Antarctica 2010: Conditions Great At The Bottom Of The World

A number of teams are reporting in that the weather conditions in Antarctica have been fantastic over the past few days, with clear skies, calm winds, and moderate temperatures. As a result, everyone is making good time, but wondering how long their good fortune will last.

Willem ter Horst and Hannah McKeand have crossed the 85ºS point, which puts them halfway to the Pole and the end of their journey. It wasn’t easy getting to that point however, as the pair were working up hill for most of the day yesterday before they reached the top of the Antarctic Plateau and spotted the Thiel Mountains for the first time. After 8 hours on their skies, they felt fresh enough to press on, claim the 85th degree, and make their day today much easier. The plan is to ski 12 nautical miles today before they take their second planned rest day tomorrow.

Chris Foot has also crossed the 85ºS mark, but that only puts him a quarter of the way towards completing his expedition. While it is true that he is also now halfway to the Pole, that is not the finish line for his journey. Once there, he intends to turn around and ski back to Union Glacier where he started, marking the first solo and unsupported trip along that route. Foot says that conditions remain fantastic, and he continues to make great time. He is also in great spirits because he has been communicating with his mates back home in the U.K. as the holidays loom. At the moment, it seems like it should be a relatively easy trip to 90ºS for Chris. Lets hope his spirits and stamina remain high as he makes the turn back towards the coast in a few weeks time.

The Fuchs Foundation Team hurriedly departed Antarctica on Sunday, hopping a flight back to Punta Arenas courtesy of ALE. The weather conditions were so good that they hadn’t expected to leave so son, but they threw their gear together and were off before they really had time to reflect. It seems that the group of educators enjoyed their stay in the Antarctic, where they had the opportunity to conduct research and experiments. Presumably they are in safely back in Chile now, and preparing for the flight home, mission accomplished.

A new skier has just set out, late in the season for the South Pole, as Norwegian Christian Eide just got underway yesterday. Christian is no stranger to the Antarctic however, as ExWeb reports that he has already topped out on Vinson this season and has completed a Last Degree journey to the Pole was well. Hopefully he is quick on the ice, as he has a long way to go. Perhaps he’ll cross paths with Chris Foot making his return trek. Good luck Christian!

The Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition officially came to an end on Sunday when the team arrived back at the Union Glacier camp. They were extremely happy to enter the mess tent and grab a hot coffee, but most of all they were happy to get a Coca-Cola. No word yet if they’ve departed for Chile as well, but they should be off the ice and headed back to civilization soon too. They’ve also managed to accomplish their goals, which included setting a new speed record for traversing the continent.

Meanwhile, over on Vinson, more teams have been topping out, with a slew of climbers claiming one of their goals in reaching the Seven Summits. With the good weather in place, I imagine plenty of climbers have had the opportunity in the past few days.

Speaking of Vinson, Alan Arnette is back in Colorado, recovering nicely form his Antarctic adventure while preparing for Aconcagua in a few weeks. Alan has shared his thoughts on his climb of Vinson in a recent blog post. This is, of course, the first of his Seven Summits for Alzheimer’s climbs, so expect to hear much more from Alan in the days ahead. Congrats Alan!

That’s all for now! More in a few days.