Copeland/McNair : Finally at the Pole

Published on 11.01.2012 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing

Pair at South Pole on 9 January 2012

Pair at South Pole on 9 January 2012

© Expedition website

Despite all the serious setbacks and injuries they had on the way (Copeland lost his two sleeping bags the other day...) and particularly since the POI, pair Sebastian Copeland / Eric McNair made it finally to the South Pole.

Le prix de la combativité

During le Tour de France, every day the juges and a special committee of journalists and followers chose among the peloton a cyclist who has been the most deserving during the day, for his courage, tenacity or whatever. If we would have to give the same recompense 'le prix de la combativité' to one or two expeditioners this season for their courage and stamina, this award should go (according to us at least) to the pair McNair/Copeland.

We are not going to list all the setbacks they had on the way. they are too many. But remembering only the last ones with the two sleeping bags lost while kiting and the dressing material to take care of his toes is enough to give an overall idea of what has happened to the two guys since their departure on 6 November from the Novolazarevskaya russian base. Remembering also the the first setback which happened the very first day of their trip. Whereas the base was still in sight, one of their Iridium satphone turned NG. With only one phone, the expedition was already in serious jeopardy at that time.

But finally the duo arrived safely at the SP on day 65 of their voyage after having passed through the POI (Pole of Inaccessibility).

After 65 days of challenging travel

As the following writing is Copeland's, we leave to our visitors the pleasure to savour them : "... But all of a sudden, clearing from the distance, looming on the horizon, was the outline of a much larger complex. ... About ten kilometers in front of us stood the unmistakable outline of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, with its dome and futuristic looking research buildings, built on the very spot that has captured the imagination of all explorers and adventure seeker long before its discovery, one hundred years ago. I thought of Amundsen and Scott, and their successful reach, and with mixed emotion thought of all those who have, from one place or another, approached that point of the globe with the same knot in their stomach. And then I thought of us, here, today. ... A destination gives an expedition is sense of purpose; it is its DNA. And no destination holds more mystic than both Poles. For us, that purpose was about to be realized."

"But the South Pole, on that day, would not give itself up that easily: the sharp upwind tack would see to that."

"The South Pole Station is quite regulated; one thing that it regulates is where you can, and cannot go as you approach it. There are two flagged paths leading you in, and they are insistent that you follow them to avoid conflicting with their research fields, airports and other activities. Unfortunately for us, the path from our approach was a steep upwind tack that stole the glory out of our approach. It forced us to pull tacks, and slowed our speed considerably. ... "

"But somehow, foot by foot, we gained ground. At 00:30 GST, after sixty five days of challenging travel across the heart of Antarctica, we set our kites down and unclipped our harnesses at South 90°00.000: we had finally reached the iconic geographic South Pole!"

What the pair has decided to do next ? To land the kites for good. Or to try to reach HI on time, remains uncertain till today.

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