YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: The next five…
Q: What is the Ice Teams’ unanimously favourite guilty pleasure when you get downtime? (by Gina Callini)
A: In the modern world communications are often taken for granted but given where we are and the fact that we are totally isolated in a polar winter we are incredibly lucky to have an Iridium Pilot satellite system with both voice and internet access. This is our window to the world and it allows us not only to send out our updates, news items, science data, weather information, talk directly to the media, schools and charity events but it also keeps us in touch with friends and family, and that’s been very important to all of us. On a more domestic level we all enjoy our breadmaker with a fresh loaf of bread every day. It doesn’t last long between the five of us (2 1/2 slices each) but it’s a great treat.
Q: Is there anything so far you wish you had done differently? (by Marie McCormack)
A: Things can nearly always be improved and this trip is no different. This journey is still far from over and that is what we are focusing on right now. It’s just a bit too early to be analysing what changes we might make for any future attempt but I’m sure that will come. The five of us on the ice are just part of a much larger and very experienced team that has pulled this attempt together. Firstly, we need to finish the journey and then I’m sure we will all sit down and discuss what has happened and share ideas.
Q: Do you feel you still have time left to complete the trip to the finish point? (by David Warren)
A: Unfortunately we will not be continuing in our attempt to cross the continent. That decision was made back in mid-June and since then we have been focusing our efforts on our science, education and charitable aims. We will shortly start retracing our route back to our start point.
Q: Do you think in hindsight that instead of using bulldozers, maybe using piston bullies as a prime mover and having longer and wider skis on the sledges would have been better at coping with crevasse fields? With the low ground pressure of the tracks of the bullies or would the tracks fail with the -50 temps? (by Robin Johnson)
A: As explained in one of the answers above, the D6N’s were chosen because of their pulling ability and the fact that they have metal tracks. A Piston Bully or similar machine just wouldn’t have the ability to pull the very heavy loads and we wanted to avoid the use of rubber/plastic tracks. Lower vehicle ground pressure would have definitely helped in the crevassed areas but total weight and weight distribution was even more of an issue.
Q: What wildlife have you seen, if any? (by Tracey Bodenham)
A: When we arrived at the coast in February we saw many seals, penguins and other birds. Once the ship was offloaded we travelled inland to lay a depot of fuel and during that journey we saw a few skuas and snow petrels but by the start of winter (20th March) all of those birds had migrated north before the polar winter took hold. Since then we have seen nothing but our fellow companions.