McNair-Landry. It has been a number of days since we heard anything out of Tom, and it turns out the team had some issues with their solar panels, which are used to recharge all of their night gadgets, like iPods and sat phones. Because of that, he was unable to get out a dispatch until late last Friday. Thomas reports that everyone is fine and doing well, and they should be on their way back home soon too.

The South Pole 2008 Team also reached the Pole on the third of January after 41 days out on the ice. Most of them are also awaiting pick-up for a flight back to the World, but one team member, Jeremy Rogers, will actually kite back to the coast. I guess he didn’t get enough suffering the first time around.

The South Pole Quest Team continues their frenzied pace, for the most part. They’ve managed more than 20 nautical miles per day over the last several days, but were limited to just six today thanks to whiteout conditions. It was so bad that veteran polar explorer Richard Webber has called it the worst whiteout he’s seen at either Pole. The team has now crossed the 88th degree and are well on their way to the 89th. The end is nearly in sight!

Mike Horn has crossed the 87th degree, but it hasn’t been easy. The day started out good for him, and when the winds picked up, Mike saw his opportunity to break out the kite and make up some mileage. Unfortunately, when he unfurled the kite, the high winds whipped it around, tangling the cords, and costing him precious time as he struggled to correct the problem. To make up for that lost time, Mike ended up walking for extra hours, and didn’t crawl into his tent until 1:30 AM.

Finally, Todd Carmichael continues to go through his photos, and promises to provide some soon, but for now, you can check out a cool video he shot and edited together by clicking here. It’s gives us the viewers a good indication of what he experienced out there on the ice.

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