Antarctic Update: Shackleton Team Closing In

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Lots of good stuff from the ice today, despite the fact that the season is winding down.

The Shackleton Centenary Team is now united with all of their members and speeding towards the Pole. They knocked off 14 nautical miles today with great weather and clear skies aiding the cause. They now believe that they’ll reach their destination on January 17th, this coming Saturday. If they hold to that goal, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t at this point, they’ll reach the South Pole exactly 97 years after Robert Falcon Scott did so. A double cause for celebration and reflection if ever there was one. Stay strong boys!

Thomas Davenport has updated us on his return journey to Patriot HIlls today. You may recall that Tom skied to the Pole from that starting point, and reached his goal, along with the rest of his team, back on the 2nd of January. After a few days rest there however, he and a few others have now turned around and are kiting back to where they began. In today’s dispatch, he says that they have mostly experienced moderate winds so far, but even those have been enough for them to cover 40+ nautical miles per day. Yesterday they actually covered 54nm! At these speeds, they’ll be back in Patriot Hills in no time. In fact, he notes that in the five days since they left the Pole, they have already covered a third of the return trip. He seems to like this form of transit much better. 😉

Updates on Mike Horn’s Pangea Expedition website indicate that he has met up with his pal Borge Ousland and the old friends are now sitting at 88.5º S, along with a couple of people that Borge is guiding to the Pole. Another group of explorers has also joined them, making for a crowded camp for a change. Mike has now gone from complete solitude for days to a raucous group over night. Tomorrow they’ll continue together toward the Pole and with any luck they’ll arrive their at the end of their day or on Wedneday.

Finally, Todd Carmichael has posted a final dispatch to his blog, offering up some final thoughts on his expedition and some of the things he had to overcome to reach the South Pole and in record time. He lists all the things that broke along the way, and it’s quite an extensive rundown that had me laughing out loud and shaking my head at the same time. Definitely worth the read. Todd also steps out a bit and offers some thoughts on the South Pole Quest Team reaching the Pole in a faster time than he did. While he does offer those boys his congratulations, he does think there is a big distinction between his expedition and theirs in that he went unguided to the Pole. I agree with his thoughts.

Over the past few days I’ve read a number of stories about how the South Pole Quest Team, consisting of Polar veteran Richard Weber, Ray Zahab, and Kevin Vallely, broke Todd’s record just days after it was set. Most of the stories I’ve seen failed to mention that Todd went solo and unassisted on his journey, and that is a huge thing to overlook. I’ve had to stop myself on more than one occasion from writing a snippy comment to a story, as I figured my remarks would fall on deaf ears anyway. Todd focus on the fact that the team was guided and that they had one of the best polar guides in the world with them, but even if they didn’t have Weber along for the ride, I still don’t feel it’s the same level of accomplishment. Being all alone out there on the ice, going solo, with no one else to talk to or share the experience with, is a completely different level of commitment. Not having someone to help you break trail or even break the wind as they lead also greatly effects your speed, health, and stamina. I greatly respect what both Todd and the South Pole Quest Team did this Antarctic season, but I for one think that the SOLO element of Todd’s journey needs to be emphasized more and recognized for the huge accomplishment it is.

I’m getting off my soap box now. 😉

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “Antarctic Update: Shackleton Team Closing In”

  1. Yep! Been a great year on the ice. Some really amazing things done down there.

    Now bring on the North Pole Season! 🙂

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