Antarctica 2011: Explorers Hit The Ice At Last


Before my brief hiatus last week, the skiers preparing to head to Antarctica were still waiting for a flight out of Punta Arenas so they could get underway. At the time, the weather was still playing havoc with the schedule, but it seemed like it would only be a day or two before the season would officially get underway. Turns out it took a bit longer than that, but the first skiers are out on the ice at last.

Amongst the first teams out were the Crossing the Ice squad of James Castrission and Justin Jones, who plan to make the journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back again, completely unsupported. The Aussies sent a blog post back yesterday saying that they had arrived on the Antarctic continent and were preparing to start their journey south. Unfortunately, they ran into a bit of bad luck once again, and some of their food supplies were left on the ALE plane, which means they can’t leave the camp until the Ilyushin aircraft returns, which is expected to happen today or tomorrow. Once they’re fully supplied, they’ll begin the first stage of their expedition, although at that point, they’ll be nearly 2 weeks behind schedule.

Alexander Gramme has also arrived on the ice and over the weekend and has already started his march south. After spending a bit of time yesterday getting his gear organized, he managed to get underway today and has already logged about 8km. He tells his home team that conditions are good, that he is feeling well, and is happy to be on the ice at last. The Norwegian adventurer is also hoping to make a there-and-back-again journey to the South Pole from Hercules.

Look for a host of more teams to arrive in Antarctica in the next few days. ALE had missed several flights out, and now that the weather has taken a turn for the better, they’ll be looking to shuttle skiers and climbers as quickly and efficiently as possible. A number of those teams will be following in the footsteps of Amundsen and Scott, so there should be plenty of action in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned for plenty more news and updates.

Kraig Becker