Antarctic wrap-up: Hannah, the RAF pilots and the Marines almost there

Posted: Dec 22, 2006 09:54 am EST

( The front line SP skiers should reach the Pole though the next week perhaps as soon as Christmas day. After their start out from Patriot Hills, Polar Quest camped only 5 miles away from the 89th degree today. RAFs Southern Reach reported from the 88th two days ago and Hannah (starting from the coast) was at 88.1011S yesterday.

Their last reported position 87º 43 South; Kevin and Jamie are slightly behind and hope to reach target within 10 days. The ladies are half way (85th), American couple Ray and Jenny Jardine are on the 86th, and John Wilton-Davies latest log noted 83.9 South.

Unsupported SP teams

(Return trip) Kiwis on Ice

On their 40th day of travel, Kevin and Jamie did 14.1 nautical miles in 11,5 hours. We started out with fairly overcast conditions, and the snow on the surface were very tough... both Kevin and I felt completely drained, reported Jamie.

We are not sure if it is the altitude or our lower calorie diet of 4500 calories per day or if it's the 40 days that we have been doing this but it seems very tough. But we passed three quarters of the way to the South Pole and we are confident that we will be there within 10 days time.

(Solo speed attempt) Hannah McKeand: Alone in sastrugi hell

I'm in sastrugi hell, vented Hannah, fighting rough snow for two straight days. The snow is just piled up in vicious, ankle-breaking, soul-destroying waves and ridges as far as the eye can see in every direction. I've been clambering and tugging and humping through it all day and it shows no sign of diminishing.

My spirits got pretty low by the end of the day, this is the hard part about being alone. With a team you can all pick each other up and give encouragement when times are hard, but alone you have only yourself to keep you going and no one can be cheery all the time - no, not even me!

John Wilton-Davies: Everything ok

A superb day, feeling strong, the ice was much smoother, and the weather great, reported John yesterday. Made my best speed yet, covering 14.5nm in 10 hours.

Supported teams

(Partial return trip) Polar Quest/UK Marines: We are unsupported

Earlier today, the team set up camp 5.4 miles from 89S and the final push to the Pole.

According to the Marines home team, the expedition has received a number of email queries on the 'supported' or 'unsupported' status of the expedition. "Our journey to the South Pole has been, and continues to be an unsupported attempt, replied Captain Sean Chapple. We departed Patriot Hills on the 11th November with sufficient food and supplies for 50 days to reach the Pole on Christmas Day; this remains our intent.

[If you are] of the opinion that kites provide 'external assistance', then our return journey is a supported venture. Our kites and associated equipment are cached at the South Pole for us to reclaim when we arrive."

The demands of hauling for the past 40 plus days is beginning to take its toll and we are all feeling the strain of daily hauling, but confident of arrival at the Pole in a few days - we are slightly ahead of schedule and the team are in excellent spirit, wrote Sean.

(Guided SP with resupplies) Ladies team: Half way rest days and visits expected

The team crossed the halfway mark at 85 degrees yesterday, reported Correnes home team. They had a good day with sunshine all day long. At 20h00, they had managed to have covered 17 nautical miles and they decided to push through to the resupply point, which they reached about three hours later. But the extra push was worth it. They found their resupplies and ravaged the fresh food.

They now have two rest days. Also, they the girls are expecting visitors. Mike Thornewill and his team heading for the last two degrees might drop in by plane today. Apparently they have not been dropped off yet which gives them an opportunity for a nice polar traveler get together.

Beth, whose shoulders are aching a great deal, hopes to recover enough during the rest period.

Pole of Inaccessibility team

Team n2i: "Paul cheats at cards"

There was not a breath of wind today - it was so quiet you could almost hear a pin drop, reported Henry. At this stage of the expedition we are completely reliant on wind to power our kites that will enable us to move - when there is no wind, we have to sit tight and wait. We are in the sailing equivalent of the 'doldrums'.

On days like this there is nothing to do except sit in our tent, play cards, sleep and generally relax. And Paul cheats at cards...

Vinson teams

(Skiing to BC) Centacare/DCXP: Half the job done

The team has passed the half way point on the way to Vinson, and now prepare for some rest.

We have decided to have a rest day tomorrow, to give our bodies a chance to recover a bit they have been on the go, working hard for 10 days, reported Duncan on Tuesday. We estimate that we have 7 days of trekking still to go, at about 18-20 km per day, to get to Vinson Base Camp. That means we have about 10 days worth of spare food so the risk of using a good weather day for resting seems justifiable.

Links to Antarctic teams websites:

Kiwis on Ice

Polar Quest live dispatches

Hannah McKeand

John Wilton-Davies

Southern Reach

Correne Erasmus-Coetzer

Beth Cheesebrough

Ray & Jenny Jardine's blog

Team n2i

Indian Navy SP trip's website

Duncan Chessells Centacare Antarctic Challenge

I. Tollefsen Ulvetanna's expedition (Norwegian)

Finnish Queen Maud Land teams website (Finnish)

Canadian Vinson team - blog

Abramov's 7Summits-club Vinson team

Don Pettit's live "Space Chronicles on Ice"

ANSMET research teams dispatches

Antarctica weather

After their start from PH, Polar Quest are first nearing the pole. They camped 5 miles from the 89th degree today. Live image over Contact 4.0 of team leader Captain Sean Chapple courtesy of Polar Quest (click to enlarge).
The 'Kiwis on Ice' are slightly behind the Brits, loaded for an unsupported coast to pole return trip. Image of Kevin courtesy of the expedition's website (click to enlarge).
Hannah nearing the last degree - as shown in the Contact 4.0 Geo interactive map. Black dots mark previous dispatches at real-time location on the map - latest report appears in green. The ground surface is a satellite image by NASA Earth Ob. Map by HumanEdgeTech, courtesy of Hannah McKeand (click to enlarge).
Solo skier John probably crossed the 84th degree today. Live image over Contact 4.0 courtesy of John Wilton-Davies (click to enlarge).

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