Another week has passed for the South Pole skiers heading across the Antarctic this season. As usual, they face a variety of challenges on their way to the bottom of the world, not the least of which is the weather. But everyone who is currently on the ice is pushing ahead nicely and making steady progress towards their various goals.
We’ll start with an update from the six-man British military team that has been skiing for nearly two weeks now. Yesterday they reported “horrendous” conditions as high winds made forward progress, and visibility, very difficult. The winds roared at 40-50 knots (46-57 mph), which caused temperatures to plunge and sap their strength. Add in some very difficult sastrugi to the surface, and it tallied up to an incredibly rough day. Fortunately, things improved today and they were able to knock off a solid 13.6 nautical miles (25 km/15.5 miles) as conditions improved. They also managed to cross the 82nd degree as well, which means they still have 8 more degrees to go before they’re done, but they are slowly but surely moving ahead.
In contrast, Emma Kelty reports great weather over the past few days, allowing her to start to get a rhythm on her ski expedition to the South Pole. She says that the sastrugi are making it tough on the legs at the moment, but they are just part of the challenge that anyone traveling in the Antarctic faces. She did have a brief scare in which she thought her back-up stove had stopped working, but thankfully she was able to make repairs and get it operational again. As you may recall, she had a problem with the fuel for her stove early on, which requires a supply drop. That cost her the “solo and unsupported” status she was hoping for, but she continues to forge ahead nonetheless.
Johanna Davidsson has certainly gotten up to speed quickly. She’s now been out on the ice for 12 days, and managed to cover 27.7 km (17.2 miles) yesterday. That’s a solid pace for this early in the expedition, as most skiers pick up steam as they get closer to their goal. This is in part due to their bodies getting more acclimated to the daily grind, and because their sleds start to get lighter too. But Johanna seems to be cranking out the distances now and is looking very good out on the ice.
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