“Pushing the Boundaries”

Published on 19.12.2011 - Antarctic Ice Expedition

Belgian pair is pressing hard

Belgian pair is pressing hard

© Expedition website

18 December was an epic day : everything seemed to be perfectly tuned to achieve a great distance. Result : 151 kms on Dixie & Sam's counter for a 12 hours kite. Almost faster than EWR cars and anyway more than a degree done.

Approaching SP

Sastrugis had changed directions, terrain was hard and flat enough, just a right wind, not too powerful, not too weak...  One of these days you'll remember. Sam : "... All of our prayers were answered today, smooth surface, good wind. The wind wasn't all that powerful, but it was just right.  Our speed was a comfortable 12km/hour, at times slightly faster. No stress, but a relaxing cadence. The terrain was irregular but hard and the sastrugi had changed direction so we could easily find our way around them. It was quite simply a great day. Dixie and I were all smiles all day long. We were dancing during our breaks and couldn't get enough of it. We kept saying, 'One more hour! One more hour!' untill it was 21:00 and we decided to stop. We need our sleep for physical recovery and since there is wind in the forecast for tomorrow, we want to be rested up and ready for it."

If the belgian team can hold this pace (they made another 100 km on 17 December), they should be in the South in a few days. Of course this will be a mental challenge also. On 18 December, Julie Brown (Expedition HQ and Dixie's wife) wrote : "... Dixie's experienced leadership will be important when he and Sam abruptly re-enter "society" in a few days.  Dixie knows that it can be confusing, tempting and downright perplexing to suddenly be confronted with all things civilized, knowing that they need to continue unassisted past the South Pole Station.  His graceful yet disciplined attitude must guide the Antarctic ICE compass to and through this first milestone point on the map.  It is indeed an art to maintain focus along a 100 day expedition, while still allowing for improvisation along the way.  At delicate moments, Dixie knows that the boundary line must be respected. ..."

"Where is my beloved Antarctica ?"

Confronted with theses evers lasting sastrugis mine fields, Dixie had a nostalgic question on 17 December : Where is my beloved Antarctica ?  "... Where is the frozen continent that I first met in 1997 when Alain Hubert and I only occasionally encountered short stretches of sastrugi?  Then the bulk of our kiting was done on much smoother terrain.  This year Sam and I have maybe had 10% of smooth sailing, while the rest has been completed on an ice surface that resembles a war zone.  The ice and snow appear to have been recently bombarded or, even more accurately, stealthily loaded with million of mines that have exploded and created pits, mounts, trenches, gullies, and other razor-like barriers.  What has gone on here?"

Apart from their obvious frustrations with Antarctica's terrain, Dixie and Sam report excellent spirits and continued passionate desire to move forward in style.  They are nursing their bodies each evening, especially the knees and backs which are taking a beating in the sastrugi mine-fields.

But the most important quality of both Dixie and Sam is their perspective:  they know that they have the choice to be there, and that it is a privilege they are living this experience. Armed with that positivity, they are already back at work, defensively weaving through the sastrugi, and allowing their minds to float to peaceful places.  All of it in harmony. ..."

Their last position : 87°48'53" S / 08°14'43" E (18 December)

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