Antarctica 2013: Expedition Updates!

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After a holiday hiatus, it is time to get back to work and caught up on everything going on in the world of adventure. That starts with checking in on the happenings in the Antarctic, where despite the holidays the teams have remained busy, including some reaching the South Pole at long last.

Chief amongst those reaching the Pole were the Scott Expedition, which arrived at 90ºS on December 26. That was the culmination of more 63 days out on the ice and was a major milestone for Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere. But, if you’ve been following their journey you already know that the South Pole was only the halfway point of the expedition. The have now made the turn and are headed back towards the coast, which will be their ultimate finish line. With that in mind, they are taking a rest day today and are still looking at another 770 miles (1239 km) to go before they are done. With the clock starting to tick on the current Antarctic season, they still have a long way to go as time begins to run short. Fortunately, the return trip should be faster and easier.

Also arriving at the South Pole was Aussie Geoff Wilson. He has been kite skiing to the bottom of the world for weeks now, and even though he arrived bruised and battered, he has also started his return journey. The winds will be more favorable on the way back to the coast as well, which should make that portion of the expedition much quicker. Still, Geoff has taken his share of lumps on the expedition so far, and he’s not done just yet either.

Richard Parks is nearing 90ºS as well and should arrive possibly as early as today or tomorrow. There hasn’t been an update from him in a few days now, but based on his average distances covered, he should be quite close. His opportunity to break the speed record for skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole has come and gone, but he is still putting in a tremendous effort as he nears the end of the expedition. It appears that he’ll finish up in roughly 30 days, which is impressive to say the least.

As of yesterday, Lewis Clarke still had 269 miles (432 km) to cover in his bid to become the youngest person to ever ski to the South Pole. In recent days that has become all the more challenging thanks to the endless amount of sastrugi that are covering the ice. It has been a tough slog thus far and the challenges of the journey have taken their toll, but the 16-year old remains determined to reach the finish line and set the new record. That looks like it is still a couple weeks off however.

Antarctic mountain biker Daniel Burton continues to push forward in his quest to become the first to ride the full distance to the South Pole. In an effort to pick up the pace some, he has dropped extra gear and supplies and now looks to cover an average of 20 miles (32 km) per day. Adding in three rest days to the schedule, Daniel now estimates he’ll reach the South Pole around the 20th of January. That is nearly three more weeks of hard riding before he is done. That date will also start to get close to the end of the season as well.

Finally, Chris and Marty Fagan continue their push towards the South Pole. The husband and wife team are now 206 miles out from their finish line, with the two endurance athletes making solid progress on a daily basis. They are dealing with more sastrugi as they near the end as well, but seem to be taking these challenges in stride and are moving forward with a positive attitude. At their current pace, they’ll probably wrap up their expedition around the middle of the month.

That’s all for today. I’ll post more updates tomorrow and as news breaks.

Kraig Becker