The 2010 Antarctic season remains on hold today as ALE’s planes continue to be grounded due to poor weather conditions at their Union Glacier base on the continent itself. There does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel however, as the forecast looks good for a possible weekend start for the first teams heading to the South Pole.
Chris Foot sent another dispatch today from Punta Areans, Chile where he reports that the winds have increased in Antarctica, but the amount of snow falling has dropped. That means that ALE’s advance team should be going to work on clearing the landing strip which will allow the big Ilyushin planes to start shuttling explorers to the continent. That should begin in a day or two, allowing the explorers to finally get underway on Saturday or Sunday. In Chris’ case that means he’ll start his 1390+ mile journey to the Pole and back to Hercules Inlet, in a solo and unassisted fashion. If he’s successful, it’ll be the first time anyone has made that trip.
Meanwhile, ExWeb has posted an interview with Col. Anand Swaroop with the Indian Army. He’s heading up a team of 8 men from that country, along with two guides, who will be making the journey on skis to the South Pole as well. In the interview he talks about some of the logistics of that expedition, the challenges that await them in Antarctica, and having to sit and wait, like everyone else, in Punta Arenas.
Hopefully that project weather window will come in the next day or two, and these explorers can finally get underway. Even a few days back, there were already concerns about the time line for making the journey and if some would miss their chance. Schedules are already starting to get tight and not everyone is optimistic, but I’m guessing they’ll all feel a lot better once they hit the ice and get underway.
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