Antarctica 2013: More South Pole Arrivals!

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While I took a bit of a long weekend, the teams in Antarctica were busy steaming towards the finish line. As expected, several of those teams reached that mark over the past few days, while others continue to struggle towards their own respective goals. The end of the season is in sight, and soon there will be just one last team battling the elements. The team that started the season will also be the one to end it.

The big news over the weekend is that Lewis Clarke, along with guide Carl Alvey, has reached 90ºS. It took him 48 days to get there, but upon his arrival he achieved his goal of becoming the youngest person to ever ski the full distance to the South Pole. The 16-year old is already on his way back to civilization, and has even booked a speaking engagement in the U.K. for next weekend. That’s a pretty ambitious schedule, but I guess he can sleep on the long plane rides he has ahead.

Also reaching 90ºS on Saturday was Chris and Marty Fagan, who limped into the finish line with hardly andy rations to spare. They enjoyed a little quite time at the South Pole station before flying to Union Glacier yesterday with the intention of returning to Chile today. Their journey took 47 days to complete, with the husband and wife team celebrating their achievement together.

Congratulations to these latest explorers to reach the Pole. It is a great accomplishment and an inspiration for those of us who have been following their progress over the past couple of months.

Still out on the ice, is South Pole cyclist Daniel Burton. Daniel is slowly but surely closing in on 90ºS as well, but his last stage of the journey hasn’t been an easy one. In addition to wandering off course, both on purpose and unintentionally, he had run out of food until Antarctic legend Hannah McKeand appeared out of nowhere to bring him a resupply. Hannah works for ALE and was sent out to make sure Daniel had enough food to see him to the finish line. As of yesterday, he had 20 miles yet to go to reach that point, and his intention was to ride straight through to the end today. He says his next update will be from the South Pole, so hopefully we’ll receive news of his successful arrival soon.

Finally, Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere, collectively making up the Scott Expedition, continue to make progress. The duo have now left the Beardmore Glacier behind and have returned to the Ross Ice Shelf. They had hoped that by reaching shelf that things would begin to pick up for them, but they immediately found themselves in a nasty crevasse field, which made for tough (and slow!) going for awhile. After 88 days out on the ice, the boys are ready to be done and headed home. Unfortunately, they still have 418 miles (672 km) to go before they are finished. That’s the equivalent of another couple of weeks of travel, which has to be a difficult proposition after nearly three months on the ice.

To help cheer the lads up, Prince Harry, who recently skied to the South Pole as well, sent them an encouraging message. That will certainly help lift their spirits as the press on. It won’t be too much longer and they’ll be the lone team still in the Antarctic. I’m sure Ben and Tarka will relish their “first to arrive, last to leave” status.

That’s all for now. I’ll post more updates as we get news on Daniel Burton’s finish and other developments in the Antarctic season that is about to end.

Kraig Becker