February 1, 2005

Route to Antarctica

Valdivia, Chile, day 804

contact us! phone: 00871 7625 68 933 or 0056 (for Chile) 09 65 99 807

Biking total: 142 days, 6247 km, 29'890 altimeters.
Climbing total: 262 days, 3411 km, 128'847 altimeters.
Sailing total: 400 days, 13'669 nm, 26 altimeters (Panama Channel)

We are very busy to prepare the "1st EXPEDITION TO MT. VINSON ANTARCTICA BY HUMAN & NATURE'S POWER".

Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECS), Valdivia:
Since this week we have also the support of the CECS. They are specialists in glaciology and have also good satellite pictures, which helps to determine the route. Already special thanks to Cesar Acuna, Iens, Felipe Contreras and the whole CES-team for their support this week!

TOPtoTOP-member in Dome C Antarctica:
The Radarsat images of TOPtoTOP-member Guillaume in Dome C helps a lot to determine the route: The data is precise enough (1m) that Guillaume can actually tell the difference between open water (0m), sea ice (1m) and ice shelf (5-15m) if he zooms on the sea. He prepared it by combining Radarsat reflection data (125m resolution) and DEM elevation data (200m horizontal resolution, 1m vertical).

We have two options:
1 - start from the Ross Sea and cross the Ronne Ice Shelf.
2 - Start from Bellinghaussen Sea and get immediately on the high plateau

Option 1 will be totally flat most of the way, but there might be a few giant crevasses to cross at the start (see top of image) and when going up the giant glacier near the transantarctic range.

Option 2 is shorter, but we will get quickly at high altitude immediately. We will encounter crevasses immediately, but then we expect it would just be flat and plain (there's a ridge of Domes, those usually have low wind and are totally flat). Getting near the Transantarctic Range is a bit of the mystery part. The passes are covered with large glaciers, so the peaks just stick out of the ice isolated. But there may be areas with lots of crevasses.

Pack ice is the uncertainty:
Pack ice changes greatly from year to year. Some years it's all up till January. This year it was all gone in late September in the Adelie Land area. It is more likely to find sea-ice near the Ronne Ice shelf than in the Bellingshausen Sea. That's another reason why we focus on option 2. Packice is hard to forecast, but we can check the NOAA feeds and see if it's already gone.
If 2005/06 is no good we always can come back the next year sailing into Antarctica from Christchurch, NZ to the Admundsen Sea coast and up to Vinson. That's why we need a NOAA feed on Pachamama in order to get weather maps and sea ice images. It can be invaluable if there's a pack of compact ice somewhere, sometimes spanning hundreds of kms, and we can see that it's possible to sail around it. - Also the Armada de Chile has good information available.

Possible camps are another reason for option 2:
From the shore we will have the following camps, which may allow us to do food depots: US Camp Minosota, US Eights Station, Mount Vinson Base Camp. AdventureNetwork International has a camp at Patriot Hills, between the Ellsworth Mountains and the Ronne Ice Shelf. We have to ask for the GPS positions of their various deposits.

Conclusion: Our plan at the moment:
Option 2: Leaving Valdivia End of September 2005 to do a blue whale campaign together with "Centro Ballena Azul". Sailing in the Patagonian channels to Ushaia till begin of December. Crossing to Antarctica; - landing at the coast of Bellinghausen Sea; - 500 km skiing over continental ice to SentinelRange, arriving Vinson base camp about begin of January; - climbing Vinson till mid of January; - back to the coast of Amundson Sea using sails to speed up, arriving about end of January; - sailing back to Ushaia and up the Patagonian Channels to Valdivia. Arriving in Valdivia at the end of March. Leaving Valdivia for the Southern Pacific to the next TOP in April 2006.

Next update about outfitting of Pachamama with renewable technologies...

Posted by dario at 3:20 AM