Antarctica 2011: Dixie and Sam Will Restart


The 2011 Antarctic season is proving to be a particularly rough one for a number of the explorers that are now out on the ice. While it is still early in the austral summer, the weather has remained fickle and teams have struggled at times to make progress. One of those teams, the Antarctic ICE squad of Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour, have even made the decision to restart their expedition altogether.

You may recall that Dixie and Sam traveled to Antarctica to embark on a three-month long journey that would have them exploring a chunk of the continent that has seldom been visited by man. They plan to use kites to cover longer distances – they estimate they’ll cover about 6000km, while also taking weather readings to record the impact of climate change on the region.

As of now, they’ve been out on the ice for a total of nine days, but due to very challenging conditions, they’ve decided it is for the best that they be picked-up and transported to a safer starting point. Over the course of their first week in the Antarctic, they’ve managed to cover just 27km (16.7 miles) in large part because they’ve encountered large chunks of ice and rubble that are seldom seen on a journey in this part of the world. Dixie, who is a veteran of both the North and South Pole, says that he has never seen conditions such as these in the Antarctic. He compares them to what he would expect traveling to the North Pole, where the arctic ocean creates more unstable and unexpected issues.

Those strange conditions aren’t the only thing the pair have been dealing with. The weather has been less than cooperative as well, and temperatures have been far colder than expected. Frostbite has been a major concern so far, and while neither man has had any real issues with it yet, they have been battling “frost nip” on their nose and cheeks. High winds have dogged their progress as well, exhausting their physical strength and playing havoc with their tent.

Today, the duo announced that they have chosen to have ALE pick them up and take them to a safer place to restart their journey. Before that can happen however, they have to clear off a section of the ice to allow a plane to land. That could take a day or two, which will also give them time to discuss where exactly they’ll go next, as they are moving through uncharted sections of the continent and could encounter similar conditions again. Dixie and Sam are quick to point out that there first week wasn’t a total loss, as they are now well acclimatized and have their gear tuned properly for the expedition ahead.

We’ll have another update from Dixie and Sam in the next few days, most likely after they’ve been transported to their new starting point. It seems their spirits remain high and they’re eager to get their journey properly underway, despite the setbacks they’ve endured so far.

Kraig Becker