Antarctica 2009: Good Weather and Hard Pack

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The crop of 2009 adventurers heading to the South Pole continue their expeditions, making good time in equally good weather, with several reporting hard pack snow that’s aiding their ability to ski faster and further.

Canadian explorer Meagan McGrath checked in with a fairly lengthy audio dispatch a few days back. She’s adjusting rapidly to being back out on the ice, and is seemingly doing fine. Meagan is one of the polar adventurers who is taking advantage of the hard snow pack, as she indicated that it is allowing her to go faster and with less effort. She’s averaging more than 14 nautical miles per day now, and seems to be settling into her rhythm quite nicely. She also gives a quick assessment of her gear and how it is performing, and mentions that she seems to have gotten her issues worked out on how to recharge her equipment, so expect more timely updates as she continues on her way.

Eric Larsen, Bill Hanlon and Dongsheng Liu have also experienced harder snow the past few days as well. In his latest dispatch, Eric talks about how they had been shuffling along in fluffy, white powder for a awhile, and that can take it’s toll on the team, burning more energy and slowing them down mightily. But Dongsheng made a comment about wish the snow were a bit hard, and his wish was granted later in the day. As a result of their speedier pace, the team is now leaving the Thiel Mountains behind, and is heading out on to the great, wide open, Antarctic expanse, where they are finding blue ice, crevasses, and a variety of other anomalies.

Ryan Waters and Cecilie Skog took a well deserved rest day a few days back. After knocking off 60 miles in just three days, the pair were quite tired, and enjoyed some time in the tent. They are now estimating a New Year’s Eve arrival at the Pole and as of this writing they should be past the 86º S point. Ryan estimates that it takes roughly 4 days to pass a single degree, which puts them in sight of their goal in just about two weeks time.

The Kaspersky Team seem to be enjoying their little ski outing. In fact, they’ve gone so far as to announce a little contest in which we can try to guess how much weight team member Era, from Brunei, will lose on the expedition. Check out this blog post to find out what Era’s diet consists of at the moment, and find out the details of the contest. Essentially, Era weighed in at 57.9kg (127 pounds) before the expedition started. While out on the ice, the girls are consuming roughly 4500 calories per day, but are also skiing between 7.5 and 9 hours per day. So, after all is said and done, how much weight will she lose on this demanding trip to the Pole? Weigh in with your guess within the closest .1 kilo.

Finally, the Shackleton’s Unfinished Business Team have completed their gear prep and skills training, and are now waiting for a proper weather window to be shuttled to Patriot HIlls by the fine folks at ALE. From the sounds of things, the team is in good spirits and ready to go. You may recall that this it the team that will be travel by skis from the point that Shackleton turned back at in 1909. The team also has a team member named Katie Walter, who is just 17 years old, and could become the youngest person to make the journey to the South Pole.

Kraig Becker

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