It was a busy weekend up north, where the teams are all finally out on the ice and battling the elements, in their various quests to stand at the top of the world. It hasn’t been easy going so far though, as large areas of open water and massive ice fields have made it nearly impossible to make good time. While some struggle forward at a snails pace, battling negative drift in the process, one team has reportedly already called for evacuation from the ice.
According to ExWeb, the Irish Team of Pat Falvey, Clare O’Leary and John Dowd have called for a pick-up after Dowd began showing signs of frostbite on two of his finger tips. ExWeb quotes the expedition’s home team with the disappointing news, as neither the team’s website nor Dowd’s updates indicate anything about the call for evac. According to the story however, the rescue plane is en route, although there may not be any safe place for it to land. They team may have to ski back to Ward Hunt Island, where they set out, in order to be retrieved. That could take as much as 2-3 days to happen. Let’s hope John doesn’t suffer too much damage to his fingers before help arrives.
Australian Tom Smitheringale has faced his share of challenges already as is evidenced in the updates on his progress. Today, his support team back home says that they are concerned with his progress so far, as despite the decent weather conditions, he making nearly as much progress as they had hoped. The figured that he would need to average 13 kilometers per day to make the journey on the supplies that he has. So far, he’s averaged just 2.7 kilometers. On top of that, he’s had a few issues with equipment that haven’t helped the cause either. Still, Tom is chugging along, remains optimistic, and is determined to reach the top of the world. It should also be noted, that usually when explorers go to the North Pole, they have very slow going in the early stages of their expedition, but can pick up speed and distance later. Let’s hope that’s how it works out for Tom too.
Eric Larsen, Antony Jinman an Darcy St Laurent finally got underway late last week, and are already working their way north as well. They team has been struggling to go over and around giant blocks of ice thus far, and while they’ve struggled to make modest milage gains during the day, they’ve seen a lot of it evaporate over night thanks to negative drift. In fact, in the update from yesterday, the boys were happy to see they lost just 350 feet over night. Still, they are passing through those ice fields, and that gives them optimism that things will improve in the future, and they can start making major gains to their ultimate goal.
Christiana Franco continues her solo and unassisted trek to the Pole as well, sending birthday wishes to her mum today. She has also had to deal with massive blocks of ice, and negative drift. At one point, she spent all day moving forward, only to discover that she had made zero progress towards the Pole, a disheartening way to begin her expedition thus far.
Dan Darley and Amelia Russell have had their own problems with negative drift as well, sliding 2000 meters to the south and another 4000 to the west in just one night’s time. But, they are reporting flat ice at the moment, and are recording good progress forward, very thankful for not having to deal with blocks of ice the other teams are currently struggling with. They say they don’t know how long it’ll last, but they’re going to enjoy it while they can. The two Brits are also celebrating completing their first half-degree. At this point, small victories are still victories!
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