Encounter with… vehicle trails and a fuel depot

Published on 13.12.2011 - Antarctic Ice Expedition

Is Antarctica no longer what it once was ?

Is Antarctica no longer what it once was ?

© Expedition website

On 11 December, the Belgians had an unexpected encounter with the trails of vehicles and a fuel depot. Extreme World Races competition had gone through this place...

Is the Antarctic no longer what it once was ?

This unexpected (or is it really unexpected with more than 30 expeditions on the field this season ?) encounter poses a question : is the Antarctic no longer what it once was ? Of course this subject is too important to be answered in such an update. Nevertheless the Belgians give an interesting insight about it on 20 December, after having reached the fuel depot dropped off by the logistic of Extreme Wold Races trailers on 27 November when they were on their way to the South Pole.

Julie Brown (HQ staff) writes on 11 December : Without any doubt, and for the second day in a row, Dixie was made keenly aware of the visible increase of human presence in Antarctica since his initial visit 14 years ago. He did not rush to judgment or criticize these "signs of life," as Dixie humbly admits to also being part of the temporary population increase during the Antarctic summer. Plus, he and Sam realize that such fuel depots are placed for flights which transport not only eco-tourists (who possess the real potential to return to their homelands as engaged environmental ambassadors), but also hardy scientists and researchers who need to reach their remote fields of study.

The same day Sam reported : "Today we were heading for the fuel depot and at noon we arrived. A very surreal thing, that fuel depot. Until yesterday, we haven't seen any signs of life in this frozen desert, and suddenly we found ourselves sailing along surreal jeep tracks. For the most part, our scenery has been limited to sastrugi, clouds, and undulations in the landscape.  Other than that, nothing. 

But all of a sudden late this morning we saw black dots on the horizon. We came across more familiar jeep-tracks and a little later we were standing in the middle of a landing strip for polar aircraft. Scattered around these tracks were neatly stacked fuel drums in groups of 10.  Some were partially buried by storms, others had obviously only recently been deposited.  What an expensive encounter! Liquid gold they call it.  We couldn't resist taking our break there and as you can see in today's photo Dixie was inspired to refuel as well."

"... There was very little wind today, but we still were able to progress with the Nasawings. 8 square meters of fabric and 600 meters of line pulled us 63.7 kilometers further down our route. It was slow going but we were moving. Both Dixie and I were all smiles today."

Their last datas

  • 09 December 2011 - day 18 / Current Position: 82° 06' 39 S / 18° 23' 03 E / Distance done : 103 km
  • 10 December 2011 - day 19 / Current Position: 82° 54' 45 S / 20° 01' 01 E / Distance done : 93.4 km / Progression total = 934.8 kilometers
  • 11 December 2011 - day 20 / Current Position: 83° 38' 45 S / 19° 41' 55 E / Distance done : 81.7 km / Distance Total = 1016.5 km
  • 12 December 2011 - day 21 / Current Position: 84° 10' 43 S / 17° 45' 39 E / Distance done : 63.7 km Distance Total: 1080.2 km
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