Our guide team of Annie and Eric are off to Iceland to prepare for our crossing of the Vatnajökull Icecap.
The team will be on the trail for nine days, giving regular updates along the way. Follow along for stories and pictures from the land of fire and ice!
Graeme Shankland is 56, married with two grown up children, lives in London and has worked in finance all his working life. He currently has his own private equity business, Caird Capital, investing in UK companies in a broad range of sectors. He has a passion for the Antarctic and is a keen supporter and admirer of Ernest Shackleton. Graeme was kind enough to share some insights from his experience as a first-time polar explorer, skiing the last degree to the South Pole with PolarExplorers.
This morning, a Twin Otter was finally able to fly into Vinson Base Camp to gather the team off the Branscomb Glacier. A short 40 min later they were back in Union Glacier, awaiting the Ilyushin 76 which touched down on the Blue Ice Runway around noon.
We just heard from the team that they had safely landed Punta Arenas where a hot showers and soft beds await. Tomorrow morning, with much regret, the team will dissolve as people catch flights back home.
Thank you to everyone who followed along and engaged with us on social media, and thanks to all of the staff, guides, and team members that have made this expedition such an incredible success!
The team is still in a holding pattern to make the flight to the South Pole, but they are not idle. Today the group was given a tour of the Novolazarevskaya Station. Their tour guide was an Astrophysicist, and he took them to every corner of the base.
The "Novo" Antarctic Research station is located at Schirmacher Oasis, Queen Maud Land, 75 km from the Antarctic coast, from which it is separated by Lazarev Ice Shelf. It was opened on January 18, 1961 by the 6th Soviet Antarctic Expedition. The maximum summer population is 70.
The team will be going back to the station tonight to oserve the launching of a weather baloon.
Yesterday the team had their Pre-Flight briefing where they reviewed the details of the expedition and received their boarding passes. During the briefing, they were also introduced to Richard, an official from the South African government who will be shadowing our group to observe polar commercial travel for future legislation.
After picking up their Polar outerwear, the team feels ready and excited to embark! Next stop, Antarctica!
Current Position N 89°49'41" E 135°27'10"
That puts our team at just over 10 nautical miles away from the North Pole!
Current position (N 89° 37' 16" E 123° 49' 32")
The Last Degree team made excellent progress again today as they navigated over and around an increasing number of pressure ridges and rubble zones, followed by a long flat pan of ice. Their tenacious pace, coupled with positive drift, (1.5 nautical miles overnight) has put them well ahead of schedule as they approach the 2/3 mark of the expedition.
After safely descending the mountain and having a heartwarming farewell, the team is finally on their way home. Listen below as Oliver recounts the day. You can feel the team's feelings of happiness, relief, and accomplishment.
Great work gentlemen! We wish you peace and prosperity until our next adventure together.
Hello, here is Oliver speaking to you again from the greatest Kilimanjaro expedition of all time. Today we had the last passage away from the, I don't know what the camp is called, to the base camp ***** at 5,000ft of altitude. We had and incredible welcome and goodbye ceremony from all our porters and by the whole team. We had a tipping a ceremony that meant that all of the porters, cooks, guides, received and envelope with a tip inside from our group to say thank you. We received our documents that we really made it, that we really summitted the Kilimanjaro, and we danced ******* We had a nice lunch in this basecamp so it was an absolutely fantastic end to the trip. Then we went by car to Arusha, we had a little shower in a very nice resort and now we are preparing to fly home ******** All in all it was fantastic and just great event with an incredibly good team spirit thanks to Rick. ***** I can't even describe it, it gave a very good feeling and to all of us it was one of our greatest adventures of our lives and ***** and we are happy that it's over. ***** we are very happy ******.
Today the team woke up to 1/2 inch of light snow at Lava Camp (elevation ~4600m). They hiked 90 minutes with warming temperatures through mist and light rain up to the Arrow Glacier Camp (elevation ~4900m). When we spoke with the team they had eaten an early dinner and were getting to bed early for an early morning start. Tomorrow the team will ascend about 1000m up the Western Breach and into the Crater where they will camp tomorrow night.
"Korbinian Kiesl, from Aaron Glacier camp reporting today on December 4th. We are on our way with the "Gorillas in the mist team." Yeah. We had quite a short walk today from the Lava Tower camp up to here the weather was not the best, never the less we are getting close and we had a good chance to see already the last task and we are quite positive to make it up the last 1000 meters. We will get up tomorrow morning quite early, so we had dinner a little bit earlier than usual. Greetings to all the families of the Gorillas in the mist team, and everybody's fine Nobody has so far any problems, and we are all on the on track especially Oliver he's on the Autobahn yeah. Our local team built Oliver a special Autobahn, and he will reveal that later alright. Everyone is good except team Gorillas in the mist was refused the "ropa" today, and they're not happy about it. Hopefully at the summit. Ciao for now."
The team moved up to Lava Camp today at an elevation of 4500 meters.