A record-breaking Antarctic summer for polar trips

Jan 24, 2012, 8:04 PM

Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – This has been the busiest summer in history for Antarctic expeditions, with dozens of skiers reaching the end of the Earth to mark the centennial of man’s first journey to the South Pole.

About 20 teams set off from the South American side of the icy continent, and only one is still under way: Australians Justin Jones and James Castrission are attempting to ski to the South Pole and back to their starting point without any help whatsoever.

Alexsander Gamme of Norway was waiting for the Australians at a spot 1 kilometer (less than 1 mile) from the edge of the ice shelf at Hercules Inlet, so they can share the record of becoming the first to ski to the pole and back both unassisted (without kites, motors or now-banned dogs) and unsupported (without caches of supplies along the route). Gamme’s team told the ExplorersWeb site on Tuesday that said the three hoped to meet up in several days.

All three men have skied for more than 85 days, traveling much farther than Britain’s Felicity Aston, who arrived at Hercules Inlet on Monday. Her 59-day trip across 1,084 miles (1,744 kilometers) made her the first woman to traverse Antarctica alone and on her own power. Aston counted on two supply drops along the way, however, to lighten her two sleds.

“In my opinion they’re all notable. This is very difficult to do, all of this, and as a result I don’t like to split hairs too much … It’s sort of disrespectful to the effort that people bring to this. There are a lot of difficult logistics out there,” said Peter McDowell, who manages the Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions company’s operations from Punta Arenas, Chile.

Some of this year’s visitors flew directly to the U.S. research station at the South Pole, or were dropped off and then skied in from just one degree of latitude, to join last month’s celebration of Roald Amundsen’s team from Norway becoming the first to reach the Pole in 1911.

But most others were supported by Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions, which has moved about 500 people around the continent this summer. They included scientific expeditions, record-breaking attempts, high-end tourist trips and government programs sponsored by Argentina, Brazil, Australia, the United States and Britain.

Only 60 people were left Tuesday at a base camp at Union Glacier, most to support planes that are on call to rescue adventurers in case anything goes wrong. All will be off the continent by month’s end, McDowell said.

Doing anything at all in Antarctica is very expensive and difficult, involving vast distances, subzero temperatures and unpredictable weather, even during the southern hemisphere summer when the sun never sets. Britain alone has lost 29 lives in Antarctica since the deaths of a five-member team led by R.F. Scott that reached the pole five weeks after Amundsen and succumbed to hunger and exhaustion on their way out. Their bodies weren’t found for eight months.

This summer, no skiers died and only eight had to be removed due to illness or injury, McDowell said.

“Modern communications makes a big difference,” he said.

___

Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions list of 2011-2012 trips:
http://www.antarctic-logistics.com/news

___

Follow Michael Warren on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/mwarrenap

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
23 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
24 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
24 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
30 days ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
A record-breaking Antarctic summer for polar trips