Copeland & McNair : Hopeful Again…

Published on 24.01.2012 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing

The pair Copeland/McNair has finally touched good winds (or vice versa) and could cover 367 kilometers the last two days. The are now at 230 kil from Hercules Inlet. If they find good winds today or tomorrow, this distance is doable in one day...

What a suspense for the pair Sebastian Copeland - Eric McNair. They have been waiting in the tent for about three days. And all of a sudden, on 20 January, late in the afternoon, the favorable winds started blowing. And of course the choose to lift up the kites and move forwards. For a about four hours, they have had the best conditions of the all trip with them, smooth terrain and good winds ; but after that, they encountered the worst conditions they ever had on the trip.

Copeland's excerpts (20 January) : "... After four hours of some of the very best snow and flat terrain Antarctica had delivered, the ground begun hardening, and the sastrugi increased in size and volume. Within less than thirty minutes after the smoothest rides of the trip, we found ourselves in the densest, most shredded terrain we have experienced, with dips as great as a meter deep and large, hard sastrugi heads, all this over terrain that reminded me of over sized cheese grate! The wind had built through the day, and flying over this may well have loosened some of my fillings, and made my brain rattle! We switched to the thirteen meters, for easier maneuvering around the broken up grounds, while reducing our speed. On one occasion, my sledge wedged to a violent stop against a sastrugi head, from a twenty kilometers per hour speed. The force was such, that it ripped the leash attachment off my harness and tore the back of it completely. I was launched in the air by the newly released and powered up kite and landed squarely on my shoulder, on the hard ice. I had maneuvered around a sastrugi formation, but the sledge had slipped and collided head on with a four foot head. No break, luckily–neither for me nor the sledge. But I am not sure why. I rigged a different attachment on the harness, and we were back at it, with extra caution! Eventually, we came upon a road, or as much as what can be called a road out here, which amounts to a vehicle track over which at least three expedition recently added their own. Out here, it is the equivalent of a highway! The road leads to Hercules Inlet; from this location, any track would. We jumped on it. While still hard and cheese grate-like, it was clear of the large sastrugi dips and head, and removed navigation from the equation. But the winds soon dropped, and we had trouble keeping the thirteen’s in the air. Travel slowed to a crawl, and we packed the kites up, and set up the tent."

Their last position published (on 22 January) : South 82°02.720 - West 079°57.185 / Elevation 2763 feet. They have covered so far 3900 kilomters and with 230 kil to go they almost have the HI Mountain Range in sight...

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