Thursday, December 22, 2011

Summer solstice...

Today marks the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. That's the longest day of the year, the day that the sun reaches at its maximum southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. Of course the team is experiencing 24 hour sunlight, so this day is probably more significant to those of us in the northern hemisphere as it signals a return to the longer days of spring and summer.

Longer days is an interesting concept in polar travel. Some expeditions, in an effort to be more efficient, simply decide to make their days longer. For instance, instead of working off a 24 hour day they switch to a 30 hour day. They may sleep for 10 hours ski for 14 hours and spend 6 hours cooking, eating, making water and mending gear every day. Over the course of many "days" they reduce the number of times they make and break camp, etc. This strategy works only because of the 24 hour sunlight. It simply does not really matter what time your watch says, because it always looks the same!

Our team was happy to have a rest day yesterday, and there were likely a couple 10 hour sleepers in the group. Today they got back to their regular schedule making 24 kilometers. They are skiing towards the Thiel Mountains and they expect to be there in a couple days. As Dennis mentions in his audio update there are some treats in their next resupply that they wouldn't mind having for Christmas!

The howling wind from yesterday continued throughout the night and into this morning. Bob recorded winds 12-15 knots with gusts to 25 knots. The team had to dig themselves out of their camp this morning, as snow drifts had covered their gear and tents. After a few hours of skiing the sun broke through the clouds and they were treated to a very nice afternoon and evening. They are currently located at S 84.30.999, W 86.16.171.

Make sure to listen to the daily audio report from Dennis and check back again tomorrow for another update from the team!

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