Friday, January 23, 2015

Antarctica 2014: Tough Going for Final Antarctic Team

As mentioned earlier in the week, the 2014 Antarctic season is swiftly drawing to an end. One team remains out on the ice, struggling to reach the finish line before the last plane prepares to fly out. Their deadline is now January 26, which is Monday, and covering the final miles over the next three days isn't going to be easy.

The team of Are Johnson and Stéphanie and Jérémie Gicquel have been out on the ice for 70 days now, and have long since reached the South Pole and began their return trip to Hercules Inlet along the coast. At this point, fatigue has set in and they are doing their best to cover the remaining distance as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the weather isn't being all that cooperative however, and yesterday they skied in white out conditions. In fact, in their most recent update, it was revealed that they couldn't see more than 3 metes in any direction at all. As a result, they struggled to cover their required distance, reaching 35 km (21.7 miles) over 11.5 hours, while battling sastrugi along the way too. 

Today doesn't look like it will be much better either. The trio expects to be skiing in a whiteout once again, and have prepared themselves for another tough go. Conditions are expected to improve however, so there is a literal light at the end of the tunnel.

Still, even with better weather, the last stretch is going to be a tough one. As of now, they have to average 43.5 km (27 miles) over the next four days to arrive back at Hercules in time. That isn't impossible, but it is going to be very difficult. To make matters worse, they are also starting to get low on food too, which will have an impact on the final stage of the journey as well. 

By the time they are finished, the team will have covered approximately 2300 km (1430 miles) and will have become one of only a handful of squad to make the journey to the South Pole and back under their own power. With any luck, the next time I post an update on their progress, they'll have finished. 

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