A week ago I posted what I thought would be my final Antarctica update for the season that has just passed. After all, the skiers had all reached the South Pole and the climbers were off of Vinson and the other peaks, and were waiting for a lift back to Punta Arenas. At the time, bad weather, not to mention civl unrest in Chile, were preventing the explorers from heading home, but it seemed like all of that would be resolved shortly. Turns out, a week later, their still stranded and Union Glacier and waiting for a lift back to civilization.
Jake Norton posted an update to the Born Out There Blog today updating us on the progress, or lack there of, for the First Ascent Team. It seems that since we last checked in with them they've simply continued to hang out at the Union Glacier base with nothing much else to do. The bad weather in Antarctica has prevented ALE's big Ilyushin aircraft from coming to pick them up, so has Jake says:
"So, we sit. We wait. We play cards, we laugh, we go out for a climb, a ski, something to pass the time and keep our minds off loved ones and family far, far away. It could be worse, much worse, so there are no complaints."Similarly, Willem ter Horst and Hannah McKeand are all still at Union Glacier and hoping to get a lift out soon. Willem posted an update a few days back saying that ALE was scrambling to get different aircraft into place to get the evacuation process underway, but a seat on those aircraft cost $14,500! Despite the high cost however, the two flights sold out quickly, proving just how badly some people want to get out of Antarctica at the moment.
It seems that patience is a virtue on the frozen continent at the moment. Some of these adventurers have now been stranded at Union Glacier for nearly two weeks, and with fresh snow falling today, it could easily be a few more days before they get back to Punta, let alone home. After all this time, I'm sure they miss their friends and family deeply. Lets keep our fingers crossed that they can come home soon.