We enter the final week of the Antarctic season with a few adventurers still out on the ice and some desperately working to reach their finish line. This Friday is the deadline for the last plane out, and while most of the explorers have already left for home, there are still some lingering on the frozen continent, as the clock ticks down to the end of another busy season.
The big news of the past few days is that Felicity Aston has finished her journey and is now in Hercules Inlet. You may recall that she started at the Ross Ice Shelf, traveled to the South Pole, and then made her way to the Hercules finish. In completing this journey, which covered 1744km (1083 miles) in 59 days, she has now become the first woman to make a solo traverse of Antarctica. As of this writing, she is waiting for ALE to send a plane to pick her up, but high winds are keeping her in place for now. She hopes to be off the ice, and on her way home, soon though. Congrats on a job well done Felicity!
One man who should be closing in on his finish is Aleksander Gamme. The Norwegian explorer has been attempting to become the first person to travel from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, and back, solo and unassisted. In his most recent update, posted yesterday, Gamme says that he is already starting to feel a bit sad about leaving the Antarctic, even though he has been out on the ice for more than 85 days now. He should arrive back at Hercules today or tomorrow, which will bring an end to an epic journey that is simply an amazing feat to say the least.
Also hoping to go from Hercules to the Pole and back are Aussie lads Cas and Jonesy. The boys are on their own stretch run but still have some work ahead of them before they can rest. Low on supplies, nursing a number injuries, they are slowly but surely limping their way back to where their journey started, and as of this writing they still have 152km (94.4 miles) to go before they are done. That translates to about 38km (23 miles) per day over the next four days to be at Hercules in time to catch that plane. Considering how dedicated they are to reaching their goal, and how hard they’ve been working on their return trip, I wouldn’t bet against these two men making it to the end. It’s just going to be one tough slog to get there.
I’ll post updates as these final expeditions come to an end and the explorers catch that plane back to Punta Arenas. It has been one exciting year in the Antarctic, and it looks like its going to end on a couple of high notes.
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