Antarctic wrap-up: Christian Eide crossed halfway, 85°S, in only 13 days

Posted: Jan 03, 2011 08:19 pm EST

(By Correne Coetzer) The front teams reported colder temperatures in 87 and 88 degrees South. Chris Foot has one degree to go before his half way point, the Geographic South Pole. Hannah and Willem saw the last of a nasty 87 degrees.

Christian Eide had a fast first 13 days; he completed the first 565 km (as the condor flies), of his speed solo to the South Pole. Previous ski speed record holders, Hannah McKeand and Todd Carmichael, crossed 85°S on their day 21 and 23 respectively.

Hercules Inlet return journey
Unassisted, unsupported

Chris Foot (UK) solo

Dec. 31, position 88.4322S, 080.2014W:

As for a New Years Eve party Chris has decided to have a low key affair as skiing with a hangover is not the best and clearing the tent up from a wild New Years party did not appeal.

He is already travelling on the Antarctic plateau and has noticed the typical colder temperatures of that area. Things are still slow going and bloody cold! Really noticed it the last few days.

Moving ever closer the pole, slower than I want but I'm putting the work and hours in so terrain and surface conditions are my excuses to settle my mind, he concluded.

January 1, 88.5830S, 080.1052:

Chris said for him New Years kick off was a lot of hard work and effort for little return. After 37 days he changed his gloves for mitts and realized how quick frostbite can happen when he exposed his hands.

The plane he heard the previous night was a last degree group getting dropped off so I should pass them in the next few days, something to look at as no doubt the rules state strictly eye contact only, no verbal interaction or hand signals summarizing what I think about the previous 40 days, he added.

Hercules Inlet start
Unassisted, unsupported

Christian Eide (Norway) solo

Dec. 31, Day 12:

Visibility was poor during the day and when he forgot to stop at the end of the day Christian was pleased to have travelled a bit further than planned.

He said nature is incredible, I have seen 50 cm high sastrugi of most peculiar shapes standing alone in the flat landscape. He thinks he has never been this far from other human beings, with the nearest people another team 300 km from him.

Christians New Year's wish: Reaching the South Pole without accidents or problems with the equipment.

1 - Position: 84.6434S, 080.2821W
2 - Sastrugi: A few
3 - Altitude: 1298 m
4 - No of legs: 9 x 60 minutes
5 - Distance: 45,8 km
6 - Temperature: -14°C
7 - Wind: 3-5 m/s from south
8 - Sky: Cloudy. Sunny in the camp
9 - Physical/mental condition: Good
10 - Equipment: Good
11 - Prospects for tomorrow: Go skiing in snowdrift and 8 -10 m/s wind

January 1, Day 13:

Christian crossed 85°S; halfway to the South Pole and has the Thiel Mountains in sight. He will be seeing them for several days while passing, which provides something else to focus on; not only the endless white horizons.

He says he feels fine like I have just started - except for my sun burnt nose and lips. He added, I look forward to getting up every morning and check out if I feel tired from yesterday's skiing? How is the weather? More sastrugi today? How are the skiing conditions?

Every day he works hard to maintain his energy while skiing.If during a break I do not eat or drink properly, the next leg will feel long and boring and mentally tough.

1 - Position: 85.0534S, 080.4607W
2 - Sastrugi: Some
3 - Altitude: 1358 m
4 - No of legs: 9 1/2 x 60 minutes
5 - Distance: 45.8 km
6 - Temperature: -14°C
7 - Wind: 8 m/s from southwest
8 - Sky: Sunny
9 - Physical/mental condition: Very good
10 - Equipment: One shoe sole has a minor none-critical horizontal crack. I will mend it.
11 - Prospects for tomorrow: Go skiing in sunshine and wind as today.

January 2, Day 14:

Christian has crossed Greenland 9 times and said there is only a distance equal to a Greenland crossing left of his expedition, 510 km.

1 - Position: 85.4691S, 080.4663W
2 - Sastrugi: A few
3 - Altitude: 1430 m
4 - No of legs: 9 1/2 x 60 minutes
5 - Distance: 46.4 km
6 - Temperature: -12°C
7 - Wind: Weak from south
8 - Sky: Sunny
9 - Physical/mental condition: Good, but sun burnt lips and nose
10 - Equipment: Shoe sole mended 100 %.
11 - Prospects for tomorrow: Go skiing in almost no wind.

Distances: 45.8 km (24.7 nm), 45.8 km (24.7 nm), 46.4 km (25.1 nm)

Hercules Inlet start
Assisted, Unsupported

Willem ter Horst (The Netherlands) with ANI guide Hannah McKeand (UK)

Dec. 31, Day 36, position 87.3697S, 086.3102W:

After the full white-out the previous day the team got a moral booster, said Willem. When he looked out of the tent in the morning there was some contrast. I could see some light shadows that made it possible to pick out an obstacle, before you stumbled over it.

The first hour was a struggle again for him, but Hannah was leading so he had a little advance warning when the big sastrugi crossed their path. He added, I was quite scared of the situation. At this moment the biggest risk to the expedition is if either of us gets injured and can't continue. A white-out around 87° is just the perfect place to make that happen. I really don't want to have to abort, after all the effort I've put in.

After the first hour it was his turn to lead. The patch of blue had increased a little in size and had spread to the east, and that was where the wind was coming from. In fact, we had a little contrast again. I still managed to trip myself though.

I was seeing contours, but no depth. I thought I was skiing over a little 5 cm ridge, which is easy to ski over, but the ridge was in fact 15 cm high and my ski pierced right into it, coming to an immediate stand still. I tumbled right over the ridge, face first into the snow. Okay, I still had to be careful. Half an hour later we had good contrast and an hour later we were skiing in glorious sunshine again.

Jan. 1, Day 37, position 87.3997S, 086.0535W

The terrain was pretty rough reported Willem. We had a fairly smooth climb for two hours, but at the end of the day we were on bumpy ground, with sometimes big sastrugi we had to climb. It's still pretty much typical 87° stuff.

Willem also said it has been much colder the last days. This is the first time in the expedition we have experienced really cold weather. We haven't got a thermometer to record the temperature. Anything around -20°C out here is good for skiing. If it becomes warmer, we'll travel in just one layer (provided there is no wind). Managing your sweat becomes a real issue then as it was two days ago. Today and yesterday we are travelling in three layers and I kept my hood with fur ruff up all day. Then it feels nice when you are skiing, but the first 10 minutes of every march I am cold.

Jan. 2, day 38, position 87.8440S, 086.1564W

The day started well, but then some fog came in. By the end of the day visibility was poor which made navigation and travelling difficult.

Willem reported, The last march was mine again to lead and the ground conditions were far from ideal. I fell twice, backwards, sliding off a slope I didn't spot. After my falls, I was counting every five minutes, hoping for the hour, and with it the day to be over. I made it through another whiteout, unharmed.

Distances: 14.7 nm, 13.8 nm, 14.7 nm

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:
To ALCI/TAC base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo
(70° 4637S, 011° 4926E).
Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:
To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier
(79° 45'S, 083° 14'W).
Gateway port Punta Christchurch, New Zealand:
To US base McMurdo
(77°50'39"S, 166°40'22"E)

1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km
1 nm = 1.151 miles
1 knot = 1.852 km/h
1 degree of Latitude is 110 km
Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet


Hercules Inlet return journey
Unassisted, unsupported

Chris Foot (UK) website
Chris Foot (UK) daily updates

Hercules Inlet South Pole
Unassisted, unsupported

Christian Eide (Norway) website
Christian Eide Contact 5 site (map)

Hercules Inlet start
Assisted, Unsupported

Willem ter Horst (The Netherlands) with ANI guide Hannah McKeand (UK)
Willem ter Horst website
Willem ter Horst dispatches
Willem ter Horst Tweets

Indian Army with ANI guides Devon McDiarmid (Canada) and Svante Strand (Norway)
Team members: Anand Swaroop (leader), Bala Karthik, Arjun Kumar Thapa, Ram Singh, Khilap Singh, Tsewang Morup, Parsuram Gurung, Showkat Ahmad Mir

Other links:

CONTACT 5 expedition technology

Polar rules of Adventure
What is solo?
Hercules Inlet start point

Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)
The Antarctic Company (TAC/ALCI)


Christian Eide: As you can see from the picture one can easily feel small in the Antarctica.
Image by Christian Eide courtesy Latitude Expeditions (live over Contact 5), SOURCE
Christian Eide: It takes patience to ski the 1130 km from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole.
Image by Christian Eide courtesy Latitude Expeditions (live over Contact 5), SOURCE
Willem ter Horst, One patch of sastrugi in 87°S
Image by Willem ter Horst (live over contact 5), SOURCE
87°S sastrugi field
Image by Willem ter Horst (live over contact 5), SOURCE
Screenshot of Willem ter Horsts Contact-A map
courtesy Willem ter Horst (live over contact 5), SOURCE
Screenshot of Chris Foots Contact-A map
courtesy Chris Foot (over Contact 5), SOURCE

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