This month we were informed about a lady called 'Arabella Slinger' by one of our readers, who is currently in Antarctica trekking 600 miles over 40 days. Her journey will take her from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, raising money for Marie Curie. She will be pulling a sled weighing 60kgs in temperatures that will average around -30C.
Update 05th December from her support team
The team flew from Union Glacier base camp yesterday having been waiting for a break in the weather to the Ross ice shelf. Her daily routine will consist of rising between 6am and 7am, breaking camp at 8:30am and stopping between 6pm and 7.30pm. It then takes 3-4 hours to put up the tent, prep food and water and do the general admin.
Update 14th December from her support team
I wanted to send you all an update as on 14 December, the 110th anniversary of Amundsen reaching the South Pole, Arabella emerged from the climb of the Axel Heiberg Glacier onto the Polar Plateau.
It was an arduous climb. First, they scaled the “Kneika” (Norwegian for the “crux” and something nasty to overcome she tells me). They had to do this twice as they split their load for the haul.
Their guide says it is the hardest ascent he has ever done – the 20cm of snow (knee deep for those not on skis) making the haul of even half the load extremely challenging. Not to mention the weather - low visibility and limited contrast - which meant that they once had to camp, a la Grand Duke of York, halfway up the hill when they could no longer see the crevasses on one side and the steep drop on the other. After the Kneika, they passed into the Valley of Silence (another ominous name – am thinking the polar names could do with a bit of PR polish…) which Arabella said was stunning with a blissfully hard surface. They went back to single load hauling which felt the same on that surface as hauling a half load up the Kneika.
The Polar Plateau is a very different kettle of fish - winds of 20 mph and temperatures of -30. They are currently camped waiting for the weather to improve. She is in a single person tent and doing all the safety checks on her own. The tent and her sled will have to be dug out when it is time to move off again. She now has 270 nautical miles to go to reach the Pole and about 12 a day is the average I understand.
Arabella is in good spirits and on great form. Rightly proud at having achieved the climb and a little anxious about what lies ahead, not least as their cache is 5 days walk away and they are running a little low having had to camp for longer than anticipated. There is also the small matter of venturing out for loo breaks. They are keeping going with Dad jokes.
Update 24th December from her support team
Since arriving on the Polar Plateau the intrepid team has unfortunately been struck by more bad weather and also injury. One of the team succumbed to frost bite on two of his fingers which meant that he could not go on without the risk of losing them. The team had to stop, quickly setup camp and organise a medivac for the injured party. He was successfully air lifted out on the 18th December.
In addition, there has been extremely bad weather with white outs, meaning the that the team were unable to make the progress expected and could did not reach the cache on time. Luckily, the airlift plane was also able to resupply the remaining team.
They need 23 days straight skiing to get to the Pole (3 to get to the cache) and they must achieve that by 20 January (when the back up support station closes at Union Glacier). Their route through 86 degrees is not direct as they have to zigzag to avoid the Devil’s ballroom – a field of crevasses.
Arabella is in good spirits and is rightly proud of being the first non-Norwegian woman to have skied the Axel Heiberg.
Update 27th December from her support team
The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted that Arabella has moved 3 degrees overnight and I am afraid that the reasons for this are bittersweet.
They woke up on 25th December – to calm weather and no wind. Total silence and real peace on earth as Arabella mentioned in her post on the map. Unfortunately, they were unable to set off skiing straight away as there were strict orders from Union Glacier to rest. From there, as I mentioned in my last update, it would have taken 23-25 clear days to the Pole.
With the Pole “closing” on 20 January, the journey was feasible but incredibly tight. This season has seen unusually bad weather, for this reason, the decision was taken by Union Glacier that the team was in real danger of timing out and that, taking account of logistics, safety and team wellbeing, the best thing would be to fly them to the last degree so that they can ski to the Pole from there.
On 26th December they were collected and then dropped at 89 degrees at 1am. This means they have jumped 3 degrees – 180 nautical miles – which would have been 15-17 full days of skiing, but this means that they will still make the Pole.
Update 01st January from her support team
She has made it! The South Pole has been reached. The team whilst sad they couldn't complete the original expedition are elated to have arrived safely and on New Year's day. Congratulations to everyone within the team and with what they have acheived.
Her Fund Raising
You can sponsor her through this link and please do forward it to anyone who might be interested; raising money for 'Cure Parkinsons.I hope we can catch up with her next year for an interview which we will share with you about her expedition.