Only time will tell…

Published on 08.12.2011 - South Pole 1911-2011 NPI

Titan Dome is as famous as the Pole of Inaccessibility

Titan Dome is as famous as the Pole of Inaccessibility

© Olav Orheim & Stein Tronstad / Norwegian Polar Institute

The four Norwegians sent by the NPI are now facing their last bugbear, the slopes of the Titan Dome. So far they had some other frightening challenges, such as the slopes and crevasses of the Axel Heiberg glacier. They have overcome them all.

The latest figures

7 Dec (day 38) : Position: S 87 38.490, E 178 08.278 / Temperature: -28°C in the morning, -22°C in the evening / Wind: 4–6 m/s from the east / Elevation: 3090 metres / Distance traversed: 53 km /  Distance behind Amundsen: 76 km / Total distance traversed: 1048 km / Distance remaining to the South Pole: 263 km

6 Dec (day 37) : Position: S 87 10.180, E 179 10.160 / Temperature: -29°C / Wind: 10–12 m/s from the southeast / Elevation: 2953 metres / Distance traversed: 24 km / Distance behind Amundsen: 105 km / Total distance traversed: 995 km / Distance remaining to the South Pole: 316 km

5 Dec (day 36) : Position: S 86 57.688, E 178 49.376 / Temperaturw: -29°C / Wind: 10–12 m/s from the southeast / Elevation: 2953 metres / Distance traversed: 19 km / DDistance behind Amundsen: 94 km / cTotal distance traversed: 973 km / cDistance remaining to the South Pole: 338 km

4 Dec (day 35) : Position: S 86 47.710, E 179 23.843 /  Temperature: -24°C /  Wind: 4–6 m/s from the southeast / Elevation: 2950 metres / Distance traversed: 58 km
Distance behind Amundsen: 79 km /  Total distance traversed: 954 km / Distance remaining to the South Pole: 357 km

Their last bugbear ?

Before speaking about the Titan Dome, here is a lesson of courage from these stout-hearted expeditioners : on 4 December, when they woke up, they were all ill. Jan Gunnar had migraine, Vegard tumbled out of the 4-man tent only half conscious, leaving his tent-mate Harald Dag prostrate inside struggling not to vomit. Stein was feeling the effects of altitude sickness. Despite all that, as soon as the wind began to blow, "We rigged up two little convoys, each consisting of one accomplished ski-sailor, two sleds, and one man with the skills needed for being towed. And when the day was over, the morning’s miserable group had done a full 58 kilometres. A new record! ..."

Now the Titan Dome they are so afraid of ! With its  3.200 m elevation and with the records we have from other expeditions which all described this place as terrible as hell. Hurricane force winds, temperature below 40°C, a snow surface as hard as reinforced concrete.

Well the norwegians group is for the moment negociating the slopes of the Titan Dome and the things do not seem so terrifying after all. That was for the morning hours. But later in the day, it was a bit of a fracas ! "... The wind blew hard; the sun disappeared in a total white-out; visibility was down to 30 metres", they wrote yesterday 7 December. "It would have been indefensible to have more than one person sailing at any time. But here’s how we solved it: our top-notch ski sailor Jølle towed the entire expedition – four sleds and three people. At speeds of up to 30 km/h (!) the entire team flew through the mists, only touching the surface now and then. This was Jølle’s day, no doubt about it. Even better conditions have been forecast for tomorrow. In that case, we will be in time for the Jubilee celebration. ..."

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