For the past few months, we’ve been following polar explorer Chris Foot as he attempted to become the first person to make solo and unsupported trip from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back again. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen, and Foot has called an end to his expedition as he arrives to the South Pole.
Two days ago, Chris posted a dispatch saying that he had come to the tough decision to pull the plug on his return trip thanks in no small part due to an increasingly short time frame to complete the journey. As you may recall, way back in November, there were a number of weather delays that left Chris, and other Antarctic adventurers stranded in Punta Arenas, Chile for a number of days. Even then, Foot was starting to worry about the time constraints that those delays put on him, but he still wanted to solider on, even as his window of opportunity started to close.
Now, he simply says that there isn’t enough time, and he can’t maintain a fast enough speed, to safely complete his round trip. Even with a much lighter sledge and a better understanding of the conditions that he is dealing with, he doesn’t feel that it is prudent to go on. So, with a clearly heavy heart, he has come to the realization that it is best to stop at the Pole, which he should have reached on January 4th, although there has been no update to confirm that.
I want to commend Chris for a great effort and for his adventurous spirit. He gave it a heck of a shot, but he had other forces outside of his control that conspired against him. For now, he’ll have to be content with reaching the South Pole on foot, which is a great accomplishment in and of itself.
Meanwhile, Willem ter Horst and Hannah McKeand continue their march to the Pole. They are approaching the 89th degree, which puts the Pole in striking distance. Willem says he hopes to finish in the next week, but strong winds and lots of small, but challenging, sastrugi are making it tough going for the pair. Yesterday they completed just 12.2 nautical miles, which makes the finish line seem so close, and yet so far away right now.
Finally, we’ll wrap up with an update on Christian Eide, who is attempting to break the speed record for the fastest solo and unsupported trip to the South Pole. He is now 17 days in and nearing the 87th degree, which is very impressive in such a short time period. He’s currently skiing around 25 nautical miles per day, and could conceivably increase that number as he nears the Pole. Strong head winds have made it a challenge for Eide as well however, and if they persist they could slow him down some. Still, at this juncture, he looks like he could break that record in the next few weeks.
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