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Antarctic wrap-up: It is cold down there, minus 52°C, reports the first expedition to the South Pole

Posted: Nov 19, 2010 01:35 pm EST

It´s really cold on Antarctica, report the Arctic Trucks guys to ExplorersWeb, minus 52°C and a strong wind. In Punta Arenas the expeditions are still waiting in warm temperatures and calculating the days. The weather improved and the wind picked up at Union Glacier and there is a possibility that they could fly in on Sunday.

While they wait for the wind and ALE to clear the snow from the 3 km long runway at Union Glacier the adventurers stay fit by running, cycling and walking, and exploring Torres del Paine and Punta and its restaurants and clubs.

Chris Foot

The clock is ticking for the Brit who plans a solo return journey from Hercules Inlet, a distance of 2260 km as the condor flies. Chris expressed his concerns, Provided I hit the ice by Saturday I remain determined and confident that success is achievable as the objective is simple now, to get to the Pole and back as fast as possible, pondering strategies, timeframes and possible outcomes burns valuable energy which I will not be wasting.

He did some hostel hopping this week in Punta and kept up his fitness by going for runs.

Willem ter Horst

The Dutchman is eager to set off and asks the question, What do you do when there is nothing to do?

Willem reported about the weather, The news is that the wind is picking up nicely on Union Glacier and that they are expecting 35 knots of wind speed. Thats enough to clear the snow in a couple of days. The forecast is also favorable for the next four days, so it looks likely there will be a flight some day. I wanted to say any day now, but Friday is a no-go, Saturday is a maybe and Sunday is now likely.

Fuchs Foundation Science teachers

The group visited the nearby national park, Torres del Paine. Lyndsay wrote over Contact about their experience. They visited a cave where the remains of the milodon were found. The milodon is a prehistoric sloth which lived in the area around 12,000 years ago. The cave had been carved by a combination of glaciers, wind and waves over millions of years and was an impressive sight.

The group saw Condors and Guanacos (similar to llamas). Lyndsay added that the mountains they saw have two distinct layers of rock which are completely different colors - they consist of granite with much darker sedimentary strata on top.

Tim tells a bit more about his science experiments; studying the effect of the cold on human motor skills, physiology and emotions and looking at the psychology of groups working closely together.

Peninsula ski and climb

Latest news from Doug Stoup is that they entered the Drake Passage and the seas are not that bad. We have a Northeasterly wind, which helps our travel south, and the seas are only 15 feet (but seem large for our 75-foot sail boat.) We are all doing well and enjoying the Beagle Channel and bird life.

Motorized expeditions

The Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition did the following modifications to their vehicles: The drivers fitted the tracking equipment and snow melters, and installed the radio system on the Science Support Vehicles. On the Ice Concept Vehicle carb heaters were installed, the alternators fitted, some dials were wired up and the propeller built. The GPS systems in the trucks were also programmed.

Arctic Trucks Aron Reynisson sent over news to ExplorersWeb about the Indian NCAOR expedition that started on November 13 the expedition flew in from Cape Town, South Africa to Novolazarevskaya, and departed from Novo: Icelandic Eyjolfur Teitsson reported on November 17 at 10:00 am from 80°39S, We are already over the high part; the altitude now is 2815 meters so everyone is over the altitude sickness. The snow conditions are good; we are currently doing 40-45 km/hour.

Yesterday we noticed leaks in two of the radiators, it was minus 52°C and strong winds and we believe that the information we got on how to mix the Russian antifreeze, rated for -65°C, is probably incorrect. We made some experiments yesterday and found out that the mix we were using was freezing in this temperature but when we increased the ration of water it was not freezing.

We are waiting for the right information and Gisli Karel [Arctic Trucks mechanic] will join us at the fuel drop at 83° 20S. He will bring with him spare radiators and special antifreeze from Castrol that we will try out. The flight to the fuel depot is scheduled sometime tomorrow if weather allows and Gisli will also bring some parts for the Indian cooking equipment.

While the drivers slept the Indian scientist did some studies and tests. They on their turn sleep in the car while the Icelanders are driving. They took off again around 21h30 and camped one more time before they reached the fuel depot.

Eyjolfur added, Standing outside and working in minus 52°C and heavy wind felt very cold. In the tent we first thought there was something wrong with the heater but it was working as hard as it could. Still I had a good 4-5 hours sleep and was not cold. Before taking of we left 3 barrels of fuel behind for using on the way back and we still have 7 barrels with us plus full tanks which should be plenty to get us to the fuel drop which is now less than 300km away.

Yesterday the guys arrived at the fuel depot and waited for ALCIs Basler in perfect weather, -28°C.


Hercules Inlet return journey
Unassisted, unsupported

Chris Foot (UK - website)
Chris Foot (UK - dispatches)

Hercules Inlet start
Unassisted, unsupported

Christian Eide (Norway) website
Christian Eide daily updates

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

Hercules Inlet start
Assisted, Unsupported

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

Vinson climb and ski Last Degree

Team Latitude with Christian Eide
Adventure Consultants with Guy Cotter

Ski Last Degree

Ice Axe Doug Stoup (also doing a Peninsula climb and ski)
IceTrek Eric Philips guiding a Chinese group
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)

Mount Vinson

International Mountain Guides (IMG) with guides Phil Ershler, Greg Vernovage and Mike Hamill.
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE/ANI)
7 Summits Club with Alex Abramov

Science projects

Fuchs Foundation (UK)
Fuchs Foundation Antarctic Expedition 2010 (UK) dispatches
Fuchs Foundation team members: teachers Lindsay Hilton, Lisa Wood, Tim Miall and Roussel De Carvalho with BPE leaders, Carl Alvey and Carolyn Bailey.
University of Exeter - Holocene Stability of West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Centro de Estudios Cientificos
Institute Ice Stream Aerial Survey

Motorized crossing and science

The Moon-Regan Transantarctic Expedition with Imperial College London Union Glacier-GSP-McMurdo and back.

Arctic Truck Expeditions:
NCAOR Expedition GĂ­sli Karel, Freyr Jonsson and Eyjolfur Teitsson (Iceland) and 8 Indian scientists, Novo - Geographic South Pole Novo;
Kazakhstan National Geographic Society Gunnar Haraldsson and Hlynur SigurĂ°sson from Iceland with 6-8 people from Kazakhstan. Novo-SP-Novo
2010 Ski Race GĂ­sli JĂłnsson, Aron Reynisson and GuĂ°mundur GuĂ°jĂłnsson from Arctic Trucks.

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)

#Polar #topstory

Chris Foot: Provided I hit the ice by Saturday I remain determined and confident that success is achievable as the objective is simple now, to get to the Pole and back as fast as possible. In the image solo skier Chris a few days ago weighing in gear with ALE/ANI staff (click to enlarge)
courtesy Chris Foot (over Contact 5), SOURCE
Fuchs Foundation science teacher at Torres Del Paine: The cave had been carved by a combination of glaciers, wind and waves over millions of years and was an impressive sight. (click to enlarge)
courtesy Fuchs Foundation (over Contact 5), SOURCE
Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle during a test run (click to enlarge)
courtesy Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition, SOURCE
Eyjolfur Teitsson (Arctic Trucks who departed from Novolazarevskaya): Standing outside and working in minus 52°C and heavy wind felt very cold. (click to enlarge)
courtesy Arctic Trucks Expeditions, SOURCE