Antarctica 2009: Setting the Stage

We’re probably just days away now from the first teams setting out for Patriot Hills and beginning the long, cold, march to the South Pole and beyond. More explorers are showing up in Punta Arenas, and are in the final stages of their preparation to hit the ice, while ALE (Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions) is poised to deliver them to their starting points, where ever that may be.

Speaking ALE, ExWeb is reporting that they, along with the South Pole Station management team, are warning all visitors that the 7km radio antenna is still active this year and that they should plan to navigate well around the device. The very powerful radio signal can interfere with compasses and cause all kinds of issues with communications devices, so it is best to avoid the area as much as possible. There are some thoughts on how to adjust this in the future to make it less of an issue, but those changes aren’t likely to take effect until next year.

The Kaspersky Commonwealth Team appears to have settled in nicely in Punta Arenas, where they are packing, sewing, and preparing for their journey. They’ve also posted a video on their blog giving us a tour of their living quarters, which while spartan, will seem down right luxurious to them soon.

Eric Larsen is also in Chile, and according to his latest blog post, he’s been doing his last minute shopping, mainly for food. He talks about planning for this expedition and trying to decide how much food to carry vs. how much it’ll all weigh on the sled. He’ll have the opportunity to get resupply along the way, but it’s a delicate balancing act, trying to decide how long it’ll take to get to the food caches, with weather and ice conditions having an impact on how fast the team can travel.

Meagan McGrath has posted another audio update to her blog as well, with an update on her progress. She’s still in Ottawa at this point, and has been finishing up some last minute details before she sets out for Punta Arenas on the 18th of the month. She’s also been doing some training in preparation, and even went to the Adirondacks climbing last weekend, and working on getting her gear prepared. She is embarking on a year long adventure, in which the the South Pole journey is just the beginning, so expect to hear a lot more from Meagan in the days and weeks to come.

Finally, polar explorer Børge Ousland is off on another adventure, this time in the wilds of Patagonia, where he’ll be traversing the Patagonian Icecap on foot. He arrived in Punta Arenas on the 2nd of November, and has now set off on his journey, along with two companions, and while he’s not technically in Antarctica, I’ll be posting updates on his progress in these reports as well. Ousland has already begun posting updates from the field, and it sounds like the legendary beauty of Patagonia is already on display before they even arrive on the ice.

Kraig Becker

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