By Deborah Diaz
The spirits of the South Pole ice trekkers lifted yesterday when their sick team-mate took a turn for the better, though the adventurers remain trapped in a blizzard.
A message from the tent-bound trio came through about 7 pm, saying Jon Muir seemed to be over the worst of the vomiting and diarrhoea that have slowed progress towards the pole.
They have lost a second day because of atrocious weather, spending another night 3000m up the Antarctic plateau in temperatures of minus 40 degrees while food and fuel supplies diminish.
The possibility of airlifting food was raised for the first time yesterday, but a spokeswoman for the Iridium Ice Trek, Barbara Crocker, said the team did not yet think such a move was necessary. They still had enough food and fuel to cover the 350km to the pole, although the situation was being reviewed daily.
"They are very sensible blokes. They have a lot of experience and won't allow themselves to be in a no-win situation."
The team - Muir, Peter Hillary and Eric Phillips - remained focused on making it to the Pole on their own.
Phillips, who has a frostbitten thumb, said the team were feeling very positive despite talk of abandoning the expedition.
"We are seasoned adventurers and are not going to let small set-backs impede our overall progress," he said in a phone call from the tent. "The only thing on our minds is reaching the South Pole and completing the ice trek unassisted."
Christchurch doctor Lindsay Strang, the team's long-distance medical consultant, said inadequate gloves had probably led to the frostbite.
By Deborah Diaz