Antarctica 2009: More Teams Reach The Pole!

There has been a lot of action at the geographic South Pole since my last update on the progress of teams in the Antarctic. Several more have reached their goal, while other explorers continue their march to 90ºS.

We’ll start with Ryan Waters and Cecilie Skog. The pair, who set out on an unassisted expedition to the Pole in early November, reached that destination on New Year’s Eve and kicked off 2010 in grand fashion. It took them 49 days to complete the 730 mile journey. But that is just one milestone for this ambitious pair, who will now turn north once again, and make their way to the Axel Heiberg Glacier along the Ross Sea. When they are finished, they’ll have completed a traverse of the continent.

The Shackleton’s Unfinished Journey Team also reached the Pole on New Year’s Eve, completing their last degree (plus) ski expedition. They began their journey at 88.23ºS, the location from which Ernest Shackleton turned back 100 years ago, and by reaching the South Pole, Katie Walter became the youngest person to make that journey on skis. She’s just 17 years old. Quite a way to spend your Christmas holiday, huh?

Eric Larsen, Bill Hanlon and Dongsheng Liu completed their journey to the Pole as well, finishing their journey on Saturday, January 2nd. The team was pushing hard the day before, and came within five miles of the finish line, when they decided to take a break and get refreshed, before pressing on. Since their arrival, Eric and the boys have been touring the research station and catching up on some much needed rest, before heading back to Patriot Hills, and eventually home.

Meagan McGrath last checked in on January 1st, sending New Year greetings to everyone following along at home. She says that it was her best day yet out on the ice, and that she was very happy with her progress. She also promises more details on her expedition, the weather, and terrain, and so on now that the holidays are behind us. Meagan also reached another milestone on her solo, unassisted journey to the Pole by passing the 86ºS mark.

Finally, the Kaspersky Commonwealth Team remains in Antarctica, although they have left the Pole and are now back in Patriot Hills, where they are sorting their gear and preparing to be plucked from the ice by ALE. Reportedly, the weather is calm and warm, at least by Antarctic standards, and while the girls are happy to be done with their journey, they have bittersweet emotions about leaving each other, and the ice behind, as they head back to their respective countries.

On a personal note, I want to congratulate all the teams for a job well done. Reaching the Pole is an amazing accomplishment, and I have a lot of respect to these men and women who challenge themselves to make the journey. Well done everyone!

Kraig Becker

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