YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: The next five…
Q: Why didn’t you use a helicopter? (by Lorna Wright)
A: The challenge was to try and cross the continent on the surface during the winter. Helicopters and various fixed-wing aircraft do operate in the Antarctic in the summer months but even then they are often at their limit in terms of the conditions. They all leave the continent at the end of the summer because in the winter its too cold and the frequent storms and permanent darkness would make it too dangerous.
A: How’s your holiday going? (by Edie)
Q: The food is great, the accommodation is ‘cosy’, the weather is cool and you never see the neighbours. Highly recommended as a peaceful getaway.
Q: Would you do it again? (by Kevin Hensman)
A: There has been a lot of polar experience behind this attempt but it’s pushed the boundaries of what has been tried before. Undeniably we have learnt some lessons and hindsight will inevitably reveal more. It would be great to develop our ideas and come back for another attempt.
Q: What are the long term plans on how the Ice Team will get back to civilisation when the right time comes? Back to where you started out and then be picked up by the ship that brought you? (by Kathy Etzel)
A: At the moment we are waiting for the daylight hours to increase and the weather to stabilise a bit – this is a common time of year for storms and strong winds. We will then start retracing our route back towards the coast. The first 40km is going to be tricky as there is nasty and complex crevassing and although we came that way southbound we will need to be very cautious. Fortunately we have plenty of time, which is why we are waiting for better conditions. It’s likely we will have to bulldoze snow into crevasses and build snow bridges to get through many sections so progress is likely to be slow. What many people don’t realise is that in this difficult terrain we have to break down our loads to reduce weight and increase manoeuvrability. This means that we have to relay backwards and forwards and this not only takes time but it also means we have to cross crevasses many times. At worst that will mean 14 passes with a 25-tonne vehicle plus whatever it is towing. Our eventual departure from the continent is still in the planning stages but it’s important to say that none of our equipment will be abandoned.
Q: How were the Ruroc helmets? (by Dan Rees)
A: These helmets are great at keeping the head warm with a thin balaclava underneath. Very comfy fit.