Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Antarctica 2013: Hurry Up And Wait

My reports on the 2013 Antarctic expedition season are starting to get very repetitive. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm sure by now most of the teams in Punta Arenas thought that they'd be out on the ice and working their way south, but the weather continues to be uncooperative, so they continue to sit and wait. To make things worse, the schedule for supply planes to the Union Glacier camp is now way behind schedule as well, which means the adventurers will have to wait their turn. There are some indications that flights could resume in the next few days, although that has been the story for more than a week now. 

Still sitting in Punta are Chris and Marty Fagan, Lewis Clarke, Daniel Burton, Antony Jinman and several others. Each plans to make the journey to the South Pole, but the first step is to actually get to the Antarctic continent. Daniel has also started to express some concern about the effect the weather will have on his attempt to ride his bike to the Pole. In a recent blog post he indicated that while his fat tire bike does well on hard snow and ice, it doesn't work so well in powder. The bad weather is dumping all kind of powder on his intended route, which could slow him down or cause him to not be able to ride at all. Only time will tell if this will become a major factor. 

Also still waiting to get started is Richard Parks. He is the man who hopes to set a new speed record for skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, and he to has been watching for a weather window to open. It has been more than a week since we heard anything out of him, but earlier today he posted a brief update saying that he was packed and ready to fly from Union Glacier to his starting point, but bad weather has once again grounded the plane. He hopes to get out tomorrow instead. 

Three teams that are now in position to begin their expedition are the members of the South Pole Allied Challenge. Team U.K., Team USA and Team Commonwealth all flew out to their starting points at 87ºS yesterday and they should begin their treks to the South Pole today. This race of sorts is part of he Walking With The Wounded organization and several servicemen and women who were injured while on active duty are with each of the teams. Despite starting much closer to the Pole than most of the other teams, it will still take them two weeks or so to complete the journey. 

Aussie Geoff Wilson has been caught out in the bad weather again and as a result, he has spent the past two days stuck in his tent. Raging winds, extremely cold temperatures and whiteout conditions have conspired against him, leaving him stranded. Geoff is attempt to kite ski to the South Pole but has only had a couple of good days so far. Hopefully this period of bad weather will lift soon and he'll get the opportunity to make some good time. 

Finally, Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere are now more than a month into their expedition and continue to knock off the mileage in workmen like fashion each day. The boys have found their stride it seems and are consistently covering 13-14 miles (20-22 km ) on a daily basis. That might not seem like much, but in the frozen Antarctic it is a full days work. As a result of those efforts, they have now covered approximately 300 miles (482 km) on their journey, which is a there and back again trip to the Pole and their starting point at Scott's Hut. While they still have a very long way to go, all is well and they are progressing as expected. 

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us here in the U.S., it is likely that I won't be able to update again until next week. Hopefully by then the weather will have cleared and more teams will be on their way to the South Pole. Stay tuned. 

No comments: