Antarctica 2012 Update: Aaron Struggles, Babes Near The End

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The 2012 Antarctic season may still be ramping up for some, but for those that are already underway the past few days have brought some significant milestones. As always, the weather continues to be of concern, but that hasn’t stopped Aaron Linsdau from forging ahead as best he can or the Baffin Babes from nearing the completion of their expedition.

On the Antarctic continent itself, Linsdau continues to struggle. The ground remains frozen solid, which means it isn’t suitable for skiing. As a result, Aaron has had to walk to make any progress at all, which isn’t easy when you’re lugging a 300 pound (136 Kg) sled behind you at all times. On top of that, he has faced fierce winds that have slowed progress as well and caused temperatures to drop into the -40ºF/C range. So far he’s averaging about 3 nautical miles per day (5.5 km) and that is putting him into a milage deficit that he’ll have to make up in the future. In his most recent dispatch, Lindsau indicated that he tried to ski some yesterday and while that brought the added benefit of warming him up considerably, the energy he was expending was too great for the distance he was covering. He needs to find some fresh powder in order to glide more effortlessly. Perhaps most distressing of all is how cold his hands and fingers have been over the past few days. By the sounds of things he’ll have to be careful not to get frostbite as that could bring an early end to his expedition.

Elsewhere, things are going far better for the Baffin Babes on South Georgia Island. They’ve been there for several weeks now as they’ve been making a crossing of that remote and beautiful place. Yesterday the posted an update to their Facebook page that indicates that they are nearing the end of their expedition. The brief posting said that it was their “10th and maybe last update from the South Georgia” where they’ve found an abundance of wildlife at every turn.

While the Babes prepare to wrap up their expedition, the team that is preparing to cross the Northern Patagonia Icecap is finally getting underway. After spending more than a week getting to their launching point, then shuttling gear and supplies to the glacier itself, they were able to step into their skis at last yesterday and start the crossing. Their weather actually took a turn for the better, with the incessant rain letting up after ten days of downpours. That means that both the team, and their gear, were soaked through-and-through, but everyone was happy to be on the move at last.

The Lake Ellsworth research team was hoping to fly out to the Rothera Science Station today but they’re plane is grounded in Punta Arenas due to high winds and snows at the base. They’ll try again as soon as a weather window opens, but for now they are on stand-by.

Also preparing to go to the Antarctic is Richard Parks, who will be making a solo and unsupported ski expedition from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. Last year, Parks completed his 737 Challenge, in which he went to both the North and South Pole, and climbed all Seven Summits, in a seven month period. In order to accomplish that feat however, he had to do a “last degree” expedition to the South Pole. This year, he’s heading back to do the full route. At the moment he is testing and prepping his gear for what he expects to be 35-40 day journey. This Antarctic expedition will also serve as a proving ground for his secret “Project X” expedition, which will take place in 2014. Stay tuned for more on that.

That’s all for today. I’ll post more updates as things get rolling.

Kraig Becker