EXPEDITIONS KITES ON ICE
Matty McNair, Sarah McNair, Eric McNair, Conrad Dickinson and Hilary Dickinson
You can follow their expedition on their website via daily satellite radio broadcasts, with each of the five members of the team reporting in turn. It's a great idea as the visitor is immersed in the atmosphere of a polar expedition although the number and quality of the reports broadcast leave you wanting a little more. To listen to the audio dispatches when you enter the website, click on the button at the top.
12 January 2005 : success for the all family !
On January 11th, after 70 days of adventure, Canadian/US veteran Matty McNair (53), her children Sarah (18) and Eric (20) and two friends of her, Conrad (49) and Hilary Dickinson (51) completed their
70-day, 1,380-mile (2,220 km) expedition that started on the Antarctic coast at Hercules Inlet on November 2, reached the South Geographic Pole on December 23 and finished back at the coast at Hercules Inlet yesterday.
Few days ago, team
kited for 12,4 hours, covering 192.73 km ! An great effort, even more so when considering the physical exhaustion the skiers faced after their initial unsupported trek to the pole. Matty is probably one of the best and most experienced female polar guide (she is married to Paul Landry, the guide of the Invesco Perpetual TransAntarctica Challenge) in the world : she has already led expeditions to both North (women) and South Pole (all male) and, achieving this recent return trek Hercules Inlet -> SP she has become now the first American woman to ski unsupported to the SP...
January 2005 : back to Hercules Inlet with the help of powerkjtes...
When the five members of the Kites on Ice expedition arrived at the South Pole on the 53rd day of their trek, they were absolutely exhausted and were suffering from serious discomfort in their ankles. Of course, they were all excited about fulfilling their dream and very happy that the group was still totally united. The youngsters had given their all and nothing serious had happened to disrupt the course of their long trip. Kites on Ice covered the distance at an average daily speed of 15 knots, putting in nine hours of intense effort every day (the going was especially hard towards the end because the snow was increasingly deep and the temperature was plummeting) to reach the Amundsen Scott base. When they arrived on 24th December, they were greeted by the sounds of the Christmas festivities. But their celebrations were short-lived as they had to set out quickly on the return journey. The expedition had in fact decided to return to Patriot Hills under its own steam, using the prevailing winds to pull them along with kites.
So it was on the 25th that the team set out again, covering 45 nautical miles on their first day under kite power. No news has been published at their website since 30th December, but we do know that they covered 37.8 nautical miles on 28th December. They have had to modify somewhat their familiar habits adopted on the outward journey, with their regular daily nine hours on the go and finely tuned timetable. This time, because they have to make the most of the slightest puff of breeze, they have to rest when there is no wind and keep going for as long and far as possible - even at night - when the wind god Aeolus is up and about blowing across the Antarctic icecap. Based on our estimations, Kites on Ice should take between 15 and 20 days to make it back to the South Pole.
10th December: food rationing soon?
Despite the fatigue and cramps beginning to
make themselves felt in the calves and ankles of some family members,
and despite the frequent days of poor visibility and slushy ground,
the McNairs and their friends (Conrad and Hilary Dickinson) continue
to make progress at a steady pace of around 15 nautical miles for
a ‘working' day of nine hours' effort. On 5th December, they passed
through latitude 86, meaning that they were more than halfway through
Morale is excellent and the children are keeping up remarkably well, according to their mum. Despite that, in their latest audio report, the team was for the first time talking about beginning to husband their supplies carefully because, as they are only travelling on skis, they estimate that the South Pole is still relatively far away (approximately 500 km). To give you an idea of the demands an adventure of this type places on your body, it is interesting to note that on 6th December, which was 35 days into the expedition, Conrad Dickinson told his listeners that he had already lost 25 pounds (just over 11 kilos) since they set out.
30th Novembre : Legs are starting to get weary
Everything is going well for this family expedition. Every day they send back basic information about their progress using the solar panel they took with them. They are "working" for approximately nine hours a day and covering an average daily distance of about 15 nautical miles. 1st December was their 30th day out on the ice and they have reached 84°56' S / 82°34' W. Without mishap, despite a day when there was a bad storm and, for the past two days, virtually white-out conditions.
Their dispatch on 1st December reported that Sarah and her two children were feeling very tired in their legs. Morale is excellent.
23 November: everything is going according to plan
We have received some excellent news via satellite telephone from the expedition which is sending daily reports to the press. Matty McNair's team, which left 22 days ago, is going well and is in good health, although for some days now the five travellers seem to have developed a food fixation. As the expedition has no external support, they obviously have to look after their daily food rations with great care. One of the radio broadcasts tells us that at the end of every meal Eric, Matty's son, is on the look out for any small crumbs of food which may have fallen on to the floor of the tent!
As for the weather, at the beginning of the expedition it was quite poor (strong winds and low temperatures) but it seems to have turned to fine, settled weather for some days now. They are finding the sleds heavy, but the ice is getting better as the days go on. They are advancing by a good ten miles or so each day. On the 21 November, the five travellers covered 13 miles, which is their record distance up to now.