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South Pole ski wrap-up: Hannah McKeand and Eero Oura at the Pole

Posted: Jan 10, 2013 07:47 pm EST

(Newsdesk) On January 9th Hannah McKeand and Eero Oura have reached the South Pole after 41 days skiing from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf; Hannah for the 6th time from the coast.

Vilborg Gissurardottir has picked up a resupply earlier this week. Aaron Linsdau has crossed the worst sastrugi fields. Most days Richard Parks has been doing 30+km but it is hard on his body and mind. Roland Krueger is well into 89°S.

Aaron Linsdau - Hercules Inlet start

The sastrugi in 87 degrees going into 88 degrees were a big challenge for Aaron. Day 66 at S88° 10.476' he reported, "Currently I am located in what I'm going to call Four Session Hill. It's going to take me 4 sessions to get over this thing, I've burned up 3 getting up it, had to put an extra hour in that normally wouldn't do simply because there were no camp sites for a good hour and I mean all I need is a 10x10 and vaguely lumpy flat space and boy it did not exist no. I've been told that once I get past this thing the sastrugi suppose to thin out, I sure hope so cause my hip hurts, my back hurts, this stuff is really taking a toll on me. "

Yesterday Aaron reported his feet and whole body hurt because of crossing the sastrugi constantly. He hopes the perpendicular lateral sastrugi will clear in a day's travel as he has been told. He also says he is very cold. When he took off his boots in the evening there were ice in his kartanks (Sami wool boot liners) and his goggles kept icing up.

Location Day 68 Jan 9th
S88° 27.740' W082° 22.818'
Time traveled: 10 hours, 9 nautical miles / 16.7 km.

Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir - Hercules Inlet start

Vilborg's plan was to ski to the South Pole in 50 days, but a slow start and approx. 20 km per day prevented her from gaining the required distance. Fortunately she had brought food for 60 days and ALE had dropped her extra food which she had picked up earlier this week. This means she lost her solo status as "solo" requires no outside assistance.

On January 4th Vilborg reported crossing 88°S. Her latest position is not available on her map, but she should be at the last degree now.

Roland Krueger - Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf Start to Axel Heiberg

Roland reported problems with his stomach which drains his energy. When he crossed into 89 degrees, he described it as a feast; traveling without any sastrugi.

Position Day 46, January 8th
S89.2560 / W080.0685
Distance travelled 23 km

Richard Parks

On January 6th, Day 20, Richard got his first glimpse of the Thiel Mountains, which indicates more or less halfway on the 1130km Hercules Inlet route. It is a bit of shock to the senses, he says, "I haven’t seen anything for so long; it was weird to see them but cool."

He described how he was "absolutely boll*cksed". "Every step I took it felt like I had another pulk strapped to me. Skied for 3 hours in the morning and just under 3 hours later into the evening and covered 20.7km/12 miles/11.2nm. It was mentally draining too because I had such an internal dialogue going on."

The next day though he skied 9 and half hours and had his biggest day yet, covering 35km/21 miles/18.89 nautical miles. "Conditions were good. I had a very mild wind, great visibility, great conditions under foot it was just a generally good day."

January 8th Richard skied for 9½ hours and covered 34.3km/21 miles/18.51 nautical miles. He reports, "Great conditions yesterday but I started to climb to 1,505m in altitude and I also had challenging sastrugi, it was hard going. The sastrugi was just constant and I was absolutely shattered. When I got in my bag last night everything was screaming – my achilles, my knees, shins, hamstrings, quads, glutes, back, shoulder, absolutely everything was hurting yesterday. It also got really cold towards the end of the day and it was pretty cold last night."

January 9th was the coldest day he has experienced on the route. "Physically it’s getting tough now and it’s very much the business end of the expedition when slight hiccups, food, calculations, all the tiny factors come in to play and play on my mind now – have I got all my calculations right? enough food, fuel, etc. I am still within my safety margins but during the 10 hours skiing a day your mind does wonder. I’m starting to feel like every day has got to count."

He loves his jelly bellies. "This will make you laugh I am sure, although I could have cried for hours…Today I spilt my Jelly Bellies in the snow. I saved my 2 Jelly Bellies for the end of the day because they are like heaven, my treat at the end of a long day skiing. It sounds really irrational but I had to stop myself from crying when I dropped both of them in the snow, I was so tired. But I managed to save them and pick them up eating them one by one off the snow!

Eric Larsen

A disappointed Eric and his fatbike are back home after being picked up at Hercules Inlet by the Twin Otter and flown to Punta Arenas the next day with the Ilyushin. "Basically, I arrived in Union Glacier, had a quick meal and was told that the Ilyushin would be coming in the next day and if I would need to pack up everything immediately. in order to make the flight."

"You would think that after traveling with everything that I needed to live and survive on my bike for two weeks, the process would be easy. For some reason, I was up all night, finding my spares, disassembling the Moonlander (not before going for one last short ride) and sorting and drying gear. Then next day everything was labeled and loaded up... and... I left."

Reason for his pick-up, "I started to calculate my mileage south of 85 degrees, I realized that due to an increased amount of climbing, headwinds, and consequently sastrugi and drifts, my daily mileage would realistically be closer to 10 nautical miles per day. At that rate, my chances of making the pole before my food ran out (as well as the end of the season) would be zero - odds that would basically mean a costly extraction by ALE somewhere before the pole."

Hannah McKeand and Eero Oura

Hannah, who is guiding for ANI has started off with two men in her team. Toby Selman has been evacuated early in the trip. Hannah and Eero from Finland, have been traveling 12-14 nm per day, says ANI.

"Like other teams they have had to contend with broken sled runners, the hard, rough surface and enormous sastrugi. They were happy to cross 88°S on December 30 and even happier to reach 88 38S and 'very very flat ground'."

On Christmas Day, while in 87°S, Hannah told ExWeb over satellite phone that it was the worst sastrugi she had crossed in the six years she has been skiing across that degree of latitude infamous for its dense sastrugi fields. She said it must have been a particular bad winter.

The team started on November 30th. Hannah has now complete 6 full routes to the South Pole. Adding 1 more to her record of most full routes by any man or woman.

Geoff Somers and Henry Evans

The veteran polar explorer, Geoff, and the novice, Henry, reached the South Pole on January 5th after skiing the last two degrees to the Pole.

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) 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 and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.

ExplorersWeb South Pole Expedition List

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Ulvetanna climb update: Trying to unlock the secrets

Winter South Pole crossing: Ranulph Fiennes and ship set sail from South Africa to Antarctica

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AdventureStats Special: What is Solo?

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Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir from Iceland.
courtesy mbl.is, SOURCE