(ThePoles.com) Hannah McKeand not only broke a new speed record on her solo, unsupported SP trip last week - she also made the first complete trip to the Pole this season. Second to reach the finish line may be the Kiwi skiers, expected there today.
Behind, solo unsupported John Wilton-Davies and the guided ladies' team are following slowly but surely.
Starting out a bit further inland from Patriot Hills; the British Marines were first to reach the pole this season; their RAF pilot UK buddies unfortunately having to abort due to health issues. Elsewhere on the ice; Team n2i are battling a New Year's hangover while kiting towards the SP of Inaccessibility.
Duncan and his team summited Vinson after skiing there from the coast, and the meteorite hunters are breaking records of their own. Above it all; Helicopter pilots Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill are back - attempting to set a new world record: To fly their chopper around the world via the South and North Poles.
Unsupported SP teams
(Return trip) Kiwis on Ice: Expected at the Pole today
Kiwi skiers Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitgerald hoped to reach the South Pole today, according to their latest report.
(Speed record) Hannah McKeand: "An incredible sense of loss and sorrow"
The flight back to Patriot Hills was full of reflection, reported Hannah, back in Patriot Hills after achieving the fastest unsupported SP trip ever. It is a deeply profound experience flying back over that vast expanse and trying to imagine how you ever fitted down there, the tiniest speck creeping over it day after day. I think it will be days, weeks, maybe years before I am able to understand the full depth of what I have experienced over the past few weeks. All I can say for sure is that as I flew over it I felt an incredible sense of loss and sorrow and silent tears rolled down my face.
Hannah skied solo and unsupported to the South Pole from Hercules Inlet in 39 days, 10 hours and 33 min, almost 2 days faster than the previous record of 41 days 8 hours and 14 min. At arrival, Hannah met the Marines and the last degree Indian Navy team at the pole, where they all had dinner together.
John Wilton-Davies: Looking forward to longer mileages
I have covered 317 nautical miles towards the Pole, at an average of 9 nm a day over 36 days, repored John. I need to complete the journey in about another 20 days, requiring around 14 nm a day. Whilst a more than 50% increase in daily distance may seem daunting (it does to me) my sled is now noticeably lighter and, mentally, it is easier to focus on a target whereas, up until now, my individual daily mileage has not seemed vitally important.
Yesterday John's log located him a bit beyond half way to the Pole.
Southern Reach: Its over
Due to medical issues, the RAF pilots aborted their SP expedition on December 23. The team was evacuated 101 miles from the Pole.
(Partial return trip) Polar Quest/UK Marines:
Objective achieved - Polar quest expedition reached Geographical South Pole at 02:18 on Dec 27, 2006, reported Captain Chapple last week. The team raised the Union Jack, White Ensign, flag of the Royal Marines and flag of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Then they set camp for some rest before starting the return trip.
The teams' kites are now rigged and staked out, Sean last reported. Hopefully the team will start moving as soon as the wind picks up as forecasted. It's unclear if the expedition got a resupply at the Pole.
(Guided SP with resupplies) Ladies team: New Years rest
Yesterday, Correne and the girls took a rest and whished everybody a Happy New Year from S87° W086°. This means they have covered more than two thirds of the way. Today the ladies will resume their trip in reportedly good weather conditions.
(Resupplied SP trip) Ray and Jenny Jardine: Two more degrees to go
The Minesotta couple camped at S87° W086° yesterday. Once they reach the Pole, Jenny will return home, whilst Ray plans to climb Vinson.
Pole of Inaccessibility
Team n2i: Hangover Kiting
We emerged from our tent this morning very hangover mainly due to large quantities of alcohol consumed, reported Henry. Paul crawled out of his tent - his clothes on back to front and his eyes bloodshot - his breath still smelling of whiskey - it had been a good night!
According to the team, New Years Eve party ended up with guide Paul being helped back to his tent swinging his arms and mumbling something incoherent about taking on Polar Bear's as they are a bunch soft northern b*st*rds.
In spite of it all, the guys have covered 456km in 28 days. They are currently 1235km (829miles) away from their goal: The South Pole of Inaccessibility.
Last degree trips
Indian Navy: At the Pole on the 28th
Nine members of the Indian Navy reached the SP on December 28, after a guided last degree trip.
Polar Explorers: Green approach
Currently in Punta Arenas, PolarExplorers guide Annie Aggens is leading a last degree trip to the SP. Before departure, Annie challenged to her hometown to match the number of miles she'll ski with an equal number of households that register to convert their household energy source to wind, instead of coal. We cannot promote travel to the polar regions without also sending a strong message about climate change, Aggens says. It is simply too important an issue, and the changes we are seeing in the Polar Regions are too significant. Climate change is an immediate threat one which demands action.
The Polar Explorers (the polar division of Illinois-based company The Northwest Passage) has committed to producing carbon neutral North Pole expeditions starting in April 2007.
This means that from the moment PolarExplorers expeditions leave Longyearbyen, all of the carbon that is released from the plane and helicopter flights will be neutralized by investments in renewable energy resources and/or tree planting campaigns around the world.
(Skiing to BC) Centacare/DCXP: Mission accomplished!
All four members of the team (Duncan Chessell, Rob North, Peter Weeks and Rob Jackson) reached the 4897m summit of Mt Vinson at 4.30pm on January 1, 2007, Antarctic time, reported Duncans home team.
The team climbed for most of the day in clear, cold weather. They spent about an hour on the summit enjoying the panoramic view, before heading back down the 2 hours to their high camp at 3700m. As soon as they have re-hydrated and had a short rest they plan to keep heading down to Low Camp or Base Camp for a well-earned rest.
According to Duncan, this is the first Vinson ascent ever accomplished from sea level the team started out on Hercules Inlet and skied all the way to BC.
Don Pettits Space Chronicles on Ice Reporting from Mauger Nunatak
NASA Astronaut Don Pettit last reported from ANSMET second field camp, located near Mauger Nunatak at 85.6 S Latitude, 176.1 W Longitude. Dons report consists of a series of meteo data.
ANSMET: The South Graves
After being stuck in the tents during a four day-long storm, the Meteorite Hunters have resumed their field work in good weather.
We cleaned out South Graves yesterday by finding twice as many meteorites as on our first sweep, reported Barbara. Even though South Graves icefield is small (something like 5 km long or so), it's still too big to search by foot, so we search by skidoo. The four of us spread out parallel to each other and stand on the skidoos so that we can turn our whole body left and right. We drive very slowly, only about 2-3 km per hour.
Helicopter SP flight
Polar First chopper flight around the world across the Poles: Arrival in Antarctica
Helicopter pilots Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill are attempting to set a new world record: To fly around the world via the South and North Poles.
The pilots decision follows their last attempt in 2003 when on December 20th, 58 days into their journey and two days after reaching the South Pole, they crashed in whiteout conditions on the Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Both pilots sustained serious injuries and their crash was reported by media around the globe. Many might have called it a day after such an experience but Jennifer, 66, and Colin, 55, are determined to finish the challenge.
"Weve always said well have another go, and thats exactly what were going to do weve got unfinished business," Jennifer Murray says.
The pilots took off in their Bell 407 helicopter from Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Dallas, USA, on December 5, 2006. On December 31, Jennifer and Colin reached Antarctica, landing at Marsh Base. According to reports, they were continuing to Vernadsky in good weather conditions. The trip will get them flying for 169 days, visit 34 countries and cover 36,206 nautical miles.
Links to Antarctic teams¡¦ websites:
Kiwis on Ice
Polar Quest¡¦ live dispatches
Ray & Jenny Jardine's blog
Indian Navy SP trip's website
Duncan Chessell¡¦s Centacare Antarctic Challenge
I. Tollefsen Ulvetanna's expedition (Norwegian)
Finnish Queen Maud Land team¡¦s website (Finnish)
Canadian Vinson team - blog
Abramov's 7Summits-club Vinson team
Don Pettit's live "Space Chronicles on Ice"
ANSMET research team¡¦s dispatches
Polar First - Jennifer and Colin's helicopter SP flight
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