Update from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals.
Well, 12 days in to skiing to the South Pole, most the days have looked similar. The endless white in all 360 degrees, with subtle wind features dotting the surface, and the occasional uphill trending terrain that we can pick up visually. We have climbed 1000 meters slowly to this point over 100+ some odd Nautical Miles. Today we reached a mini milestone which was breaking 11 Nautical Miles in a day, 11.05 to be exact today during 7 hours of skiing or 7 one hour blocks separated by a mere 10 minute break each time.
When we reached our location to stop for the day, we peered to the east out on the horizon and saw mountains! Most likely the western edge of the Pensacola Range. It is quite beautiful out here in its own harsh way, to look over and see those lonesome mountains was powerful.
Scott also had an update today. He said they covered 21 kilometers today. It was quite cold. Scott skiied all day with the hood of his jacket up. He also mentioned that some of the skiing in the last few days had been quite difficult due to terrain called sastrugi. Sasturgi is defined as; parallel wavelike ridges caused by winds on the surface of hard snow, especially in polar regions. I have attached a photo of what sastrugi is. You can see how this would make skiing quite challenging!
Update from Ryan, Mountain Professionals.
We are making our way headlong into the 83rd degree of latitude and had a really strong day out today in some rather tough surface conditions. There is an ice stream that begins close to where we are now and so the elevation gain is quite a bit more dramatic as we can look out to the east and see the flat horizontal cloud layer at odds with our own ice horizon so we could visually see we were climbing, ever so gently. We skied 6:45 hrs/mins and covered another 10.79 Nautical Miles today. We decided to have a gathering in one tent for dinner, and it was good to not only go over some map and more technical stuff but also to just decompress and cover random topics that had us laughing out loud. A good break from the day in and out grind this far of the ski!
We have set our short term sights on 84 degrees with a longer term goal at the navigational waypoint we are skiing towards now some 98 Nautical Miles away, to avoid the crevasse fields of the Foundation Ice Stream. The tent is very warm and pleasant as it is just -10 Celsius out with no wind, so the sun has a greenhouse effect on our tent making them easy to lounge in. It does get quite cooler in the middle of the night as the sun sinks ever so slightly close to the horizon.
Scott checked in as well. For those not familiar with nautical miles Scott said they travelled 20km today. They are making good progress. They did not plan on being able to cover 20km a day until further along in expedition. Scott said he washed his feet in snow today. It was very cold but felt good!
Update from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals today.
Greetings from the team out here in the endless expanse of white. Our second full day went well, as we managed to ski 8.89 Nautical Miles already on our second day with heavy sleds and that in just 6 hours of actual skiing. It was quite warm today, maybe -10 degrees C. So we were skiing along with just a single layer of long underwear and our outer layer with all the zips open. I even saw Scott ski a pitch without gloves.
We are in the tents now with the warm sun and everything drying by hanging up from lines inside. Listening to some tunes and snacking on toasted breads with salami and olive oil!
We will continue our 8 pitches of 45 minutes tomorrow and see how it goes, eventually raising our minutes and ski time per day.
Scott checked in with a text as well. He said he is “feeling pretty good but tired at end of day. Hard work”
Scott sent a short text today after their first full day of travelling. No update from Ryan posted.
It was a good day but hard. It was cold with 25+ km/hr winds. We did 8 45 minute ski blocks and covered 16 km. It felt longer. We are in the tent now resting. Having dinner soon. It is comfortable in tent.
Great to get an expedition from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals.
And Away We Go!
November 17, 2016
We send our first dispatch from the actual ski expedition which has finally begun! We flew from Union Glacier today at 11 am in the Twin Otter airplane with skis and landed at the Messner Start for our full unsupported South Pole Ski expedition! The weather when we landed in the vast white of the ice covered sea was quite amazing. No wind, blue skies and most likely around -15 degrees Celsius. Pretty much ideal. So we took a few minutes to load up our sleds with the precious potato chips supply that had been riding in cardboard boxes down from Punta Arenas. And we were off! I wish I could say blazing fast but more like a slow slog with these very heavy sleds each weighing in at around 100 kg.
We have roughly 495 Nautical Miles ahead of us to reach the Pole so we knocked off about 3.5 Nautical Miles in under 3 hours of skiing to just get started. We finished early to go over some additional ways we will put up camp, make water from snow blocks, and all the many tasks. Early to bed now for our first full day in the morning.