Ryan Waters from Mountain Professionals posted a blog update yesterday.
These can be the most challenging days in a full length polar ski trip, when you are very close to the goal but just literally have to keep putting in your time with no short term landmarks to aim for.
We had a great little Christmas here, too much chocolate accompanied by a big dinner and a sip of incredible Bailey’s Irish creme to finish! The past two days since Christmas day have been hard mentally, but very good as far as distance.
Tonight we are at 89’25 so we are hoping that we will arrive in 3 days time at the South Pole if all goes well. This means we aim to be skiing into the bottom of the world at the night of the 30th. We battle the little aches and pains and all the usual things that come along with skiing 470 Nautical Miles over the last 40 days! But we hold on strong and keep on pushing to the finish!
There have been no blog posts on Ryan Waters Mountain Professional site since December 19th so I thought I would provide an update. The team is slowly making progress but have had no easy days in the last week. They got out of the really tough sastrugi filled terrain on December 23rd. Unfortunately although the terrain got flatter the snow was not good. It was the “anti-glide” type of snow that Scott talked about in his blog post on December 9th. This makes every ski step slow and difficult. The weather has also been more challenging as well. The days are cold, windy and the light is very flat making hard to see. Scott is also suffering physically as an old ankle injury is acting up with the repetitive movement every day and he said that he is in pain pretty much every minute they are skiing. Despite all the difficulties they are averaging about 20 kilometers per day. They did take a half rest day on Christmas day. This was a hard day for Scott emotionally as it was difficult to be away from family and friends on Christmas. The rest day was good however as he now seems more focused and motivated to make it to the Pole. They are thinking they will reach the Pole on December 30th or December 31st. Only 3 or 4 more days to go!
Update from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals
It has been a pretty tough few days down here on the White Continent, working through the heavily sastrugi, areas of the 87th Degree. But the team is working hard and is keen on reaching some better terrain soon. The weather has been a bit more challenging too, as we finally got some real Antarctica conditions… white outs, low contrast light and really cold wind.. up here on the plateau it has dropped several degrees and the wind bites more!
We are just 9 miles away from 88 latitude and look forward to breaking into that target tomorrow with another days work! We were playing Christmas tunes over dinner as we can imagine what things are like back in everyone’s respective home countries and send our best for safe travels this week to loved ones! We will just keep skiing South and talk soon!
Scott has also been sending text updates….I think yesterdays summarizes how he is feeling these days. “The sun was out today but the wind was raging, It was really cold. I wore my down pants all day. It was the hardest day yet…sastrugi hell, going uphill. Unbelievably hard. I fell 2 times.” After a couple of hours of recovery he was feeling better. He said ” I think 2 more days of travel should get us out of the really hard stuff. Last 2 degrees are supposed to be really good terrain.”
Update from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals
We are currently sleeping in the tents after a half rest day today at 86’38 South, so hopefully in two days we will break on through to the last 3 degrees to reach the Pole. It was great to sleep in this morning and go big on the coffees and podcasts or books, as the wind whipped at the tent. We definitely see a short term weather change now, and word from the folks at Union Glacier is that the next 3 days will be overcast, windy, and low contrast, which unfortunately for us is just as we enter into the start of the notoriously turbulent surface near 87 degrees. Here the sastrugi is about 60 Nautical Miles or one degree of latitude wide. Oh well! It’s not easy to ski a full length unsupported trip to the South Pole, so we dig in and lace up the boots and go for it!
Update posted on Mountain Professionals website written by Scott.
A day of hard pulling. I thought snow was supposed to be slippery.
The day started like any other. Wake at 6 and start the stove. Poke head outside for weather forecast. Sunny, a few clouds, crisp but not cold, and just enough wind to keep us from overheating. Eat breakfast (oatmeal again), pack, put on boots and jacket, then out of tent to pack sled and take down tent. On skis for 7:51 ready to go.
Within the first minute we knew we were in for a tough day. We had a dusting of snow last night and the snow here in Antarctica is cold and dry with very sharp crystals. Pulling a heavy sled is a lot of work at any rate, but add in additional obstacles and it becomes grueling.
Today we had uphill, drifting snow and sastrugi to contend with plus this new antiglide snow. The science of sliding works this way: as a ski or sled moves across the snow the friction creates heat and this rounds and melts the snow crystals creating a thin film of water that creates glide. Here the snow is so cold and dry there is no meting and the crystals are so sharp and tough they dig into our skis and sled at every step and create a glide similar to sandpaper.
We pushed through, feeling the harness dig into hips and shoulders as we leaned into every step. In the end we made 12.2 Nautical Miles (about 22km) which was very respectable considering the terrain. We are now camped in a beautiful location and the sun is shining as we recover and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.
An update today from Ryan Waters, Mountain Professionals
We are moving along nicely and can now see the Thiel Mountains off to the West on the horizon. We had our longest distance day to date on December 2 clocking in 13.2 Nautical Miles and have worked hard the past two days with well over 12 miles each day. The team continues to work really well together and are remarkably efficient already working at each aspect of this trip, our camp set up and take down, our ski blocks and breaks, all are like clockwork and the individuals all work so well as a group. It is great to see! The surface conditions change each day, and today they were slow… with sastrugi and slow snow surface, but the weather was perfect to be out, it was around -15 C with very light wind, so we are skiing in fairly light gear right now! Tomorrow we reach a waypoint known as Thiels Corner, and then we turn our compass on a bearing due South almost directly at the Pole. As we lay here in our tents we are exactly 309 Nautical Miles away from the South Pole!
From the map you can see the general route the team is taking. They began their journey at the Ronne Ice Shelf.