Antarctica 2012: Sick At The Bottom Of The World

Yesterday I posted an update from Antarctica with the news that a couple of the skiers were closing in on the finish line. Today we find out that one of those skiers didn’t make an progress at all, while the other continued to struggle across the ice. Meanwhile, a third skier arrived at the Pole a few days back and shares his stories of struggles out on the ice.

Today we’ll once again start with an update on Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir, the Icelandic solo-skier who should have arrived at the South Pole tomorrow. Turns out she wasn’t able to even get out of her tent yesterday as she woke up in the morning completely sick and unable to keep food down. That kept her from making any progress and has now delayed her arrival at 90ºS.

Assuming she is feeling better today and has resumed her journey, we can now expect her to finish up the expedition on Thursday. Considering she has now been out on the ice for 58 days, and is suffering from some kind of illness, I think it safe to say that Vilborg is eager to complete her journey and head home at last. I can’t even imagine how lonely it must feel to be stuck in a tent at the bottom of the world, too sick to move on and simply just wanting to go home. Lets hope she feels better and can wrap things up soon.

Meanwhile, Aaron Linsdau continues his long, slow march to the finish as well. He had hoped to have put the difficult surface conditions behind him but ran into another patch of sastrugi today, slowing him down once again. Aaron knocked off 8 more miles (12.8 km) today and still has roughly 53 miles (85 km) to go before reaching the end. In today’s audio dispatch he talks about adjusting his compass declination so that he stays on point and any polar explorer will tell you how important that can be as you edge closer to 90º north or south.

Aaron also mentioned how he withdrew into himself as he skied, thinking about friends and family that he is  missing and reminiscing about other places that he has visited in his travels. He has now been on this expedition for 74 days and it is safe to say that it has taken its toll on him as well. Almost from the start, nothing has quite gone his way and the daily distances covered have been shorter and harder than he would have liked. At this point, Vilborg isn’t the only one feeling homesick and I’m sure no one will be happier to reach the South Pole than Aaron.

28-days into his South Pole expedition and Richard Parks is starting to feel the strain of travel as well. Early on, his journey was going well and he was routinely knocking off 30+ km (18+ miles) per day, but the past few days have become decidedly more challenging. Richard has crossed into the 87th degree and is now encountering the really tough sastrugi that have been a major challenge for the other skiers this season too. Those tough conditions have slowed him considerably and have physically drained him too. Add in a strong wind to the face and temperatures that continue to plummet and it wasn’t a very good day at all. He managed just 17.2 km (10 miles) and was physically spent when he crawled into the tent, completely exhausted by his labors. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Finally, ExWeb has post an interview with German solo skier Roland Krueger who completed his expedition to the South Pole on January 12. Roland skied to 90ºS from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf from the Messner Start, covering 890 km (553 miles) in 50 days. In the interview, he talks about staying motivated, what gear he used, how he trained and more. He also talks about running into extremely bad sastrugi, sometimes taller than himself, which made for a very difficult expedition. It seems that sastrugi are definitely the bane of South Pole skiers existence this year.

Kraig Becker