“Keep plugging at it !”

Published on 08.12.2011 - South Pole and Back - Ski & Kite

These are Richard Weber's words when he wants to encourage his tourists. The progression is unfolding quite well though, but the snow is really too soft to glide on.

All in one, everything is going allright for the clients of Richard Weber. They are all feeling stronger, totally acclimatised ("The temperature is -20C to -25C and we are now totally acclimatised. We are so used to it that we are not wearing our down jackets at all, just our thermals and windproofs", Chris, 8 december), their morale is high, the sleds of course are getting lighter every day, Chris de Lapuente's shoulders no longer ache quite as badly as before, and from time to time, they can take very invigorating snow baths. In other words, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

All this would be true if the snow would be less soft and sticky. On 6 December de Lapuente writes : "The snow is very soft. We reckon that when we were stuck in Punta Arenas, due to bad weather on Antarctica making it impossible to land the planes, there must have been massive snowstorms in this region. The impact this has had on us is pretty catastrophic. We cannot glide, we have to step and with each step we sink about 10cm. The sleds, which have been designed to glide, obviously sink too. It's like trying to ski across the desert. Richard has the toughest job as he leads and breaks the path for the rest of us to follow in his tracks. It's really hard work.

This has obviously affected our timing. Yesterday we covered only 22 kms and today we managed 24 kms....in 8.5 hrs. Not good. We certainly won't make it to the Pole for Christmas Day, we are now aiming for the 31st. We are not even a third of the way there after 14 days of skiing. We reckon that we are going to have to increase our ski days by an hour, taking us up to 9.5 hours each day. We have to hit the 31st or we start to run out of food."

But from another point of view, they have reasons to turn the 'tough' days into 'good' days. De Lapuente on 8 December : "... Actually, as we climb higher, the conditions are becoming easier in the sense that the snow is icier and so we are able to glide again. A relief from the awful plod, plod, plod... "

"... but today, the 8th Dec, we are turning SOUTH towards the SOUTH POLE! At long last! It will be very good for morale. By the end of today we are hoping to have climbed to 1500m and to cross the 86th degree, which means another chocolate treat! From now on, with the snow easier to move across, we are hoping to cover 30 kms per day. This means we are now aiming to reach the South Pole by the 29th December. ..."


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