First setbacks for the Moon/Regan Expedition

Published on 29.11.2010 - Moon Regan TransAntarctic Expedition

The Andrew Moon / Andrew Regan Expedition to the South Pole had hardly started when serious mechanical problems with the vehicles occurred. But the men are on the way and, after a fashion, the convoy is making progress.

Like all the other teams, the Moon/Regan Trans-Antarctic Expedition team arrived at the new ALE Union Glacier base camp on 25 November. Seven members of the Tour Operator’s staff had arrived by Twin Otter three weeks before; then, a first flight with 53 ALE male staff members had occurred on 24 November: they had left at 09:30 and had arrived at 14:00. After just enough time to unload the equipment, the IIyushyn was already on its way back to Punta Arenas, where it landed at 9 o'clock in the evening. One hour earlier, some members of Moon/Regan Expedition had gone to the airport in order to prepare the loading of the three vehicles.

On the following day therefore, all this season’s expeditionaries disembarked at Union Glacier at around 13:00 (GMT), welcomed by a bright sun and a breath-taking spectacle. Just time to unload the vehicles and to prepare them: the specific machine built for this expedition (the BIV) was not transported as is, but was assembled in situ like a bit of Meccano.

That was when the first problem occurred: the BIV wouldn’t start. Too cold for the carburettors. The team already had to have recourse to ALE’s assistance, which lent it a heat transfer tube that finally got the vehicle going after a fashion.

The following day, the Moon/Regan Expedition left Union Glacier at around 14:00. First fuel appointment: the former Patriot Hills camp, 70 km away. A first trial gallop, in a way. And first observations: the convoy would have to advance far more slowly than envisaged. The state of the terrain indeed preventing the various vehicles from travelling at the speed envisaged during the tests in Norway (between 40 and 50 kph).

Second setback : one of the two tracker vehicles had steering problems. On 27 November, the team wrote : "Perhaps because everything was going too well at this point, double disaster seemed to strike. Paul, piloting the BIV out in front, pathfinding the route across the surface suddenly came through on the radio “Hello Hello, I've lost all steering, repeat, have no steering. Need assistance”. In our truck it was a call we had dreaded, fearing the worst for the suspension system that we knew would be under stress in the conditions. As we approached we realised that the problem was not the suspension unit but the steering itself. "

"SSV1 had gone ahead and we decided to tow the BIV the short distance to the other vehicle where the tools and other equipment were on the trailer. Whilst doing this our SSV2 then started to struggle, an engine warning light coming and the engine switching to reduced power and onto only 6-cylinders. We limped to the camp point where SSV1 had stopped and as the team got together again, the mood in the team was flat."

The expedition is nevertheless continuing its journey to the Pole.

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