Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Antarctica 2016: More Teams Arrive on the Ice

Yesterday I posted an update from Antartica that shared the progress of the teams that are already out on the ice and making their way toward the South Pole. Those skiers were amongst the first to reach the frozen continent this year, and are now squarely focused on making their way to 90ºS as quickly as possible. But, they aren't the only people who are making that journey this season. In fact, there have been a few newcomers with some interesting stories that have just joined them.

One of the big expeditions to watch this year is from Finnish skier Risto Hallikainen. He intends to ski 2260 km (1404 miles) making the journey from Hercules Inlet to the Pole and back again. Because of a series of delays to his start due to the weather, Risto is now pushing hard to make up for lost time, and as ExWeb reports he even dropped a supply cache for the return trip, even though he hadn't originally planned to do that. This allows him to lighten the load on his sled now, and ensures that he'll still have food, fuel, and other supplies on his way back to his starting point. While he hasn't shared many updates so far, Risto has said that he is struggling with the humidity in his tent, which is making things a bit uncomfortable so far.

Experienced mountaineer and polar guide Ryan Waters is leading a team of three skiers the include Katrina Follows from the U.K., Paul Adams of the U.S., and Scott Kress from Canada. The squad is making good time so far, and are already nearing the 84th degree on their way to the Pole. They're also picking up speed as they climb up to the Antarctic Plateau, covering 11 nautical miles (20.3 km/12.6 miles) for the first time yesterday. When traveling with a group it is easier to make progress and cover longer distances as everyone takes turns breaking trail, and just having companionship can make a big difference.

Doug Stoup, another experienced Antarctic guide, has arrived at Union Glacier along with his client Aron Anderson, who is a Swedish adventurer who also happens to be an adaptive skier and para-Olympian. Anderson is attempting to become the first person to sit-ski to the South Pole in what is sure to be quite an inspiring expedition to watch unfold. The challenges will be many, but he and Doug are prepared to make the journey together. They should get underway today or tomorrow, weather permitting.

Finally, Canadian skier Sébastien Lapierre arrived at Union Glacier yesterday as well, and is now preparing to get underway with his solo, unsupported expedition to the South Pole. He reports that conditions are great and the landscape is beautiful as he prepares to depart for his ultimate goal at 90ºS.

We'll be watching the progress of these explorers in the days ahead as well as the season unfolds. There should be plenty of interesting stories to follow in the days and weeks ahead. Things are just getting started at the bottom of the world.

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