In my update to the start of the Antarctic season that I posted yesterday I noted that the first flight of the year was scheduled to land at Union Glacier, delivering supplies and the first explorers to hit the ice. Amongst them was Henry Worsley, who is about to launch his 80-day traverse of the continent. In his dispatch prior to catching his plane, Worsley indicated that there was someone special onboard the flight, but that we'd have to wait until today to find out who it was. Turns out, it was David Beckham, who is on a quest to play soccer on each of the seven continents.
According to reports, Beckham is undertaking this globetrotting effort in order to raise funds for UNICEF. So far, he has managed to kick the ball around on Papua New Guinea, Djibouti, Miami, and Buenos Aires, checking Asia, Africa, North America, and South America from his list. Antarctica was the fifth continent in this project, with Australia and Europe yet to go.
Becks didn't stay long on the frozen continent however, as he reportedly caught the return flight to Punta Arenas immediately after playing the game. He's now safely back in Chile, and no doubt planning his next game, presumably in Australia.
Meanwhile, Worsley had hoped to fly out to his starting point yesterday so he could finally begin his expedition. He has seen a number of delays due to weather, and once again conditions have helped to keep him from starting. He is currently waiting it out at Union Glacier where the temperature is a balmy 16ºF/-9ºC. Conditions are expected to improve today however, so he should fly to Berkner Island to begin his journey.
If the weather window remains open long enough, we could see another flight to Union Glacier today. There are more skiers preparing to set out for the South Pole, and some have been backed up due to the delays. For now though, it is enough to know that the season has started at long last.
More to come soon.