Archive for the ‘Communications & safety’ Category

Longest unsupported crossing bid on hold

31/05/2010

We’ve come to a tough decision.  As soon as we say that, it’s pretty much guaranteed you all know what we’re talking about; we’re going to have to put the world record attempt on the longest unsupported crossing of Antarctica on hold.

Now that we have had time to digest the lessons learned from our Greenland training trip and take stock of our financial position we have had to come to the conclusion that attempting the crossing this season is simply neither possible nor wise.  We’re now only 5 months away from our proposed departure date, and we don’t have a core backer.  Given that we need to be buying the equipment and sending it off to South Africa in a couple of weeks, it’s reached the point where we have to acknowledge that it’s too late even if we found a backer tomorrow.  Added to that is the kiting factor: as a team we are firmly of the opinion that there is no reason to go to Antarctica if we are not 100% confident that we can complete the crossing and set a new world record.  Not having the kites we needed in Greenland as Tim mentioned in his previous blog, meant that we were simply unable to make use of the conditions to make a crossing, and that meant we weren’t able to hone our skills as much as we would ideally like.  For any normal kiting expedition this wouldn’t be disastrous.  But this is not a normal expedition, and the risks we are exposing ourselves to if we aren’t bloody good by the time we get to Antarctica are more than it’s worth putting our loved ones through.

So!  What’s ahead?  Well, the next plan clearly!  We’ve learnt a hell of a lot of lessons from this attempt; whether the lack of a backer was down to our inexperience or the past year’s financial climate is a tough one to call, but there’s no doubt that we’re a lot clearer on what needs to be done next time around.  The expedition logistics plan and administrative details are well and truly hammered out and ready to go; we know exactly what kit we require, and we have all the contacts we could possibly need (thank you very much indeed to everyone who has helped us, you are too numerous to mention, but we will speak to you soon).  So the only thing there is to work on for PolarIce take 2, is publicity and a backer.  Clearly that isn’t as easy as I’ve made it sound, but we know what we need to do, and that’s a good place to start.

Clearly we’d all rather it had worked out this year, and we were on track to have the record by March 2011; but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, and we have no intention of letting Antarctica kill us! We’ll get a plan together over the coming months, and rest assured if you keep reading our updates and checking the site, you’ll be the first to hear about it.  Actually, when we do have a plan, you’ll know about it even if you don’t check back; we intend to let the whole world know!

See you soon!

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Meanwhile…. back at base!

08/04/2010

I received an email this morning from Mike’s girlfriend Ruth, but she’d sent it from Mike’s account…. When I read the first sentence “Hi Kevin, Quick update now I’m back in Yorkshire….”  I have to confess that my heart missed a beat!!  My word, I thought, that was short and sweet…..!

I’m happy to report, however, that the guys are well and truly underway and the remote parts of Greenland await their patronage!

Using an Iridium 9555 satellite phone PolarIce is able to send back status reports and updates on progress.  Part of this is to do with a desire to tell all those that are interested, via this blog and elsewhere, how PolarIce is getting on and where they are, but it’s also fundamentally important from a safety aspect.  The satellite phone is their only form of communication and should there be an issue it’s vital that we check the systems and ensure that a safe evacuation can be arranged if required.  The text messages that we receive contain vital information:

1. Condition of the team

2. Current position

3. Progress & issues

4. Expected course and mileage for the following 24 hours

5. Weather report and forecast

The first sitrep came in on schedule yesterday evening at 21.39 BST and confirmed that the team are all fit and well.  They were at position 65deg 52′ 23.4″ N; 038deg 49’56.7″ W (which I’ve just plotted on Google Earth!).  Today they plan to bear 284 degrees (just north of west) and although they didn’t give too much weather information, they did state that the distance to be covered will depend on the wind!!

Although PolarIce is on  a training expedition to Greenland, they still expect to be on the ice for a month and this is all part of the major preparations that are well underway to ensure that the team has the best possible opportunity of completing the longest ever unsupported Antarctic crossing, due to get underway in December this year.

The search for a major backer is still a priority for PolarIce but the training that has been given to the team by Ronny Finsaas in Norway recently, this expedition to Greenland and the determination, fortitude and experience that this team has will surely guarantee that their aims will be fulfilled.  The research work that they will conduct, the vital repairs to equipment remotely located in Antarctica that communicates increasingly important data, and the ability to demonstrate the ability of the human body and mind to conquer all before it, are all worthwhile outcomes from the challenge on the longest unsupported crossing of Antarctica.

Should PolarIce also return with a Guinness World Record as well it would be a fitting legacy.