Copeland and McNair reached the POI

Published on 28.12.2011 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing

A great day for the tandem Sebastian Copeland / Eric McNair

A great day for the tandem Sebastian Copeland / Eric McNair

© Expedition website

On 27 December, pair Sebastian Copeland/Eric McNair has reached the Pole of Inaccessibility. Great day for the explorers : until today no team had succeeded in reaching the POI unsupported.

Touching a piece of history

To better understand the feeling the two expeditioners had when they finally touched this piece of antarctic memory after a 53 days voyage (the Lenin's bust), it is better to follow (once more I hear you say) the exciting pieces of writing of Sebastian Copeland when at night in the tent, exhausted but most happy man, he describes the unfolding of this final day.

Excerpts, 27 December : "... Good thing as it was forty five degrees off: we almost overshot it! We lifted off one last time and rode practically next to each other, in formation. Within minutes, I raised a fist in the air and screamed, looking over at Eric who did the same! Ahead of us, sticking from the horizon were two markers; we sped toward them."

"The tall sastrugi we were now crossing at a ninety degree angle no longer mattered; the burn in my legs was forgotten; and the adrenaline actually warmed my toes! In no time, we were closing in. Each foot of ice separating us from what I had so long planned for was now disappearing under my skis. We could now make out a thin, derelict communications tower, and the remains of a drilling tower."

And of course, the famed bust of Lenin, sticking out of the ice on a small wooden tower, at once stoic, incongruous and forlorn in this desolate space; like a Napoleon on a frozen Elba, in a timeless exile. The rest of the base was somewhere below our skis. We passed the tower, made a slow downwind turn, and simultaneously set down our kites."

"Fifty three days, and we were there. Eleven hours on the trail, and 96 kilometers later, the Antarctica winds relented and honored our effort by letting us close the gap with our head high and a glory’s grace. We hugged and laughed. My lips were seized by the biting cold, but I mumbled something about accomplishment in life being so fleeting that it must be celebrated. We were giddy. I set up a tripod to freeze the moment in time. Because a photo, you see, is never fleeting."

Entire crossing compromised ? An Issue remaining uncertain...

Of course they are overwhelmed to have been able to reach that strategic point. And of course they still think to reach SP after that.

But as far as the full transcontinental crossing is concerned (as it was the main objective at the first place), that feat is beginning to feel compromised. Copeland of course has something to say about that issue (26 December) : " ... It’s not over until the fat lady sings, but whistling wind outside hints that she may be warming up. We have just about a month left on the expedition, during which to complete around two thousand kilometers, twelve hundred of which could be done in ten to twelve days, given the regularity of the winds in that region. That still does not leave much room for down days. And given how hampered we have been with those, it’s easy for the spirit to feel stirred…if not shaken...."

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