After days of alternating whiteout and strong winds, South Pole teams have finally reported on good weather conditions. Live image over Contact 4.0 courtesy of Polar Quest (click to enlarge).
We are just half a degree away from that magical 85 degrees south, and that will be the half way point! We just can't wait to get there," reported the Kiwis. Image of Jamie showing his torn hat courtesy of Kiwis on Ice (click to enlarge).
"As there is no pollution out here, distances are deceiving," reported team n2i. "The mountains to the east and south looking relatively close at twenty miles are two or three times that distance - making us feel very small and damn frustrating when we are trying to reach them! Live image over Contact 4.0 of a team member setting off at evening, courtesy of team n2i (click to enlarge).
Duncan Chessell (second from the left) and his team mates Jacko, Peter and Rob are already in Punta Arenas, hoping to fly to the ice next Sunday. Live image of the team toasting to a successful expedition, courtesy of Centacare Antarctic Challenge/DCXP (click to enlarge).
The rekkie team finished putting our gear together and it is all on its way to the South Pole too, and we will follow it on Monday. Live image over Contact 4.0 of the team preparing to leave courtesy of ANSMET (click to enlarge).
Antarctic wrap-up: Weather finally improving

Posted: Dec 08, 2006 03:21 pm EST
(ThePoles.com) All SP teams agree: Things look much better under blue, sunny skies. "The whole day felt very calm and workmanlike, without any of the feeling of the last few days of being in a fierce, chilly battle," Hannah reports. John Wilton-Davies is following her tracks, each day a victory for the rookie skier, I've now completed 100 nm, 1/6 of the total."

Team n2i (headed for the Pole of Inaccessibility) are on painkillers and spotting colorful meteorites for astronaut Don while Vinson climbers are safe back in Patriot Hills.

SP teams

Hannah McKeand: A break in the battle

Things finally let up today, which was a great relief. The wind dropped to a much more bearable 5kts or so and by lunchtime the wicked sastrugi began to shrink to a more managable size. The whole day felt very calm and workmanlike, without any of the feeling of the last few days of being in a fierce, chilly battle. For the first time in days I was able to look about me a little and actually appreciate the beautiful landscape I am traveling across.

John Wilton-Davies: On Hannahs tracks

If you want one word to describe polar travel, it would be 'monotonous'. Yes, every day is virtually the same, with the weather being the main variable. However, yesterday saw great excitement. I came across another set of ski tracks. These would be from Hannah McKeand, who is travelling the same route as me with about a week's start.

Where the snow was compressed under her skis the wind is less able to erode it and so, after only a few days, her tracks were like raised railway lines, several inches higher than the surrounding ground.

I've now completed 100 nm, 1/6 of the total, and am averaging about 10 nm a day recently. I need to increase this as the sled gets lighter to about 12 nm a day. The problem is, I think I'm getting lighter quicker than the sled.

More excitement soon: Base camp has just given me a list of co-ordinates of crevasse fields coming up in my path.

Team n2i (Pole of inaccessibility) : Deceiving distances and colorful meteorites for astronaut Don

The going has been getting progressively easier with smaller sastrugi to cross and long gentle slopes working our way to the Somoveken glacier some 60km in the distance. We can see the jagged mountains either side of the glacier clearly. As there is no pollution out here, distances are deceiving. A ridge of snow seemingly a few hundred yards away is at least a mile. The mountains to the east and south looking relatively close at twenty miles are two or three times that distance - making us feel very small and damn frustrating when we are trying to reach them!

We suspect Rory has Been at the med bag again as he got all excited round 4am saying he had just seen a meteor surrounded by a yellow glow with a trail of blue flame streaking across the sky leaving a residue of steam. Those prescription pain killers must be good. Maybe Don the meteor hunting NASA astronaut should go and check it out.

Kiwis on Ice: half degree from half way point

Today was bright and sunny which was a big change from the last few days- and it was nice to have no risk of a white-out, reported Kevin. We are just half a degree away from that magical 85 degrees south, and that will be the half way point! We just can't wait to get there.

Polar Quest: Watching Thiels

I began the days proceedings at the rear of the pack, having led the last leg of the previous day, reported Craig. This was a very good position to be in given our new vista; the Thiels mountain range now opening up before us with each new step.

To trek for days on end seeing nothing but a frozen icy wilderness and then to witness a mountain range unfolding before ones eyes truly is breathtaking.

Vinson teams

DCXP Centacare: Team in Punta Arenas

Duncan Chessell and his team mates Jacko, Peter and Rob are already in Punta Arenas, hoping to fly to the ice next Sunday. The teams goal is to climb Vinson starting from sea level. The Australians will be flown from Patriot Hills to Hercules Inlet, from where they will ski and haul teir pulks 320 km across Ellsworth range glaciers to Vinson.

Swedes: Invading Amundsens tent!

Back in Patriot Hills again - a small jump back towards civilization again, reported Olof and Martin. Here ALE has rolled out the red carpet and, to some Norwegians dismay, given us the Amundsen tent to spend the night in.

In spite of all this luxury we are still keen on returning to the mainland and hope to fly out to Chile as soon as possible.

Research teams

ANSMET: Hoping to visit the South Pole

The systematic search team is safely at their Grosvenor Mountains camp site today, reported Barbara. There was only a slight problem, where 2 skidoos didn't make it, so they will have to wait at their put-in camp until the skidoos get there. Grosvenor Mountains is on the flight path to the South Pole, so we are hoping the 2 skidoos make it on a flight out soon. The rekkie team finished putting our gear together and it is all on its way to the South Pole too, and we will follow it on Monday.

Links to Antarctic teams websites:

Kiwis on Ice

Polar Quest live dispatches

Hannah McKeand

John Winton-Davies

Southern Reach

Correne Erasmus-Coetzer

Beth Cheesebrough

Ray & Jenny Jardine's blog

Team n2i

Beyond Endurance S.Georgia teams news

Duncan Chessells Centacare Antarctic Challenge

I. Tollefsen Ulvetanna's expedition (Norwegian)

Finnish Queen Maud Land teams website (Finnish)

Swedish Expedition Seven Summits - blog

Wally Berg's Vinson cybercasts

Alpine Ascents' Vinson cybercasts

Adventure Consultant's live Vinson dispatches

NDSU research teams live dispatches

Don Pettit's live "Space Chronicles on Ice"

ANSMET research teams dispatches

Antarctica weather





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