It seems that the 2016 Antarctic season is the one that never ends. On more than one occasion when I’ve posted updates recently I’ve said that the end is in sight. But, there is still one man out on the ice, and he is struggling to reach the finish line, where he won’t find his lift off the frozen continent waiting for him after all.
Swedish explorer Mike Horn is the lone skier still making his way across the Antarctic. As you probably recall, Horn is in the midst of making a traverse of the continent via the South Pole using kite skis. He has completed nearly the entire journey, but hasn’t quite reached the far side of the Antarctic just yet. But when he does, his time on the ice won’t quite be over as he had expected.
While all of the other South Pole skiers have received outside assistance from a logistics company like ALE, Horn was dropped off on the coastline by his own ship, the Pangaea, which then planned to sail to the far side of the continent and wait for him. In fact, the ship was in place just last week, waiting for Mike to wrap up his traverse, which was hampered by either a lack of winds or whiteout conditions. But according to Mike, the Pangaea suffered an electrical failure and was forced to sail for Tasmania for repairs. That means that when he does arrive back at the coast in another day or two, the ship won’t be there waiting for him after all.
Progress over the past week or so has been slow. Some days, all Horn can do is sit in place as the weather howls around him. The winds have been so rough that they have torn one of his kites – which he has since repaired – and left him unable to proceed. He hasn’t posted an update since Sunday, but the online tracker on his website shows progress and it seems that Mike is now just a short distance from the coast. How long he’ll have to wait for a pick-up remains to be seen however.
The austral winter is now starting to close in, and conditions will soon take a turn for the worse. Horn should still have time to get off the continent, and he is nearly at the coast. But, temperatures will be dropping dramatically in the days ahead and the storms will only become more powerful. Hopefully he won’t have to wait too long for his ride.
We’ll keep an eye on things and watch how the last few days of his expedition develop. Hopefully he’ll be safely retrieved from the ice soon. For now though, he is safe and pressing forward as planned.