McNair/Copeland : 490 kil + 150 kil = 640 kil still to cover
Published on 05.01.2012 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing
After having reached the POI, pair McNair/Copeland is heading towards SP. But things are not easy. First Copeland's toes are still in bad shape. Second, they have make a detour of 150 kil to avoid a forbidden area called The Clean Air Sector.
When following the pair McNair/Copeland, one has mixed feelings.
To one side, one feels that the guys are exhausted and getting ready for the end of the trip. Excerpts (30 January by Copeland) : "... To be honest, I am getting ready for the end of the trip, too. With today’s sastrugi ride, my toes, knees and ankles have been feeling it. I am getting fatigued on the longer stretches, and the weight loss has been robbing my vitality. But the end is in site; we have about twenty days left, and the South Pole -if we get there!- will mark a break for the remainder..."
On the other hand, we are amazed to see that in one day, even with the injuries Copeland has on his toes (both big nails are gone), they can cover 165 kil ! Knowing that they kite by half hours sections, taking the time between two legs to walk around to redistribute the blood flow. Knowing also that after last week's petrol leak, this time they were the screws top of one of Copeland's thermos which had exploded, one has to admit that these two guys are doing some unbelievable things down there.
Dogged by bad luck
Also they seem to be dogged by bad luck : the first leak (fuel), the second one (the thermos of both guys, one with tea, one with water), the stowaway snow inside the sledge, the three days stop because of the storm, the brain rattling surfaces they encounter day after day, and now this detour they have to make because of a specially protected area called the Clean Air Sector.
What are these Clean Air Sector areas ? They are areas determined by some stations (The british Halley station has one, the Amundsen-Scott base too) heavily protected from human pollution where scientists can mesure what they consider as the cleanest air in the world. For more information visit this site (United States Antarctic Program, USAP), or this one (Bristish Antarctic Survey).
This means that McNair and Copeland have still 640 kil to cover (instead of 490) because they are not allowed to enter the Soutth Pole Clean Air Sector.
As far as the closing to Hercules Inlet is concerned, pair says that they are still uncertain. But when one reads between the lines, it becomes obvious that they won't be able to do the SP > Hercules Inlet trip.