Antarctic 2011: More Teams Heading For the Ice

On the ice 7 profile 2

The new out of Punta Arenas this morning is that ALE is resuming flights to Antarctica, which means more teams are now preparing to start their journeys across the frozen continent. Among them is Felicity Aston, who is hoping to become the first woman to traverse the continent solo and unsupported. Earlier today, Felicity tweeted that that she was once again on stand-by, waiting to see if she would be able to fly today, but she soon followed that up with a note saying that she was “a go” for Antarctica. She’ll now proceed to Hercules Inlet, the starting point of her expedition.

Also likely to be on that plane is Richard Weber, who will be leading a team of kite-skiers to the South Pole, and quite possibly Mark Wood, who is eager to launch his North-South Expedition, during which he’ll be making back-to-back journeys to the North and South Poles. In his latest audio dispatch, Mark says that the flights have been delayed once again, and that he may not fly out until Sunday, but that is conflict with Felicity’s comments, which indicate they are indeed going today.

One of the elements of Mark’s expedition that I failed to mention the first time I wrote about it is that he is taking a different approach to raising awareness about his particular cause, which in this case is global climate change. While a lot of adventurers attempt to raise funds to support an organization or charity, Mark is instead working with DoNation and is asking us all to show our support for him by pledging to do small, day-to-day, things to help the environment. So instead of sending him money, we can instead pledge to ride our bike rather than using our cars or something similar. The site lists a number of things that we can all do in our lives to help protect the environment, each of which is assigned with a saving in CO2 emissions. Mark hopes that the cumulative savings of all of our pledges will exceed 100,000KG of CO2.

As for the teams out already on the ice, they continue to battle the elements and the conditions. Dixie and Sam were successfully airlifted back to the ALCI yesterday and are now plotting their next move. They hope to announce their restart position and plans over the weekend, and return to their expedition as soon as possible. You may recall, the two men has to be retrieved from the ice after having a horrendously bad start to their planned 3-month long, 6000km expedition that would be the longest unsupported Antarctic journey ever. From the sounds of things, the retrieval process was a bit harrowing, with snow and fog making it challenging for the plane to come find the two men. But in the end, they are safely back at base and figuring out where to go next.

Aussies Cas and Jonesy are getting some media attention in their home country, appearing on a morning television show that is following their progress. You can check out the video of the segment below, which gives you a good indication of what it is like for the boys as they make their way towards the South Pole. The halfway point of their expedition. It has been slow going thus far, but they are still hopeful that things will improve over time.

Kraig Becker