Three different expeditions have successfully reached the South Pole during the current season and others are on their way, reports La Prensa Austral from Punta Arenas.
The first was a Chilean team with members from the Valdivia Centre of Scientific Studies and from the Chilean Army which reached last November 30. The mechanized group is scheduled to arrive this week to Patriot Hills the departing point.
Last December 23 after skiing 1,150 kilometers during 53 days it was "Kites on Ice" moment of glory. The group is currently returning to Patriot Hills taking advantage of the favourable winds.
Working without external support the expedition was made up of a Canadian lady, Matty McNair and her two sons, Sarah and Eric, plus Hillary and Conrad Dickinson from the UK. Sarah McNair, 18, became the youngest woman to reach the South Pole.
A few days later "Ivesco Perpetual Challenge" expedition made it to the pole following Sir Ernest Shackleton's track. Members of the team are Paul Landry (father of Eric and Sarah), Patrick Woodhead, Alastair Vere Nicoll and David Rothschild, all from Britain, who skied during 37 days covering 500 kilometers, starting at the Axel Heiberg glacier.
Other expeditions include the Scott 100 team led by Hannah McKeand from Scotland that is scheduled to arrive before New Year.
Mark Rawsthorne from Adventure Network said in Punta Arenas that so far this season they have transported 200 people to Antarctica in ten flights, most of them interested in climbing the Vinson Mountain.
Two "polar" pilots are also expected next January: Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill who last year completed the feat of joining the North Pole with the South Pole flying a Bell 407 helicopter.
However on their return flight, December 20/2003 they had a mishap 220 kilometers north of Patriot Hills and apparently they are returning to complete the last leg of their expedition.
Photo: by Tom Sjogren ExplorersWeb