Antarctica 2011: Felicity At The Pole!

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As expected, Felicity Aston reached the South Pole yesterday, which is a terrific milestone in her attempt to become the first woman to go solo and unsupported across the Antarctic continent. On her Twitter feed, Felicity announced that she arrived at approximately 4:00 PM amidst nearly a complete whiteout conditions. She was greeted by friends upon her arrival, and was soon warm and well fed.

While her arrival at the Pole is indeed cause to celebrate, Felicity is far from finished. Having started her journey on the Ross Ice Shelf, she now plans to ski to Hercules Inlet to complete her traverse. That means that the bulk of the distance still lies ahead, although she will be descending back to the coast, which should help ease the journey some. Listen to Felicity’s audio dispatch from 90ºS by clicking here.

Another skier who has been closing in on the Pole is South African Howard Fairbank, who was at 88.17ºS as of yesterday. Unfortunately, bad weather set in, forcing Howard to take shelter in his tent, while high winds caused whiteout conditions. As you can imagine, this has left him feeling a bit frustrated about the situation, as he is close enough to the Pole that he can practically smell it, and his recent days on the ice have been very productive mileage wise. Hopefully today is a better day for Howard, who should reach the Pole in time before Christmas. That is, if the weather cooperates.

Mark Wood is continuing his slow, steady, and sure march to the South Pole. He has now been out on the ice for 30 days – a solid month– and yesterday he crossed the 85th parallel. He expects that it will take upwards of another 20 days to reach the Pole, which is a bit off the pace he had originally intended. Still, his spirits remain high and he seems as focused as ever on achieving the first leg of his goal. Once he’s completed his Antarctic march, Mark will then head north to the Arctic, where he’ll face the even more challenging trek to the North Pole.

Finally, the two teams in the Scott-Amundsen Centenary Race keep plugging away as well. The Amundsen squad covered 12.5 nautical miles (23.1km) yesterday and as a result, they’ve now crossed the 86th degree. They still have about 240 miles (386km) to go until they reach the Pole, and the terrible weather they’ve had to deal with over the past few days hasn’t helped much. Meanwhile, their compatriots on the Scott Team are dealing with dangerous crevasse fields as they struggle to leave the Bearmore Glacier behind at last. Once that obstacle is behind them, they hope to pick up some speed on the way to the finish line as well. They are currently 305 nautical miles (564km) from the Pole, but remain focused on their goal.

Kraig Becker