The weekend had both highs and lows for the polar explorers in the Antarctic. For some, weather conditions continued to make their journeys very challenging, while others began to see a light at the end of the tunnel, with a promise for improvements ahead.
One of the teams that has struggled so mightily so far is the Crossing the Ice team. The boys are hoping to make a round-trip journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back again, but have been greatly slowed by the tough conditions they’ve encountered so far. Their latest updates indicate that the weather has taken a turn for the better, with clear skies and manageable winds. Still, the fine powder of fresh snow has made it difficult to pull their sleds, which is making them expend more energy than they had hoped. They also note that while this is a two-man expedition, they spend most of the time alone, lost in their thoughts. It is impossible to chat while on the trail and at the end of the day they are too exhausted to sleep, so they end up spending a lot of time in solitude. Cas and Jonesy are making the headlines back home in Australia though, as evidenced in the video below, which shares details from the field.
The South Pole 1911-2011 team had a relatively easy go of it compared to others up until last week. They had been skiing across the Ross Ice Shelf, which allowed them to get somewhat acclimated and build a rhythm. But after they made their way on to the continent itself, the challenges ramped up as well. Not only did they have to deal with the long, slow climb up to the Antarctic Plateau, the weather has taken a turn too. Their clear skies and low winds have been replaced with whiteouts and gale forces, which have slowed their progress considerably. They’re also feeling the effects of 20 days on the ice as well, and although they were tempted to take a rest day yesterday, they continue to soldier on.
Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour spent the weekend at the ALCI base, which was was hit with a blizzard. The duo were forced to restart their planned 3 month long, 6000km expedition that will, if successful, become the longest unsupported Antarctic adventure ever. Dixie and Sam spent the past few days selecting a new starting location and working out the logistics of getting dropped off at the new position, and now they’re eager to get back underway. Unfortunately, the weather will prevent that from happening until tomorrow at the earliest, although Wednesday looks to be the most likely day to relaunch.
Also eager to get underway are Felicity Aston, Richard Weber, and Mark Wood. Each arrived at Union Glacier over the weekend and are now putting the final touches on their preparation for their various journeys to the South Pole. Expect these three independent expeditions to all begin in the next day or two.
Finally, the annual pilgrimage of climbers to Mt. Vinson has begun. Teams are now arriving on the continent and making their way out to the 4892 meter (16,050 ft) which is the tallest on the continent. Most of these climbers are in the midst of their Seven Summits bids and are hoping to knock off Vinson over the next few weeks. A handful of climbers will be tackling other, lesser known, mountains as well.