Antarctica 2011: Still Waiting…

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These updates on the Antarctic are starting to sound like a broken record. Weather continues to delay the start of the 2011 Antarctic season, as more teams gather in Punta Arenas, waiting for the first flights out. The first group of adventurers was scheduled to hit the ice last weekend, but ALE has had to postpone flights for a variety of weather related reasons.

The initial delays were because of snow covering the blue-ice runway at the Union Glacier camp and it was expected to take the skeleton crew that is currently there a few days to clear the powder away. After that, a new front moved through, bringing high winds to the area that were going to make landing very difficult. That resulted in a few more days delay, which brought heavy snows to the camp, which are likely to delay the start even further.

According to the Crossing the Ice squad, made up of James Castrission and Justin Jones, more than a meter of snow fell at Union Glacier at the end of last week, and high winds was blowing that around. That meant they didn’t fly out again over the weekend, and they’ve now been waiting for more than ten days to start their expedition. They plan to make the first unsupported journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back again, so they are more than eager to get started.

It seems they won’t be the only ones attempting that feat however, as they have also met Norwegian skier Aleksander Gamme while biding their time in Punta Arenas. Aleksander is hoping to make the same journey and while they seem to have struck up a nice friendship in Chile, there could be a bit of rivalry once their out on the ice. All in good fun of course, but both expeditions are hoping to be the first to achieve this impressive goal.

For now though, everyone sits and waits for the weather, and at this point, I’m not even going to bother trying to predict when things will get underway. It’ll begin when it begins, but for teams with a strict schedule, things are already starting to get very tight. Let’s hope they get their chance to hit the ice soon.

Kraig Becker