Antarctica 2014: Frédérick on the Move, POI Still Out of Reach

Just another quick update from the Antarctic today, where Frédérick Dion continues to struggle on his final approach to the Pole of Inaccessibility. After 31 days on the ice, he is now just 65 km (40 miles) from his goal, but those final kilometers are proving to be the most difficult of all.

Because he is kite-skiing to the POI, Fréd generally made very good time in the early days of the expedition, sometimes covering more than 100 km (62 miles) in a single day. But as he neared the end point of the journey, the winds have either turned against him, or been completely non-existent. For the past week, he has been able to make hardly any headway at all, although on Wednesday he was able to kite for about a half day, making some progress at last.

In yesterday’s Antarctic update I mentioned that it was a bit unusual for a polar explorer to simply sit and wait for the winds to return. Most would pack their kite away, and continue under their own power, covering as much distance as they could while pulling their pulk full of gear behind them as they go.

Apparently, Frédérick isn’t particularly fond of cross country skiing, as is mentioned in his most recent dispatch. He finds it tedious, difficult work, and even back home in Canada it is not one of his favorite activities. Never the less, yesterday he decided to give it a go, and managed to cover about 18 km (11 miles), inching him ever closer to the Pole of Inaccessibility.

Unfortunately for Fréd, the weather forecasts don’t bode well for fast progress to the POI. It appears that the winds will remain calm over the next few days, which means if he wants to continue to make progress, he’ll probably have to resort to skiing instead. At the moment, it doesn’t appear that he’ll wrap up the expedition this weekend, although if the winds to shift in his favor, that could change.

For those unfamiliar with the Pole of Inaccessibility, it is a the point that is located the furthest from the coastline on the Antarctic continent. In this case, that point falls at about 82º06’S, 54º58’E, which is approximately 878 km (546 miles) from the Geographic South Pole. The POI is considered one of the most remote places on the planet, and if he is successful, Frédérick will be the first person to kite-ski to that destination solo and unsupported.

But first he has to get there, and at this point it is tough to say when that will happen. Eventually the winds will turn in his favor, and he’ll wrap up these remaining miles very quickly. I’ll post an update when he does.

Kraig Becker