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Antarctic roundup: Solo ski crossing underway; Vinson summits

Posted: Dec 15, 2012 12:10 am EST

(Newsdesk) Word arrived at ExplorersWeb about a German, Roland Krueger, doing a solo crossing of Antarctica. In Punta Arenas, Richard Parks had to postpone his flight to Antarctica as some of his gear didn't arrive from the UK. Eric Larsen and his fatbike have arrived in Punta. White-outs slowed down the skiers on the ice. Climbers on the Vinson 2 program summited.

South Pole Skiers

Skiers on the ice reported white-outs which makes navigation and general traveling very difficult. They also encountered sastrugi in these white-outs and fell over many times. Krueger reported about a caterpillar convoy of fuel, food and equipment being shipped south, which had to make a halt due to the whiteout earlier this week and the worst sastrugi they had ever experience on a drive south.

Aaron Linsdau - Hercules Inlet start

The American, who started off with food for 90 days to do return journey, has dropped a big cache at 82°S. It was picked up by an ALE vehicle heading to Thiels. They are forwarding his supplies to 85 ad 87 degrees, he reported. He also said ALE will drop him a new shovel at 85 degrees. His broke earlier.

Aaron is experiencing quite a lot of gear failure. Major are his two plastic sleds. Their added on skies have broken off, which means they are hauling more difficult. The sled bodies also start to show damage, dragging them across the rock-hard sastrugi. These sleds are usually used on last degree trips.

Aaron's toes are giving him problems. The boots show some minor damage and Aaron takes special care of them every evening, brushing off all the snow and inspecting them for damage.

Lately he reported no wind, which makes him too warm while skiing and he wished for light winds to cool down.

Location December 13th, Day 41:
83°S 35.384', W080.04.816'
Time traveled: 9 hours, 11 nautical miles (20.4km)

Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir - Hercules Inlet start

The solo girl from Iceland reported skiing 20km per day. She says the white-outs are tiring and every minute of sunshine makes her happy. Lately she also reported, as Aaron, a layer of fresh snow which makes the drag difficult. Vilborg says she is looking forward to making longer distances per day.

On December 11th, Day 23, she crossed 83 degrees South.

Roland Krueger - Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf Start

In 2005 Roland became the first German to ski unassisted and unsupported to the South Pole. Back then he was part of the Rolf Bae / Cecilie Skog team starting from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner Start).

He has started from the same position on November 23rd. Roland described a white-out like "walking in cotton, you see nothing. Actually it is the same as total darkness, but white. You see no contours, no horizon, no ground, no nothing and with that gone the imagination starts playing up as balance is thrown into disarray. And being in a sastrugi field this means walking through an enormous open office area, blindfolded."

Lars from his home team reports to ExplorersWeb, even though he is bit behind schedule, and the last days have seen pretty bad conditions, he seems to get there nicely.

Position December 12th, Day 19
S84.2091, W079.5770

Richard Parks

Richard was scheduled on the December 11th flight, but a lot of his gear didn't arrive in Punta Arenas. One of his home team members has brought the gear down from London today and Richard is now scheduled on the December 17th flight to Union Glacier.

Earlier today, Tracey from his home team reported to ExplorersWeb from Sao Paolo airport that she is on her way with Richard's gear that has never left London.

"It's been a total nightmare!" she says, "He's been up to his eyeballs sorting gear issues out." Richard's sled also hasn't arrived. Yesterday he wrote in his blog that ALE is lending him a sled to use on his expedition. He plans a fast 35-40 days travel across the 1130km.

Eric Larsen

All eyes will be on Eric and his fatbike, who have arrived in Punta Arenas today. They will also be on the Ilyushin-76 to Union Glacier on the 17th.

Below is an Outside Television video of Eric, telling about passion for the cold, his previous expeditions and this future plans:

David Hempleman-Adams and team

The team completed the last two degree to the South Pole. Unfortunately Malcolm Walker who was arrested in Santiago for not declaring fruit in his luggage, was evacuated. He said the food made him sick and couldn't keep anything in. He is an Everest summiteer.

Vinson Massif (16,050 ft / 4892m)

During the Vinson 1 climb 24 climbers summited. Among them were 5 Chilean climbers led by one of ANI's female Vinson guides, Patchy. She is also from Chile.

Currently Winslow Passy, another ANI female guide, is Vinson Base Camp manager. The past few days the Vinson 2 program climbers have been topping out.

With the first try on December 12th, RMI turned back to High Camp only 700 feet from the top. 14x Everest summiteer, Dave Hahn, reported, "It was a tough day to dress for as everyone continually cycled from too hot to too cold and rarely spent any time being just right. "We watched cloud caps forming and dissipating on the peaks as we gained altitude, but eventually the clouds just kept building on Vinson."

"We’d reached 15,340’ with 700’ to go… roughly two more hours to the top. But we couldn’t do it. The winds had picked up and snow was flying and people were tired, so it was a lousy combination for tackling the exposed summit ridge in cold conditions. Down we went and into a cold headwind."

On December 13 they got a chance to summit "We reached the old high point and then seemed to be getting above the clouds as we worked our way onto Vinson’s summit ridge [...] The team loved the big blocky rocks and delicate traverses of the summit ridge. We got on top at 5:00 PM." They started at around 10 AM.

One climber at High Camp still needs to summit.

Adventure Consultants has put two teams on the summit. Some of them are skiing the last degree (100km) to the South Pole at the moment.

Several other mountaineers also took the opportunity and are skiing the LDSP with ANI's Vinson 1 Base Camp Manager, David Hamilton. IMG also has a LD group Vinson climbers skiing to the SP; reportedly 16 miles to go yesterday.

The 7 Summits Club is also on Antarctica. Olga Rumyantsev has been guiding Vinson 2 and Alexander Abramov, who is in Punta Arenas at the moment, will be flying in on the 17th with a Vinson 3 team, who will also ski a last degree.

Check Berg Adventures' dispatches for many photos of Mount Vinson taken during the Vinson 1 program, which gives a good overview of the mountain.

A "solo" ski implies unassisted status (no resupplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything supplies received from any person) and no following of vehicle tracks (vehicle drivers navigating the way).

The Hercules Inlet route starts at 80°S and covers a distance of 1130 km to the Geographic South Pole at 90°S.
The start point at the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner route) is inside 82°S and covers a distance of 890 km to the Geographic South Pole at 90°S.

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 / 60 nm / 70 miles
Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet
A nunatak is a top of a mountain visible above the snow surface.

South Pole of Inaccessibility 2011-12 position:
S82°06.696, E055°01.951
Geographic South Pole: 90 degrees South

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

Expeditions/adventures/projects with RSS feeds can be followed in the live Dispatch stream at the Pythom App for iPhone/iPad and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.

ExplorersWeb South Pole Expedition List

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AdventureStats Polar Statistics

South Pole speed record special: Polar Express - leaving from where, exactly?

AdventureStats Special: What is Solo?

Polar Rules of Adventure

NOAA South Pole Live Camera



RMI guide, Dave Hahn, leading the team on Vinson Summit Ridge.
Image by Seth Waterfall courtesy Seth Waterfall, SOURCE