Friday, December 18, 2015

Antarctica 2015: Rest Day For Henry Worsley, Change in Route for One Skier

It has been another very long week for the Antarctic skiers. With all of the teams now out on the ice, and making their way to the South Pole, it was a time to simply focus on covering plenty of miles and making progress towards their goal. That was never easy though, as weather conditions continue to cause issues for just about everyone.

We'll start with an update on Brit Henry Worsley, who has now been skiing for 35 very long days with an awful long way yet to go before he is done. Today, Henry awoke to a bad stomach ache and weak physical condition. He tried to break camp and hit the trail despite not feeling well, but after ten minutes of effort, he decided it was best to stay in the tent instead. The rest day was much needed after battling the elements for more than a month, but he'll have to try to make up the mileage in the days ahead. Worsley now hopes to reach the Pole before New Year, which would give him approximately three and a half weeks to ski to his finishing point on the Shackleton Glacier. That is hardly assured at this point, but he is pressing ahead as best he can.

Italian kite-skier Michele Pontrandolfo has announced a change in route for his expedition. He had originally planned to ski to the Pole of Inaccessibility, but since he has had such difficulty catching the wind since his arrival on November 19, he has decided to forego that leg of his journey, and instead head straight to the Geographic South Pole instead. From there, he hopes to continue his traverse by skiing to Hercules Inlet.


Elsewhere, the international squad of Devon McDiarmid, Stew Edge, Mostafa Salameh, and Shahdom Abdullah are now a week into their expedition to the South Pole, and are still struggling to find their rhythm. Yesterday they skied in whiteout conditions for the entire time. Mostafa says that when the blizzard arrived overnight he couldn't sleep at all until he put some earplugs in. That helped to a degree, but skiing for eight hours in a sea of white frays the nerves and makes for a difficult day. He reports that everyone is in good spirits however, although they have already started to lose weight.

American solo-skier Doug Tumminello continues to press on towards the South Pole, although it has been far from easy. Almost since the beginning he has suffered from sore feat due to nasty blisters, but now that he has solved that issue, he's been dealing with whiteout conditions over the past few days. That has made progress tough, but he has managed to cross the 81st degree. With nine more still to go however, he didn't take any time to celebrate the accomplishment.

Scottish skier Luke Robertson is also caught in the whiteout. He reports poor conditions for the past few days, including heavy snowfall. Fresh snow is troublesome for the skiers, as it make it much harder to pull their sleds. The packed, icy surface is much better for covering distances.

Finally, Emma Kelty, traveling with guide Carl Alvy, is also experiencing whiteouts. She says that skiing by compass can be incredibly disorienting, even throwing the balance off. But they continue to make good progress, knocking off 9.34 nautical miles (17.3 km/10.75 miles) in just 6 hours of skiing. That is a great pace, and should have the team at the Pole in no time if they manage to get some good weather along the way.

That's all for today's update. We'll check in with the skiers next week to see how they are progressing.

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