Foot abandons his attempt
Published on 05.01.2011 - The South Pole and Back (solo)
After having reached the South Pole safely, Chris Foot has to yield to the facts : due to a late start at Hercules (and above all a late flight from Punta), he has no more time to make the return trip from South Pole. Next year, he'll be back, he said.
These last days, when he was approaching the Pole, everything went OK on board. Besides heavy winds and colder temperatures, Chris was making his way allright to the Pole. And he got there safely on 4th January, after 41 days of progression.
But then he had to announce that his attempt to become the first person to go to the South Pole and back from Hercules Inlet solo, unsupported and unassisted had to be abandoned.
Here is how he decide to make the statement : " ... As most are aware my start date of 9th Nov was delayed till 25th Nov meaning a planned 80 day return trip was condensed to 65 days. Before I departed there was options like the Messner route around 200+ shorter or a one way trip, and have a go at beating the speed record. A few individuals here including myself held onto to the notion that if I could get to the Pole in 40 days, which is a tremendous effort with a start weight of 130kg+ making 4 caches enroute the stats would read this - 25 days to return so roughly 24nm a day. This is all dependent on my condition after a 40 day out trip. My go-no go criteria would be all about my speed from 88 degrees to the Pole. If I could crack 20nm in a realistic amount of hours per day, covering the last degree in 3 days then the potential was there to complete this return in 25 days. This did not happen and pushing harder or increasing hours would of debilitated the effort and compounded fatigue and recovery. I have had plenty of experience of this cruel equation and this time, the math's does not add up. The position is this. I will have 22-23 days now with the last flight out of here on the 28th Jan.
"Brutal honesty tells me that it is impossible for ME to complete this or even come close. Add the 16 days lost and 38 days available, were all giggles and farts and lets get on with it. Reality, I don't have that option. Other option is to continue and throw the flag in the ground when the time runs out so setting a benchmark? Why do that when I will be here next year attempting this again so a pointless exercise, causing more trauma to the body for little gain. I am glad I went through with the whole return strategy and did not ditch weight, so it is a great rehearsal and has given me solid information about myself and Antarctica for next year. Though I had my downer between 88-89 degree as I knew it was slipping away, I have to be objective and recognize this as a huge success, and it is, anyone with Polar experience will endorse that looking at the start weight and 41 days, covering over 600nm...."
Having said that, Chris does not tell a word about what he will do with the supplies he left behind him on the ice. To ask the pilot to land on the way back and take them away with him or leave them where they are, leaving then these depot places not as pristine as they were before his passage?