Day 21–Chipping Away

November 26, 2011 9:22am

November 25, 2011

S74°02.449 E012°05.765

Elevation 10969 feet

(Eric snacking on a break)

ALC is our expedition code name–acronym for Antarctica Legacy Crossing. Daily, at 21:00 GST, I put in a call to Andrei, the Russian search and rescue base manager to communicate our GPS position. If he doesn’t hear from us within 24 hours, he will initiate an S&R mission based on our last communicated position. When I mention on tonight’s sked call that we have traveled 75.3 km, he seems genuinely excited. It is so far our personal best, but pales in comparison to most days on Greenland. Antarctica has been very different so far. Apart from much colder temperatures for a similar seasonal time period, the combination of terrain and the cargo we are pulling for an unassisted 85 to 90 day mission puts a dent on racking up the mileage. The wind was pumping for most of the day, but we can’t seem to get past a 18 kilometers per hour top speed. The sastrugi has been virtually absent all day, which is a blessing. I am assuming that our altitude–we rose another 400 feet today, and are over 3600 meters–has a lot to do with it. It has been replaced by a combination of soft powder and patches of glazed ice. The powder slows the progress, while the ice offers moments of weightless glide. As the hours progress, I cannot stop making mileage versus days calculations, figuring the realistic daily average needed to reach our goal. The hours roll, one into the next, and depending on the wind gusts, and our speed of travel, I fluctuate between feeling like a truck driver putting on the miles, or a riders of the apocalypse, flying over a ocean frozen in time and space, headed on an abstract mission, nowhere in particular, in a world void of beings. Looking to my right, for most of the day, I see Eric, about 75 feet away, gliding over the ice, and I have to say, it looks pretty awesome. When the sun peaks out of the low clouds, I see my shadow on the ground, holding on to the kites bar and realize that I will be chasing it for another 60 days or so.

We are 1282 kilometers from our first destination: the Antarctica Pole of Inaccessibility…

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