AUTOPSY OF ABANDON
Thanks to Anan translation of Slovenien website we have more details concerning the failure of slo skier Stane Klemenc. Here is what Anan has published Wednesday December 8th
The skier's web site, which is again reporting events only in Slovenien, is currently detailing a number of key reasons for the decision to retire according to translations obtained by ANAN yesterday. One was related to the heavy sledge Stane was attempting to pull up the slope towards the main plateau from where it was hoped the parasail system would have come into its own. According to the web site, the sledge and special parasail chair which he was pulling weighed an incredible 200 Kg, presumably because the continental crossing was to be unsupported and he had to carry over 100 days of supplies.
In comparison, the Norwegian duo of Rolf Bae and Eirik Sønneland who are also travelling south from DML to the South Geographic Pole (SGP), each set out pulling 165 Kg. Anne Bancroft and Liv Arnesen whose goal is a crossing of the continent, left 'Blue 1' at the same time as Klemenc with only 113 Kg sledges as commercial air operator Adventure Network International (ANI) is to deliver additional food and fuel for them to the Pole (ANAN-22/03, 24 May 2000). In another sector the Dutch Sasquatch pair Marc Cornelissen and Wilco van Rooijen, who aim to travel unsupported from the Patriot Hills to the SGP and return on a somewhat easier, but still difficult, route, each had problems pulling sledges of 165 Kg in the first week of their trek, and had to lighten the load in order to make acceptable progress.
It appears that the stresses involved in pulling the very heavy sledge, and the typically difficult travelling conditions that prevailed, resulted in Klemenc suffering leg injuries of some kind. These were enough to confine him to his tent for at least two days last week as he attempted to recover before once again moving southwards, however his problems apparently persisted. In addition to these injuries the web site says that some of Stane's food had 'spoiled' due to incorrect packaging prior to his departure for Antarctica, and that as a result he did not have enough suitable supplies to continue the crossing attempt. There were also persistent reports of poor to non-existent communications between the skier and the 'Blue 1' camp, some of which appear to have been caused by high levels of solar activity; something that has been a general problem in Antarctica over recent months. Stane's satellite-based navigation equipment was also said to have been 'unreliable', and he became increasingly concerned about his ability to find the SGP, or to provide his position accurately enough later in the trip when further inland such that any aircraft that may have been sent to assist could locate him on the vast, often featureless, ice sheet. Personnel operating the Polar Logistics field camp at 'Blue 1' apparently became concerned when no reports were received from Klemenc for several days late last month.
While communications problems had been experienced early on in his trek, the Slovenian language web site claims that there was considerable uncertainty about his situation; although whether this statement was merely an attempt to add 'drama' for the benefit of the general public visiting the site cannot be ascertained at this time. Position reports from his ARGOS satellite beacon apparently indicated that he had not moved for several days last week and this was apparently the time when he was resting because of leg-related problems. As a result of the uncertainty ANI, which was providing search and rescue cover for the skier, dispatched a Twin Otter from 'Blue 1' on the morning of 1 December, and it reached the vicinity of Klemenc's position twenty-five minutes later. The aircraft was unable to land closer than eight kilometres from the trekker due to fog and whiteout conditions in the area, and that flight had to be aborted. A second sortie made on the afternoon of the 3rd was successful and the skier was returned to 'Blue 1'. Few details of Klemenc's condition on arrival at 'Blue 1' are available as the web site is sketchy on details. The inference appears to be however that he is in a satisfactory condition.