Friday, November 16, 2012

Antarctica 2012 Update: Aaron Can't Catch A Break

I've been following Aaron Linsdau's progress in Antarctica very closely since he got underway two weeks ago, and it is regularly been my lead story in these Antarctic updates. For those who haven't been following so far, Aaron is hoping to become the first American to ski solo and unsupported from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and back. Something that has only been done by three other people. In order to cover the 1400+ miles (2250 km) that this journey will cover, he arrived in the Antarctic plenty early. But unfortunately nothing has gone his way and he is barely making any progress at all, something that continues to be evident on his almost daily dispatches.

To give you an idea of just how tough the expedition is thus far, you need only look to yesterday's dispatch in which Aaron says that he managed to cover just 1.5 nautical miles (2.7 km) in 5.5 hours of walking. Part of that was due to the incessant 40-50 knot winds and the continued poor surface conditions. Because the ground he is walking on is mostly hard ice and not snow, he hasn't been using his skis as much as he would like. Those conditions have also made it difficult to walk, or even stand, at times and when you're dragging a 300 pound (136 kg) sled behind you, it begins to take its toll after awhile.

Aaron also reports that his climb up to the Antarctic plateau has gotten much steepr, which won't help matters either. Any polar explorer will tell you that is a long tough slog to the top, but once it is finished, the run to the South Pole itself actually gets a bit easier. At the moment, I think Aaron would appreciate anything that helps him move faster, but he has a long climb ahead of him before that happens.
As I've mentioned over the past few updates, the weather has been absolutely terrible in the Antarctic as well, and Aaron seems to be taking the brunt of that too. High winds, whiteouts and blizzards have all conspired against him and slowed his pace to a crawl. Considering how slow his first two weeks have been, I'm not sure at this point how he can make up the mileage and complete this round-trip journey. He'll definitely have a lot of miles to make up once things improve. 

I've been following Antarctic expeditions for a number of years now and I can tell you that I'm agonizing along with Aaron every time he posts a new dispatch. It is not uncommon for progress to be slow at the start of an expedition such as this one, but this is just so much worse than we would normally expect. If it is hard for us to read this progress reports from a safe and warm location, I can only imagine how bad Aaron must feel while exhausted in a tent at the bottom of the world. 

Lets hope things get better for him soon. He seems like he really wants to complete this journey, but Mother Nature isn't going to give it up easy. 

1 comment:

Mujeeb Ullah Khan said...

Remind me of K2