It is shaping up to be another busy week in the Antarctic as the 2013 season really begins to ramp up. There are more teams en route to Punta Arenas, Chile where they’ll soon catch a flight to Union Glacier ahead of their Hercules Inlet start. Meanwhile, some of the teams that are already on the ice continue to struggle with progress.
First up, one of the more high profile South Pole expeditions that we’ve been keeping an eye on this year is Richard Parks’ attempt to break the speed record from Hercules to the Pole. He hopes to ski that distance in just 23 days but in order to do so, conditions are going to need to be just right. So, with that in mind, Richard hasn’t set out just yet. He’s at Hercules and waiting for a weather window to allow him to get underway. Despite being out on the ice for more than a week, Parks is being patient with his approach. Hopefully he’ll be able be able to launch his attempt soon.
The Scott Expedition is now more than three weeks into their journey to the South Pole following Robert Falcon Scott’s 1911-1912 route. They intend to make the round trip journey that Scott never could. So far Ben Saunders and Tarka L’ Herpiniere have been battling high winds and cold temperatures, but hey are starting to find a rhythm and are making solid progress despite their very heavy sleds. The past few days they’ve managed to cover in excess of 12 miles (19.3 km) each day, which may not sound like much but is good progress considering the conditions.
Joining these teams on the ice soon will be Lewis Clarke (I can’t make this stuff up folks!) who hopes to become the youngest person to ski solo to the South Pole at the age of 16. ExWeb has a good interview with the young man, who left for Chile yesterday and hopefully will be on a flight within a few days. It will be an impressive feat if someone so young and relatively inexperienced can manage to ski the full 700+ mile (1126 km) distance on his own.
Also setting out soon will be the husband and wife team of Chris and Marty Fagan, who left for Punta Arenas yesterday. These two endurance athletes intend to ski to the Pole in about 45 days and with a little luck, they too will be heading for the frozen continent soon.
Right now it is just a matter of weather that keeping these explorers from getting started with their expeditions. They’ll sort their gear and prepare their food as best they can over the next day or two, but the hard part will be staying patient while they wait for an opportunity to fly to the Union Glacier base. Regular flights have resumed, but the weather in Antarctica remains fickle, even at this time of the year. We’ll just have to wait to see when they can begin. Lets hope it is soon.
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