www.justgiving.com/icecold

Quick geography lesson

Firstly, my navigation chart of Antarctica is predominantly white, there really aren’t many features on it. Secondly, it’s all rather approximate: for example under ‘contour accuracy’ is listed the fact that contours are neither reliable nor even approximate. Most crevasse locations are labelled with ‘reported in 1966′, or whatever year. (The 1960s appear to have been good years for mapping – or good years for falling down crevasses.)

The shoreline is also ‘undetermined’ and the team started their trek from north of the Antarctic shoreline, standing on a floating ice-shelf called the Ronne Ice Shelf (named after a science foundation). If you are looking at Antarctica on a globe, this would be on the north coast, slightly west of centre, and north north-west of the Pole. If you look at ‘The Trip’ page on this site, very approximately the coast north of the ‘N’ in ‘Antarctica’. I think it really does depend whose map you are looking at! Tidal cracks in the shelf can shift during the day as it rises and falls with the tide, but the ice-shelf itself is a permanent feature.

Immediately to the south of the team lies a massive ice stream flowing north towards the Ronne Ice Shelf. Ice stream flows create crevasses around them (marked on my chart as a permanent feature – without needing to be reported). So the route the team are taking will not be a straight line toward the Pole until they have passed to the west of the ice stream margins. This will take approximately 18 days, before they collect their first cache of supplies and turn about 45 degrees to the east and head directly for the Pole. 

Days begin at 8am, with the team setting out at about 10am and skiing until about 7pm. The latest report is that the sun is still strong and the group are all doing well. The daily distance is steady at around 20km, but my unreliable and not-even-approximate contour lines suggest the gradient is increasing.

Any questions?

- AH