Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Antarctica 2015: Running Out of Time

Following the sad news of the passing of Henry Worsley yesterday, there are still two teams out on the ice in the Antarctic, struggling to reach their respective finish lines. But the clock is most definitely ticking as the season grinds to a halt later this week. The last flight out is scheduled for Thursday – weather permitting of course. But depending on conditions, that deadline could get extended, although once this weather window closes, it doesn't open again for 10 months.

At the Union Glacier camp the staff and crew are busy packing up and preparing to leave the Antarctic once again. It has been another long and challenging season as they support the teams out on the ice, and no doubt more than a few of them are feeling the loss of Henry. But they are also a very professional team, and they know that there is a job to do before they head home once again.

South Pole skier Emma Kelty is still trudging ahead, slowly but surely making her way towards her goal. She's running a bit behind schedule, and feeling the pinch of time slipping away, but is also doing her best to reach 90ºS before the season runs out. As of her most recent update, posted on Friday of last week, she still had two degrees to cover before she reaches her goal. That equates to 222 km (138 miles) which is an awful long way to cover with such little time left on the clock. Personally, I'm not sure how she gets it done before the deadline, but we'll watch closely and hope for the best.

At the end of last week she not only received a resupply, complete with all kinds of goodies to help get her to the finish line, but she is now skiing with a new guide too. Apparently her pervious guide – Carl Alvy – had to depart Antarctica, so a new guide – named Patchi – has stepped in to take his place. The duo are now pushing hard to reach the finish line, and we'll just have to wait to see if they make it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere Devon McDiarmid and Stew Edge arrived back at Union Glacier earlier today. You may recall, the two men skied to the South Pole along with Mostafa Salameh, and Shahrom Abdullah, reaching that point back on January 17. While their companions hopped a flight back home, Dev and Stew used kites to travel back to their starting point. Their final push was an 18-hour day that ended with their arrival at the ice camp, which means they managed to ski the full distance back in less than 9 days. That's pretty impressive to say the least. They'll now get a few days rest before flying out to Punta Arenas, Chile.

As you can see, the 2015 Antarctic season is quickly coming to an end. In another day or two things will be wrapping up for the season, with everyone heading home. Hopefully Emma gets a chance at reaching the South Pole. She's worked very hard to get there, but time is definitely no on her side.

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