UPDATE—Lynx Adventure: Antarctic Snowmobile Expedition
Link to the original “Lynx Adventure: Snowmobile Expedition to the South Pole” story is posted below.
Well, they never made it.
The odds were stacked against them from the beginning. Anyone who’s ever pounded their sled over 20km+ of rough trail at the end of the day will tell you that it can be hard on both the body and the snowmobile. Now imagine a group of people—who have little to no experience operating snowmobiles—attempting to travel 4,400 kilometers of open Antarctica with no trails, temperatures ranging from +30°C to -40°C, snowstorms, and high elevation mountains to cross along the way.
But it was the equipment—not the body—that failed, preventing the team from completing their primary objective. The team’s main toboggan, which hauled 30% of the expedition’s equipment, broke a ski after several day of pounding over wind hammered snow in -40°C temperatures. Surprisingly enough, it was not the Lynx snowmobiles themselves that manifested mechanical issues given the extreme hot and cold temperatures and abusive conditions under which they were being operated.
Problems from the start
The ill-fated mission was plagued with problems from the get-go, when before leaving for Antarctic, the team learned that some of their equipment wouldn’t fit onto the plane. They were forced to pare down their gear and reorganize everything, just hours before departing.
When the explorers finally landed at Novo Station in Antarctica, they learned of a second setback—that four of their toboggans that were required to haul all their necessary gear had not arrived. Also, the team would not get all of the gasoline that they had ordered.
To save the expedition, the crew managed to borrow a big toboggan from the Novo Base, and made the decision to double on sleds for the last few hundred kilometers to the South Pole in order to save on fuel.
The crew set out on Day 3 of the expedition on Christmas Eve. The weather was a scorching 30°C, which created slushy wet snow conditions and melt-water pools, making travel difficult. The decision was made to continue riding through the night when the temperature dropped. Travel was reported to be much easier and faster once everything had frozen at night.
On Day 4, equipment problems began to surface that limited the team to covering only 90km of their planned 150km distance traveled for the day. It was difficult to keep equipment and fuel properly secured to their overloaded sleds. Also, one of the toboggans was damaged and weight from it had to be moved to the other toboggans.
It was on Day 6 that the fatal malfunction occurred to the team’s primary toboggan. At that point the decision was made to abandon the primary goal to reach the South Pole. Instead, the team would head back to the mountainous ranger closer to Novo Station to attempt to achieve their secondary objective—to make a first ascent of a mountain there.
A New Year’s Eve storm rolls in
In an effort to make it back to the mountains before a brewing storm made impact, the crew traveled for 20 hours leading up to Day 9. They pitched their tents as the storm descended upon them, bringing winds, snow and temperatures as cold as -42°C for two days. By the time the storm blew itself out, snow had drifted up around the tents a meter deep and the snowmobiles had to be dug out of the snow.
Back to the Mountains
With the storm passed, the crew is heading back into the mountains to setup camp and attempt their second goal. Hopefully they will have more success than they had trying to reach the South Pole!
Follow along on the rest of Lynx Adventure Antarctica here.
See the original story here.