Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Antarctica 2014: Teams Gathering for First Flights

With the Antarctic expedition season poised to get underway in the next few days, teams are continuing to gather in Cape Town and Punta Arenas in preparation for the first flights out to the frozen continent. With storms hitting the Antarctic coasts at the moment, the first flight out of both locations are now scheduled to take place this weekend, officially launching the new season.

Once the weather clears, the planes will take to the air, and the first South Pole skiers will begin to hit the ice at last. Amongst them will be Stéphanie and Jérémie Gicquel, a pair of French adventurers who will be attempting to ski to the South Pole, and back to the coast, covering approximately 1800 km (1100 miles) in the process. They estimate that it will take them about 70 days to complete this journey, and for them every day is now precious.

Stéphanie and Jérémie arrived in Punta Arenas a few days back, and are now going through the final checklist for their gear, and getting everything packed for the start of their journey. Their flight out to the Antarctic should take place in the next few days, as they hope to get underway by November 9. Any weather delays could cause problems with their extended schedule however, and with so much distance to cover, they can't afford to much downtime. A few days delay won't have a big impact on their expedition, but if those delays should extend into a week or more – as we've seen in recent years – it could alter their plans significantly. Hopefully the weather will clear on schedule, and they'll be able start on time.

Meanwhile, our friends at EpicTV have launched a new video series centered around the Antarctic as well. It is entitled Katabatic, and it follows explorers Mike Libecki, Freddie Wilkinson, Cory Richards and Keith Ladzinski as they travel to the Wohlthat Mountain Range in Antarctica to attempt to summit some unclimbed peaks in that region. The first episode can be found below, and it gives you a great sense of what it is like to travel in the Antarctic this time of year. This should be a great series to follow, and I'm looking forward to seeing the next episodes.

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