Antarctica wrap-up: Over for Steffen Dahl, super-trekker Johan skiing from Novo

Posted: Dec 05, 2011 11:26 pm EST

(Angela Benavides) It's been a news-packed weekend on Antarctica. New skiers are on the ice, such as Johan Ernst Nilson in the last leg of his Pole to Pole human-powered mission.

Sadly, favorite speed skier Steffen Dahl was airlifted with heart problems yesterday.

Steffen Dahl: It's over

He was breaking speed records and going really well when suddenly Steffen Dahl fell ill on Thursday. Showing no improvement after two days on antobiotics, Dahl was forced to request an airlift.

Picked up by a plane enroute to the pole yesterday, Steffen got off and hauled his sledge the last 500 meters into the Amundsen-Scott base as a true explorer, although not the way he had hoped.

At the base, Steffen left two letters: one for the Norwegian Prime Minister expected there on December 14, and one to the ALE staff. He then took another plane to Union Glacier base, where he will undergo several tests in order to find out what's wrong with him.

Before leaving though, Steffen Dahl swore he'll be back.

Check Steffen's website for details.

Johan E. Nilson: On the ice

He skied from the North Pole, bicycled south, interviewed Deepak Chopra, and hit ice again, on the opposite side of the globe.

Originally Swede Johan E. Nilson wanted to do a Pole to Pole human-powered trek within one year by cycling to Punta and end at the pole. Changing the approach but not the goal, Johan had to do some reshuffling to achieve his mission.

"After many considerations and decisions I am now leaving for Antarctica to ski to the South Pole," the around-the-world's trekker reported last week. "Due to the power of nature and time, this is the only option if I am going to finish Pole2Pole within one year:
Icebergs, tropical storms, cracks in the ice, broken roads and nights in hospital made the last part really tough."

"[After the Pole] I will then go back to the exact point in South America [where I was before] to bike the rest and then sail over to Antarctica (again) to have completed the distance within one year."

Johan was airdropped in Novo base on Friday. Earlier today, he reported third day on the ice and kiting.

Also towards the Pole from Novo, the Basque BAT team have finally reached the Antarctic plateau. "Terrain at 3,000 meters has definitely improved," they reckoned. "We just hope to have favorable winds soon, so that we can start covering longer distances kite-supported."

Norwegians from Bay of Whales

The Norwegian team following Amundsen's footprints from Bay of Whales are still hopeful to reach the Pole by Dec 14.

Yesterday was hard due to altitude sickness but the team was rewarded for getting on their skis by increasing winds that led up to record distance covered. It also helped perhaps that team member Vegard Ulvang is a three time Olympic gold medalist in cross country skiing.

Fairbank: Amundsen vs. Scott days

Meanwhile, on Ronne-Filchner glacier, S. African Howard Fairbank enjoyed an uneventful day, reminding him of Amundsen:

"Today was an Amundsen day: All went according to plan!" Howard wrote, after covering 27 km. "I'm definitely more of the Robert Falcon Scott type! 'She'll be alright, and if 'she' isn't 'we' will somehow make a plan to recover.' Not that I could ever be compared to these amazing adventurers..."

1911: Amundsen feels like home, Scott not so much

100 years ago exactly, Amundsen and his men made their way in the thick cloud so infamous among polar folks: the white fog and the white ice embrace so tight that skiing the surface feels like blackwater diving.

"Have gone completely blind all day," the Norwegian wrote. "Breeze from N with thick fog and thick snowfall - more like home than we have seen before in these regions. Today has gone very well. The terrain is such that we can make progress, although not without effort."

Where Norwegian Amundsen felt like home in the conditions; despite the temperature hovering around 0 degrees Celsius Scott had no feel of Britain at all.

"It has blown hard all day with quite the greatest snowfall I remember," Scott wrote. "The drifts about the tents are simply huge."

"The temperature was +27°(F) this forenoon, and rose to +31° in the afternoon, at which time the snow melted as it fell on anything but the snow, and, as a consequence, there are pools of water on everything, the tents are wet through, also the wind clothes, night boots..."

"Water drips from the tent poles and door, lies on the floorcloth, soaks the sleeping-bags, and makes everything pretty wretched. If a cold snap follows before we have had time to dry our things, we shall be mighty uncomfortable."

"Yet after all it would be humorous enough if it were not for the seriousness of delay—we can't afford that, and it's real hard luck that it should come at such a time."

About Amundsen diary dates: Some readers pointed out that Amundsen forgot he crossed over the International Date Line, so the dates in his diaries from late November were one day ahead of the actual dates. Explorersweb staff decided to state his dates as they originally were penned.

Antarctica/SP - General facts:

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:
To ALCI/TAC base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo
(70o 46'37S", 011o 49'26"E)
Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:
To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier
(79o 45'S, 083o 14'W).
Gateway port Punta Christchurch, New Zealand:
To US base McMurdo
(77o 50'39"S, 166o 40'22"E)

1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km
1 nm = 1.151 statute mile
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.
A nunatak is a peak of a mountain rising above the ice cap; sometimes covered with snow, sometimes exposed rock.

Useful links:

CONTACT 5 expedition technology
Polar rules of Adventure
What is solo?
Hercules Inlet start point
2011-12 Guidelines for NGO Visitors to the South Pole Station
South Pole Station news (Bill Spindler)
Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE)
Adventure Network International (ANI)
The Antarctic Company (TAC/ALCI)


Wx7 observations at Union Glacier

Amundsen's & Scott's diaries
Amundsen's book, "The South Pole"
Amundsen's diary courtesy Fram Museum
Amundsen pix, courtesy Fram Museum
Scott's diary

List of Links to Antarctica 2011-12 teams
Classifications: Unassisted (no airdrops), unsupported (no kites/dogs/motor).

Hercules Inlet

Aleksander Gamme, Norway (solo)
Unassisted, unsupported:
Australian James Castrission and Justin Jones (Cas & Jonesy - return)
Steffen Dahl, Norway (solo)
Mark Wood, UK (solo)
Albert Bosch and Charles Gel, Spain (Catalans)
Mark George, Australia (solo)

Assisted (airdrops):
ANI Polar Vision US/UK
Polar Explorers
Byrony Balen (With PolarExplorers)
Johan Ernst Nilson

Bay of Whales and Cape Evans

Unassisted, unsupported:
British Army Scott-Amundsen Race 2011-12 - Amudsen team led by Henry Worsley from Bay of Whales

British Army Scott-Amundsen Race 2011-12 - Scott team led by Mark Langridge, from Cape Evans

Assisted (airdrops), supported (kites)
Norwegians from Bay of Whales

Ross Ice Shelf

Unassisted, unsupported:
The South Pole Jubilee Expedition - latitude Expeditions
The South Pole Jubilee Expedition - Borge Ousland & Lars Ebbesen Polar Exploration
The South Pole Jubilee Expedition - Rory O'Connor
The South Pole Jubilee Expedition Ottar and Jacob

Assisted (airdrops)
From Nansen to Amundsen 2011, Norway
Felicity Aston, UK (solo SP & assisted traverse)

Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf

Unassisted, unsupported:
Richard Weber & team (kite traverse)
Hvitserk, Norway

Supported (kites):
Howard Fairbank, South Africa (solo SP)

Assisted (airdrops), supported (kites)
Pole to Pole Run Pat Farmer
Pole to Pole Run Eric Philips
Charlie Paton & ANI team
Nabil Al Busaidi (Nabs)


Supported (kites):
Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour
Eric McNair-Landry and Sebastian Copeland
Basque Team: Iurrategi, Vallejo, Zabalza

South African Antarctic Research station, SANAE IV

Partial SP trips: 1-2 last degrees

Borge Ousland
The South Pole Push Doug Stoup
Humpty Dumpty South Pole Last Degree (Damien Guildea)
Harald Kippenes (with. J.E.Nilson)
Adventure Consultants: Vinson+Last degree
ANI/ALE last degree
One Call Wintercamp

Motorized support

Thomson Reuters Eikon
Arctic Trucks on Antarctica

Scott's last camp

International Scott Centenary Expedition


Norwegians kiting towards the South Pole in Amundsen's tracks. Team member Vegard Ulvang is a three time Olympic gold medalist in cross country skiing. Pic live over CONTACT.
courtesy Norwegians from Bay of Whales team, SOURCE
Steffen Dahl at the South Pole, Sun Dec 4, 2011. He'll be back.
courtesy Steffen Dahl-CONTACT A, SOURCE
File image of Johan E. Nilson during his Pole to Pole trip. Over CONTACT.
courtesy Johan E. Nilson, SOURCE
SP Jubilee expedition member, bundled up in -30C cold. Pic over CONTACT.
courtesy Christian Eide, SOURCE