Antarctica 2011: Still Waiting For A Lift

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The Antarctic season was suppose to be all but over by now, but bad weather is keeping ALE’s planes grounded in Punta Arenas and leaving the last of the explorers stranded out on the ice. That meant that Cas and Jonesy, along with Aleksander Gamme, had to spend the weekend at the Union Glacier camp, where they at least had the opportunity to enjoy a few creature comforts while they wait for their lift home.

Union Glacier is actually the site of ALE’s base of operations on the continent, and as a result, there is a small, but busting community there this time of year. That meant that not only did the boys receive a hot shower, they’re also getting better meals and warmer tents to stay in. All that said, they are anxious to start their journey for home, but the next attempt at picking them up won’t come until tomorrow, January 31st. If conditions improve, they should be on their way back to Chile at that point, then home to Australia and Norway shortly there after.

As you can imagine, it has been a huge relief for the three men to have completed their individual expeditions. No one has ever skied from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, and back again, completely unsupported. But now, both Cas and Jonesy and Aleksander have made that journey. It wasn’t easy, and they suffered greatly at times, but now it is done and they all have a huge sense of satisfaction over having  reached their goal.

Once they do leave the Antarctic, there will be just one team remaining. Kite-skiers Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour have now been out on the ice for 70 days and are still going strong. Today they have established a new record for covering the most distance on a non-motorized, unsupported expedition across Antarctic. Dixie and Sam have now traveled 4829km (3000 miles), and they aren’t done yet. They plan to keep skiing for a few more weeks, well into February, before calling it quits and heading home. That means they not only meant to break the record (set by Norwegian Rune Gjeldnes in 2006), they want to set a new one that will be almost completely out of reach. Considering they’re knocking off more than 100km (62 miles) per day, that shouldn’t be a problem for them.

I’ll continue to post updates on Dixie and Sam’s progress until they’re done. The season is almost over, but they intend to drag it out for a bit longer.

Kraig Becker