New Route via Reedy Glacier to South Pole

Jan 03

polar navigation 101

Publiziert am 06:50
Dispatch created from email
Up on the high plateau navigation becomes relatively straightforward if you apply some basic principles. So much so that I don't use a compass while the sun is shining. Based on our time zone and longitude at 11.30am the sun is in the north and our shadows point true south. Easy, ski on your shadow! But one can only do that for a short while because the sun and accompanying shadows shift 15 degrees of arc per hour. So when we start skiing at 0830 the sun is on our left and if I keep my direction of travel 45 degrees from my shadow I'll walk true south. So long as I know the time I know where my shadow should be and ski relative to it. At 1730 I ski with my shadow on my left at 90 degrees.

I also use the wind. Up here it's mostly light but so far only from the SE so a telltale thread attached to my ski pole must flutter at around 135 degrees to my direction of travel.

Lastly there are multiple sets of tiny ridges on the surface, legacies of various wind events. Once I lock into the set pertaining to my direction I can follow the southern striations, and pretty accurately.

So at any given time I can instantly choose any of the above to check my heading. And if none are available then my GPS tells me the magnetic bearing to the South Pole which I set on my compass. The magnetic South Pole is on the other side of the Antarctic continent so has a minimal effect on the compass.

We've been following longitude W127 and need to approach the south pole station on W132 so we'll slowly make our way across there in the next 6 days of skiing.


Pic of the 3 navigational aids - wind, shadow/sun and surface features.

  • Name: Camp 27
  • Höhe: 2895 m
  • Breitengrad: 88° 4913South
  • Längengrad: 128° 554West


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    2017-01-03 15:11:50 Keith Sauls IAE 80degrees Sout says: Congrats on approaching quickly the last degree. I was reading Job 38:32 this morning (a navigation prompt from 4,000 yrs ago for the other side of the earth slightly before GPS) "Can you organize the constellations or bring out the Bear with her cubs"
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    2017-01-03 10:17:43 says: Hi Eric & boys, another good message about your journey to the Pole. Keep it up, we follow you breathless and wish you success every day. greetings from your Dad and
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    2017-01-03 08:11:41 Geoff Murray says: So you have just under 71 nautical miles to go to the Pole?

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