The teams woke up to a clear, cold day roughly 45 nautical miles away from the South Pole. However, as they started skiing, the clouds began to move in, reducing contrast to zero for most of the day. Imagine standing inside a gigantic ping pong ball, not having the horizon, or any of the features in front of you as a reference. Skiing in zero contrast conditions is incredibly taxing both physically and mentally, but both teams accomplished 9 nautical miles South despite the challenges. Keith's team reported that the temperature reached 0°F during their last push while the sun came out for long enough to roast the team. It's hard to imagine being too hot in Antarctica, but it does happen!
Listen to the linked audio update and leave some feedback for the team on our Facebook page!
Photo below from Keith's team featuring right to left (Keith Heger, Rob Burns, Rob Jeffery, Danny Lubert, and Michael Gibbons)
Both teams have successfully made it to the Last Degree where they will begin skiing. After a final morning of anticipation, our two teams loaded up one two separate Twin Otter planes and began the journey to their expedition start point. The flight is long enough that the planes need to make a stop to refuel, at which Annie's team reported to have met several of the Ice Maidens (an all female team skiing coast to coast across Antarctica). Our teams were dropped off around 7:15pm in beautiful conditions. -25°C temperatures with markedly less wind than at Union Glacier. Both teams chose to ski for a short distance (around half a nautical mile) to get their blood flowing and warm up before setting up camp. When they checked in, everyone was in excellent spirits, and settling in for their first night on the Last Degree. Listen below to their respective audio updates and stay tuned for more!
Photo by Eric Lillstrom (South Pole Last Degree 2017)
The seas have been large since leaving South Georgia and today was no exception.
The team completed their Crossing of South Georgia Island yesterday! Early yesterday afternoon the team was picked up by zodiac and rendezvoused with the rest of their shipmates at Fortuna bay where the Plancius was waiting for them.
The Shackleton Crossing team has had a long and grueling day covering roughly 14km across the Fortuna Glacier. However, the sun came out and gave them a welcome opportunity to use their sunscreen, which has been relatively untouched.
If there were one word to describe our team's experience today it would be.... WINDY!
This morning the crossing of South Georgia Island officially began. The team had a hearty breakfast aboard the Plancius before getting shuttled to shore by zodiac. A welcome party of fur seals, elephant seals, and penguins greeted them as they unloaded and began preparing to travel.
After 6 days of being on the water, the Plancius has finally turned toward the main goal of the expedition, South Georgia Island. As of our last contact with the team at 8pm November 7th (UTC-2), they were approximately 1/3 of the way to South Georgia Island from The Falklands. After leaving the protection of the Falkland Islands, the ship once again entered into big seas, but with their sea legs still strong, no one on board have had trouble with the rolling and bucking of the ship.
Below you'll find two of our recent Audio Updates. Parts of the calls are garbled, but still very interesting to hear.
Our Last Degree Ski team is very excited that they have arrived at the Barneo Ice Camp. Their flight departed from Longyearbyen four hours late, but that did not dampen anyone's spirits. This flight had one very special feature - a polar bear sighting! Everyone was very excited to see four polar bears from the air. The weather is warm with a breeze out of the southeast and the group is gathering for dinner. The plan is to head out to 89 degrees tomorrow morning.
The team is minutes away from leaving the continent they have called home for the last 50 days! However, there was no room for sorrow while packing for the plane ride back to Punta Arenas. Instead, giddy energy is flying around as well as a few snowballs. All four will be settled into their hotel by 8:30pm tonight (Punta Arenas time).
Congratulations again guys! What an incredible achievement. Keep following for commentary, interviews, and hi-res photos of the expedition.