Copeland & McNair : finally, they made it on time to Hercules Inlet…
Published on 25.01.2012 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing
Great success for pair Copeland - McNair : they finally arrived on time at Hercules Inlet after being tentbounded for 72 hours three days ago. Thanks to the the winds that have been favorable these last days. Thanks also to the awesome courage and abiding determination of both explorers during the entire voyage.
A memorable final day
A memorable final day for the pair Copeland/McNair with winds blowing from beginning of the day until the very end of the trip. In fact they kited for sixteen hours non stop. On the way they ran into the two Aussies Cas and Jonesy who have still two or three more days to go. Aussies asked Copeland about his ribs, Copeland asked Cass about his approaching wedding ; as Copeland is also getting married quite soon after his return home, both agreed that "thinking about their weddings, and wives-to-be on the trail always brought strength, a smile and a warm feeling in the challenging times."
Another extraordinary thing happened that day, 24 January. Let's give the word to Copeland for the last time : "I have mentioned that my sledge had developed a six inch crack two months ago. That crack remained stable for the following 3500 kilometers, and the worst I can say about it was the amount of stowaway snow it accumulated inside. Yesterday, the crack had started showing increased signs of weakening, and throughout today, the weakening increased to a widening fissure, while the runner under its right ski begun falling apart. I removed some of the contents, and gave them to Eric. I attempted briefly to strap the trace to the back, and pull it backwards; but the unavoidable fishtailing generated while kiting, had disastrous consequences: the sledge was now unraveling, and its right side was utterly falling apart. Eric followed me closely for the final four hours of traveling, so scared I was to lose items from the widening gap. It seemed utterly possible that, at our speeds of travel, the sledge would simply split in half! Instead, it held, worsening incrementally, until our final landing spot, where a massive crack along its side finally opened, which would have made further travel simply impossible. That sledge had held for the entire trip, just to die, on my lap, on the very last moment! Amazing. A little angel was evidently sitting on my shoulder…"
"We have been the first to do so..."
"We set down on our final campsite at 22:30 hours. We had been on the trail for close to sixteen hours. We had spent three months crossing the Antarctica continent, from East to West, coast to coast, over four thousand kilometers and have been the first to do so in the long history of polar expeditions. Eric and I had succeeded in the third and final mandate of this mission. Exhausted, we hugged and laughed. I called ALE, our logistics support team, to report on our position, and was met with enthusiastic and congratulatory exclamations. We will be picked up tomorrow if conditions are favorable. Two days later, we will ship off to Punta Arenas, Chile. Our work here is done: mission accomplished! And now, I could really use a bath! ..."
And now for the last figures : they have travelled 231.5 kilometers the last day. They left on November 4th, exactly 81 days ago; in that time they covered a total distance of 3.854 kilometers (about 4.100 adjusted kilometers, or 2.500 miles) and arrived one day earlier than Copeland's scheduled assumption!
The 1.120 kilometers from South Pole have been covered in 12 days for an average of 93.3 kilometers per day, which doubles their daily average for the entire trip -about 47.5 kilometers per day for 81 days.
Interestingly, it also took them 12 days to cover the 880 kilometers separating the POI from the South Pole, for an average there of 73.3 kilometers per day. Their Novo-POI daily average was just about 34 kilometers per day.