Antarctica 2009: Business As Usual Down South

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It’s been a rather by-the-book week in the Antarctic, with the teams all continuing to make progress, but without any major issues.

The Kaspersky Commonwealth Team hit another milestone by pulling within sight of the Thiel Mountains, but not before they came across a couple of large Nunataks, which are rocky outcroppings that stick-up through the ice. By all accounts, the weather has been cooperating nicely, and spirits remain high, making the journey a good one, despite the day-to-day rigors of skiing for hours on end.

Ryan Waters and Cecilie Skog aren’t having the same kind of luck with the weather however, as in their latest dispatch, they report day long whiteout conditions. As a result, they had no horizon, or other landmarks, to use as bearings, but had to rely on their compass instead. Having crossed 85ºS, they now simply need to keep the arrow on the “S”, and they’ll be fine.

Meagan McGrath is back out on the trail and making good time as well, although her most recent audio dispatch was a bit brief. She reports that she is having problems recharging her gear at the moment, but hopes to have that resolved soon. She is taking questions from those of us following along at home, and answers one today about what she does while out on the trail. Meagan talks about how she mostly keeps her mind focused on what is going on around her, watching her compass heading, and especially keeping an eye out for crevasses. I’m sure, considering recent events, she’s VERY wary of those icy cracks in the Earth.

Eric Larsen and his crew keep chugging away as well. Their dispatches have been very good, as always, but as the expedition has gone on, they’ve given us a nice glimpse into what it is like on a daily basis. The trek is a long, and arduous one, and the team has built in a rest day every seven days out on the ice to help them remain fresh and stay focused. Eric notes that those days are great, as they sleep late, eat lots of food and drink water, recharge the batteries, and stay in the warm tent. Seems like the schedule is working well for them thus far too, as they continue to take large chunks of mileage out of their journey each day.

Finally, Chris Davenport and his band of intrepid skiers continue to find new peaks to conquer. They’ve been exploring the Antarctic and making first descents on a number of mountains, including one that they came across, and dubbed, the Antarctic Sphinx, a 1500 foot tall, diamond shaped mountain, with a 45º face to attack. The team attempted a climb, but found it a bit unstable, but did ski back down, in what they call the best turns they’ve made on the continent thus far. Sounds like an epic ride, which one of the skiers did in 5 turns over 800 feet.

Kraig Becker

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