News from Operations HQ
The Ice Team have broken free from the blue ice field at last and are now making their way south again, which any reader will know is very good news. The Ground Penetrating Radar was deployed for the first few kilometres yesterday and thankfully no evidence of crevassing was detected. This is key, as encountering a similar patch of blue ice or crevasse field as the one just covered would have serious implications right now on morale and progress.
Unfortunately, quite soon after they had started moving again, relaying in two loads per Cat, the team encountered hard snow verging on ice and had insufficient traction to pull the loads, forcing them to revert to three loads, or six in total. To put this into context, relaying with three loads per Cat means that for every 1km the team gains southwards, they have to travel 5km in total. Naturally this means that progress continues to be extremely slow and every day spent relaying like this puts them further behind schedule.
With only 4km travelled south yesterday the team was back to work early this morning in temperatures of -40C (the coldest to date) and winds in the region of 30 knots.
To get the team back on schedule is going to take a huge effort and will require very long days of near constant driving. A blog by Spencer Smirl will follow this update shortly setting out how the team has been preparing for this now certain eventuality.
Hugh Bowring, Operations HQ