Copeland/McNair : Ten liters of white fuel gone (in the sledge) !

Published on 01.01.2012 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing

10 liters fuel gone : a major setback for pair Copeland/McNair

10 liters fuel gone : a major setback for pair Copeland/McNair

© Expedition website

On 29 December, because of one sastrugi too many hit by Copeland's sledge, one of the fuel container cracked a small hole from so hard object beneath it that half of his sledge contents was straight away contaminated. What a setback !

"I will smell like a gas attendant at a petrol station for the rest of the trip" (Copeland)

Here is how the things happened described by Coepland (excerpts of 29 December update) : "... Somehow, ... one of the fuel container just had it with being bounced around. After the sledge hit one sastrugi too many, it cracked a small hole from so hard object beneath it, and contaminated half of the sledges contents. This includes clothes, personals, and most importantly, food. ... It will leave its signature smell–and taste–with anything it comes into contact with. Besides, the food bags generally have all developed small holes from the bounce, so if the fuel simply looked at it, the content was contaminated. ... We quickly emptied all the content onto the ice–amidst blowing snow conditions!–and aired it all out. ...  In the final tally, I have lost thirteen lunches, and a twenty day bag of precious Herbalife protein powder, and hot chocolate for the remainder of the trip. It could have been worse. With emergency redundancy–five days–it brings the lunch food count to eight losses which, with proper rationing, can be managed. And of course the fact that I will smell like a gas attendant at a petrol station for the rest of the trip. And no more hot water bottle. With five liters and change left, the real pressure is now getting to the South Pole within no more than fifteen days, as we burn a third of a liter per day. Beyond that, we will lose our ability to melt water and cook dinners–you get the picture. We can resupply fuel at the pole. ..."

The race is on 

Every day, both Copeland and McNair (but perhaps more Coepland than McNairc) think about the rest of the trip. For sure, even with 10 liters fuel gone, they will get to the SP. On day 55, which is 29 December, for instance, they have covered 147 km, bringing the pair to 662 kil from the SP and averaging a 20 kil per hour pace. Quite a result. But every second of the day, they think about the after Pole. Will they be able (and will they be on time) to reach Union Glacier ?

But we are in Antarctica. And the next morning, as they hurried up to pack and leave, suddenly, the wind dropped dead after an hour. Yes, there was a good small breeze on the ground, but in a reverse of yesterday, not a flutter of wind above. And so was the next day, 31 December.

As they have no more than fourteen to fifteen days to reach the SP (before they run out of fuel for cooking), they decided to give pulling a try. An academic try of course (because since they left, the distance they could cover hauling would remain negligible). But the lack of physical exercise (hauling conditionning), this pulling turned to be a real slave labor. More : on their worst kiting day, they can cover in 6 minutes what takes more than an hour of waking and sweating with the skis on. And the bad news is that the next three days forecast -strating last year on 31 December- calls for dead calm.

Their race is on? The suspense itou...








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