Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Antarctica 2012: Who Welcomes The Skiers At The Pole?

Over the past few months we've diligently followed a number of skiers who have traveled hundreds of miles to reach the South Pole. Along the way, we've shared in their triumphs and agonized with their struggles, cheering them on from the comfort of our warm homes. But have you ever wondered what it is like for them when they arrive at their final destination? Ever wondered who it that greets them when they actually reach 90ºS?

If so, then let me introduce you to Jeffrey Donenfeld, a freelance photographer, blogger and adventurer who is currently living at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Jeffrey has been witnessing the arrival of all of the ski expeditions this year and taking some photos of them when they get to the Pole. Last week he posted news of the arrival of Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir and shared some photos of her wrapping up her expedition, and yesterday he did the same for Aaron Linsdau. The photo accompanying this post was taken of Aaron by Jeffrey when he stood at 90ºS.

Our intrepid South Pole blogger repors that Aaron was indeed picked up by a Twin Otter aircraft today and is en route back to the Union Glacier camp. He'll likely be there for a day or two before hopping an ALE flight back to Punta Arenas and then home to the States. According to Jeffrey, Aaron was in good spirits, physically in good shape and happy to be wrapping things up at last. The next flight back to Punta is scheduled for Sunday, January 27.

Similarly, Vilborg has caught her flight off the frozen continent and is now back in Chile. She is enjoying being back in civilization and all the luxuries that provides, including warm showers, clean sheets and plenty of good food. It sounds like she is enjoying some time in Punta Arenas before she heads home, but her spirits are good even though there is a sadness about the end of the expedition.
Finally, Richard Parks remains the one lone skier still out on the ice. He received his food drop today directly from the ALE staff, which removes his solo and unsupported tags from the expedition. But at this point, Richard doesn't seem to mind at all as he enjoys fresh potato ships and a can of coke in his tent.

The arrival of these supplies has reinvigorated the Brit who is now focused on covering the final 220 km (136 miles) in just six days. That means he's going to have to cover more than 36 km (22 miles) per day in order to make it on time. Thats a pretty tall order, but if the weather and ground conditions cooperate, he is capable of those kinds of distances. It won't be easy however, as there is still a long way to go.

I'll keep you posted on his progress and good luck to Richard in getting to the Pole on time!

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