Enjoying every part of it

Published on 13.12.2010 - The Fuchs Foundation

Lindsay pulling sledge

Lindsay pulling sledge

© Fuchs Foundation's website

The teachers of the Fuchs Foundation are now in the very heart of their adventure. Even when they have to face sastrugis fields, they do enjoy every single moment of it.

In our last dispatche, we have written -only reproducing a part of the expedition diary : "What makes this Fuchs Foundation trip so interesting ? Many answers will appear during their four weeks voyage. But one of them is already obvious : they are not more than 10 km away from the ALE basecamp and already they progress in a zone which has never been explored before! ...

People have been there before

This is not quite true. Here is the comment of the expedition manager written on the 1 dec : "... You may have noticed that at times the teachers blogs have been announcing that they are the first into the Buchanan Hills, and that they 'have been going where no one has gone before.' This is not the case. This has been over exuberance on the teachers part afraid, as the region has been explored before; expecially by the United States Geological Survey in the 1960's and 1970's. The geologist John Splettstoesser was one such explorer who spent time in the area. The Fuchs teachers may well stand on a point of snow that has not been trodden on or camp in a spot that has not been slept on. But human eyes have seen the vistas before.Certainly the teachers are travelling in areas where very few people have been, and that they are carrying on a legacy of exploration that began many years ago. ..."

Progressing in the valley near the Buchanan Hills, the group is going from one temporary camp to another temporary camp. They usually stay two or three days on the same spot -allowing them enough time to proceed to their own scientific obervations. One thing is certain : during the first week of their trek, they had a splendid weather. "We had a fantastic week," wrote  Roussel on 1 December. "Geing patient whilst in Punta Arenas really paid off. In every temporary camp we had, there was no wind. Zip. Nada. Even our amazing guides carl Alvey and Carolyn Bailey are impressed with the weather..."

But everyone knows that in the Antarctic weather changes quickly and sometimes drastically. Lisa on 5 December (whereas team has travelled to another valley) : "... Within ten minutes of our tents going up however, the clouds came in, it began to snow and the wind picked up. As a result, when we emerged from our tents this morning, the temperature with wind chill was down to -36°C and it was hard to work out which was snow and which was sky. Everything had blended together meaning that there was very little contrast or visibility. ..."

Sastrugis drains every bit of mental strength

These last days, the team encountered an other face of the 6th Continent, not easy at all to deal with when you are unfamiliar with : the sastrugis fields ! "Within ten minutes of our tents going up however, the clouds came in, it began to snow and the wind picked up. As a result, when we emerged from our tents this morning, the temperature with wind chill was down to -36°C and it was hard to work out which was snow and which was sky. Everything had blended together meaning that there was very little contrast or visibility. ... Sastrugi are the wave-like patterns that form on snow due to wind. Unfortunately, travelling through this type of terrain with two sledges full of food, equipment and clothing (and by now, a significant amount of human waste) drains every bit of physical and mental strength in your arsenal, with sledges regularly getting stuck."

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