Reconsidering reaching the Pole of Inaccessibility ?

Published on 03.12.2011 - Antarctica 2011-12 Legacy Crossing

They are still at 1.080 km from the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI)

They are still at 1.080 km from the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI)

© Expedition website

After 29 days on the ice, Sebastian Copeland and teammate Eric McNair are analysing the situation : has reaching the POI become but an after thought ?

Relative slow progression

On day 27 on their kite/crossing of the Antarctic, both men are doubtful about the rest of their trip. So far, the trek has unfolded almost perfectly, except the fact that they lost some time in the beginning of their voyage when they had to go back to collect a pair of ski left behind in Novolazarevskaia base. An other factor to take into consideration is the relative slowness of their progression.

On day 26 (30 November) of their voyage, Copeland reconsider the follow up of the trip. He writes : "I am computing mileage and days every night, and based on a daily average of 45 kilometers per day, we should be able to make both poles. The winds are likely to be weakening however, especially between the POI and South Pole, a section which remains a large variable. For now, the target is to make 72 kilometers daily average until December 15, the date on which I would like to reach POI, 1.080 kilometers from here. We will then have 26 days to reach South Pole, 800 kilometers further, with a daily average of 30 kilometers per day. This figures some pulling days when the wind is absent–and likely the toughest sections of the expedition, given the altitude, soft snow and temperature… But for now, we focus on tomorrow. ..."

But looking closely at the datas of the trip, this option seems a bit unrealistic :

  • 07 Nov (Day 2) : 5 km
  • 10 Nov (Day 5) : 14 km (total distance travelled : 31.43 km)
  • 12 Nov (Day 7) : 43.03 km
  • 13 Nov (Day 8) : 12.5 km (total distance travelled : 74 km)
  • 14 Nov (Day 9) : 10.84 km
  • 15 Nov (Day 10) : 3.9 km
  • 18 Nov (Day 13) : 15.16 km (total distance travelled : 125 km)
  • 20 Nov (Day 15) : 72 km
  • 24 Nov (Day 19) : 38.5 km
  • 25 Nov (Day 20) : 52.3 km (total distance travelled : 305 km)
  • 26 Nov (Day 21) : 75.3 km
  • 29 Nov (Day 25) : 47.32 km
  • 01 Dec (Day 27) : 43.1 km

Why are we doing this ?

Besides we ould like to quote Copeland about the everlasting question 'why do these expeditioners feel the needI to submit themselves to some wretched feats of torture for the mere objective of reaching a goal' ? A nice piece of thinking.

Here is what he writes on 7 November,n the day 3 of the expedition : "... Yet the is a characteristic deeply ingrained in the human psyche, as universal and timeless as existence itself. To prove something; to stand out; those are the more obvious reasons but they don’t tell the whole story. It would be too simple, besides, there are many ways to stand out, and if this were the reason, more people would be doing it. In fact, there is a gene that activates at the sight of a mountain peak and dictates the will to climb it; or a frozen body of water and suggests swimming it. In this case, something undefined allowed the thought of crossing one of the more inhospitable region on earth germinate in our mind and join the company of other crazies for whom this seemed to be a perfectly sound idea. It isn’t.

And today illustrated why. In stark contrast to yesterday, we woke up to howling winds lashing at the tent making a move out of the reasonably comfortable den sound rather uncivilized. But the inescapable truth about this type of effort is that the miles don’t cover themselves; and waiting only means more work to follow. Getting up to the plateau with 400 pounds in tow is to enter a world of pain. The winds which reached forty miles per hour today ad a frosty touch to the set up. But it was the surface that we encountered in the second half of our six hour venture–about four and a half of which spent walking–that could break your spirit were it not for the hard nose stubbornness required in this type of effort. ..."

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