Antarctica 2016: Mike Horn Begins Antarctic Crossing

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The Antarctic season continues to move forward with most of the teams now out on the ice and making their way towards the South Pole. It has been another busy week on the frozen continent, where challenges continue to abound. But, most of the skiers have now found their stride and are making their way toward their various goals.

We’ll start today with an update on Swiss explorer Mike Horn, who is about to begin the Antarctic stage of his Pole 2 Pole journey. His ship, the Pangea, has been anchored off the coast for a few days now, but an update this morning indicates that Horn is now ready to get underway. His plan is to ski to the South Pole and then continue on to the far side of the continent, where Pangea will pick him up once again. Horn is hoping to eventually circumnavigate the globe via both Poles, something that has only been done once previously. For now though, he’ll concentrate on heading to 90ºS first.

Meanwhile, the six-man British Military squad continues to press forward. Last week they passed the half-way mark of their journey to the Pole, as they continue their long, slow slog up to the the Polar Plateau. The South Pole is located at an altitude of 9000 feet (2743 meters), and the team is currently at 6100 feet (1859 meters), but making steady progress upwards. Once they reach the top of the plateau, things will get a bit easier, but for now they are focusing on putting one skin in front of the other. The weather has taken a bit of a turn for the worse, but after 28 days out on the ice – without a single rest day – they remain in good spirits and are as committed to reaching their goal as ever, despite the fact that they have all run out of music on their various electronic devices.

Emma Kelty is starting to feel the strain of the travel. Physically she’s feeling fine, but there is a major deadline looming for her. On Sunday, she reached the halfway point of her journey to the Pole, and she now finds that she must reach 90ºS by December 31, or risk not being able to complete the return journey as she had originally planned. She, along with several other skiers, faced a 2+ week delay in getting out of Punta Arenas at the start of the expedition, which has now tightened up the schedule significantly. She’ll continue to press on as quickly as she can and hope for the best. With two weeks to go however, it’s going to be close. And if she does intend to ski back to Hercules, she’ll need to not burn up all of her energy on the first leg of the trip.

Johanna Davidsson is celebrated her birthday out on the ice yesterday with lots of congratulatory messages and satellite phone calls. While that was indeed a time for celebration, she has lots of work to get done yet as well. She continues to cover solid distances every day, and is now on pace to reach the Pole before Christmas provided everything goes according to schedule. 

Canadian Sébastien Lapierre is also making great time, making steady progress towards the Pole, as is Risto Halliainen, who has now crossed the 85th degree and is halfway to the bottom of the world as well. Both are on pace to wrap up their expeditions on schedule. 
Finally, there has been no substantial update on Italian explorer Michele Pontrandolfo’s progress in days. He has been attempting to kite-ski to the South Pole starting from the Novo station, but it has been a couple of weeks since he posted a progress report. The same thing happened last year, when he was forced to abandon his attempt, so hopefully he’s making progress but hasn’t had a chance to share his location, or perhaps he’s suffered an equipment failure and isn’t able to post as often as he’d like right now. We’ll just have to wait to see how things go once he has a chance to share his position.
That’s it for now. More updates as the skiers close in on the Pole. 
Kraig Becker