On June 18th it was announced to the world that The Coldest Journey will concentrate on the science programme rather than continue the perilous polar crossing. The Ice Team have covered over 300 kilometers and climbed from sea level to almost 3,000 meters up to the polar plateau, since the five man team set out on 21st March this year. In addition to attempting the first crossing of Antarctica in winter, the expedition team are undertaking an important programme of scientific and medical studies which have never previously been undertaken due to the inhospitable conditions which they will encounter as winter progresses.
“None of us wants to contemplate the thought of not completing the challenge of crossing Antarctica in winter,” said leader, Brian Newham from Antarctica. “However, we have reached an unexpected crevasse field which, from satellite images and our own local survey using ground penetrating radar (GPR), we believe could extend up to 100 km to our South. The crevasses are certainly bigger and deeper than any we have previously encountered. They could easily swallow our vehicles and are deceptively hard to spot in the darkness and snow cover: dark and difficult conditions. In my judgement there is no real choice, I believe it would be reckless and irresponsible to press on and risk the obvious dangers while incurring excessive fuel consumption. The greatest success can now be achieved by completing the scientific studies with which we have been tasked.”
Under the circumstances, and against their instincts, it has been agreed by the expedition team and their supporters that they should desist from their attempt to cross Antarctica and concentrate upon their scientific work.
“We all feel very supportive of the unbelievably difficult decision that Brian and his colleagues have made,” said Sir Ranulph. “We have commitments not only to research organisations but also to schools across Britain. The communications from the team to schools will help children understand how different the Antarctic is to what they see around them and how observations of extremes help scientists to understand how the global system works. The time it has taken to both ascend to the plateau and negotiate horrendous crevasse terrain now renders it virtually impossible to complete a continental winter traverse. Moreover, if they continue South, they will have to commit their time exclusively to safe travel through continuing crevasse territory and this will have a very detrimental effect on their ability to collect data. The science will provide a lasting legacy. The first winter crossing, while very much our original aim, will not.”
Although many will be disappointed by this news, we think The Ice Team have made the right and safe decision, if anything in such inhospitable conditions can be called safe! We are eminently proud to have sponsored this expedition, The Ice team have already broke world records with the distance travelled during this first attempt to cross Antarctica during winter not to mention their ingeniously long winch (see earlier blog). We will continue to follow their progress, raising awareness for Seeing is Believing and developing ground-breaking scientific research. You can continue to support the Team by donating using the following link www.seeingisbelieving.org.uk.
Stay safe Ice Team!