A race against the clock
Published on 10.01.2008 - Optical Express South Pole Challenge
Bad news for the youngsters: the logistics people at ALE have told them they will not be able to pick them up from the South Pole after 25th January!
This is a major blow for the expedition. They have just reached the halfway point, i.e. the Thiel Mountains (in fact they actually got there on 3rd January). With the information passed on to them by ALE, they only have another 19 days to reach the Pole!
This has required a number of radical decisions to be taken. First of all, the team has left behind anything not strictly necessary for the rest of the expedition in the Thiels Mountains (as did Ernest Shackleton in 1915 when his expedition had to abandon the Endurance, which ended up being swallowed up by the ice). Second, they have decided to adopt a totally new daily rate of progress, which involves working to a 28-hour day, rather than 24. Their calculations show them that with this new 28-hour day, they can cover 20 nautical miles (37 km) a day.
This change of strategy is not only placing more stress on the expedition members, but is also depriving them of sleep, which in turn is making them significantly more tired. They are currently out on the ice for 14 hours a day instead of the previous 9. But the latest news is that the small team is progressing well and managing to do its 37 km per day.