Day 61–More Distance Today

January 6, 2012 4:41pm

January 4, 2012

S86°55.433 E046°07.824

Elevation 10172 feet

We have put in another solid travel day today, with 155 kilometers of distance covered. The wind was strong and gusty this morning, averaging about twenty knots with blowing snow. Although we have dropped 2040 feet in elevation since the POI, and the temperature should rise accordingly, we have not felt it, exactly; it was still cold we hit the trail around 11:00 O’clock. Luckily, once we get going, traveling with the wind, the bite isn’t so bad; it’s the breaks that get you! We flew the thirteen meter Frenzy’s for most of the day, until the last hour and half as the wind was weakening. We set up the big guns–the fourteen meter Yakuza’s–and really flew, averaging almost thirty kilometers per hour!

The terrain varied in roughness, but generally it seems to be improving, though the denominator is so low, that before getting “good” there is a long way to go! We experienced a nice smooth patch in the morning, for about twenty minutes, and then back to some pretty rough riding. But overall, the height of the sastrugi is lower than it has been. There are no outstanding ice features, but for the occasional head, but those are quite sporadic, and generally quite small.
In a world saturated with people, and where so much has been explored that there is little left to discover, I am still somewhat in awe that no one has ever laid eyes on this stretch of ice, between the POI and the South Pole, before us. We are literally the very first to travel across this part of the world. It is hard to suppress the simple pride and satisfaction that comes with being the first somewhere. It is the golden egg of any adventurer, and as we lay tracks here and open a new route, every little observation of the terrain and conditions seems to take on that much more relevance.

Generally speaking, and except for the three days spent in the tent, the wind has been stronger, and more lasting than I had estimated. On the days we did travel, our average distance has exceeded one hundred kilometers per day, which just about doubles the rest of the trip. There has been no mid afternoon shut off, and we have ended our days mostly due to fatigue and soreness.

We are now 315 kilometers from the Clean Air Sector turn off; we will then need to head due south for the South Pole 150 clicks or so away. A damn shame, since as the crow flies, we are now 343 kilometers from the pole, a distance we could cover–if the winds held–in two to three days. As it is, I guesstimate our arrival at the Pole in five to six days. If this proves accurate, it should leave us plenty of time to complete the first East-West transcontinental crossing of Antarctica, and the final mandate of this mission! But there is still a lot of ground to cover: in the next twenty days, we must close about 1500 kilometers; we have done almost 2300 so far, in sixty one days!

Luckily, as I write this, the wind is growling outside the tent, and the forecast is still good for tomorrow. Let’s hope it holds…

One Response to “Day 61–More Distance Today”

  1. BASILE says:

    I am so excited to read the next contribution… Now the hope is restored to reach the final goal,,,
    Good luck Sebastian and Eric 🙂

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