Monday, January 18, 2016

Antarctica 2015: Another Team at the Pole, Worsley Heads Downhill at Last

It has been another couple of busy days in Antarctica, where the remaining teams continue to press ahead with their expeditions. For one squad, this weekend marked the end of the line, while others soldier on with the end of the season starting to loom.

The four-person team of Devon McDiarmid, Stew Edge, Mostafa Salameh, and Shahrom Abdullah completed their journey to the South Pole yesterday.  It took them a total of 50 days to cross Antarctica along the Messner Route. The squad was one of the last to start this year, but once they found their rhythm they managed to make solid time and wrapped up the journey with plenty of time to catch the last flight off the frozen continent next week.

For Salameh completing the expedition was especially sweet. Not only is he now the first Jordanian to summit Everest, he's also the first to ski to the South Pole as well. Congratulations to Mostafa and the entire team on a job well done.

Elsewhere, skier Emma Kelty and guide Carl Alvy have started to pick up speed. The duo are reportedly in good spirits and are feeling great physically too. They're now skiing nine hours a day to make up some time, and have managed to cross  their most recent degree in just four days time. If they can keep up that pace, they have a good shot of reaching the Pole before the January 28 deadline. Hight winds and whiteout conditions aren't going to make it easy on them however, although the clock is the real enemy at the moment.

For Brit Henry Worsley it is quite literally all downhill from here. The solo-skier making the first unsupported traverse of the continent crested the Titan Dome last week, and has at long last started do descend towards the Shackleton Glacier and the Ross Iceshelf. That doesn't mean things have gotten easy however, as today he reports that soft snow is making it tough to make progress.

Henry has now been out on the ice for 66 days, and still has 228 km (142 miles) to go until he reaches the end of his journey. In order to get to the finish line on time, he needs to ski a minimum of 25 km (16 miles) per day, which is incredibly tough after already pushing his body to the limit for more than two months. Still, he is skiing longer hours every day in order to achieve his goal and at the moment it looks like he should be able to finish on time however, it jus isn't going to be very easy.

Finally, there have been no updates on the location of Doug Tumminello and Luke Robertson, but presumably they are either back in Union Glacier or have flown to Punta Arenas to begin the journey home. Doug put an end to his expedition after 35 days when he reached Thiels Corner, but Luke completed his solo-crossing of Antarctica late last week, reaching the South Pole in 39 days. Both should be on already off the continent or departing soon, but it is unclear where they are at right now.

As you can see, the number of teams still out on the ice is diminishing rapidly. We'll wrap up another season next week. But until then, I'll continue to keep any eye on the progress of the remaining skiers and share news as it it warranted.

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