We are very proud and excited to announce that both teams reached the Geographic South Pole today at 16:15 local time! Wooo hooo!
Both teams slept in for a lazy morning and broke camp around 11 AM. For the first few marches they could see each other and by the last push before the station boundaries they were together. From there they phoned in their position to the base camp manager, Hannah, who warmly greeted them and told them to "come right on in." As they approached the Pole the many miles of tugging a sled over the vast Antarctic plateau melted away and all that was before them was the red and white striped Pole that marks 90 degrees South. Well, almost 90 degrees South. Most people don't know that there are two "poles" at the South Pole. There is the Ceremonial South Pole with the red and white stripes and reflective globe, surrounded by flags. This is the Pole that is most often photographed. There is also the actual US Geological Survey marker that denotes exactly 90 degrees South. This "Pole" is around 10 meters from the Ceremonial Pole. Don't worry, they'll have plenty of time at each pole before they leave!
After many hugs, high fives, photos and phone calls home the teams, who had put in a long day by now, retreated to the temporary basecamp for visiting explorers. When we talked with them the camp manager, Hannah, who is an old friend to many of us, was preparing them a hearty dinner. This will be a celebratory dinner. Not only did they reach the South Pole, but they can relax and enjoy themselves without having to get up bright and early to ski tomorrow! We heard a rumor that Michael pulled out his very coveted Shackleton Whiskey, which everyone is drooling over. We also heard that Graeme had carried with him a very special medal that the monarch of Italy presented to Ernest Shackleton! So it is not a far stretch to say that The Boss himself is with them tonight.
They have planned a station tour at 9 AM Chile time tomorrow morning. That's the middle of the night NZ time. This is intentional timing to reduce the impact of our 15 person strong team on the people who live and work at the station. Then they'll return to the Pole for a photo session when they expect to have more favorable lighting. In the later afternoon if all goes as planned they will fly back to the Union Glacier Basecamp.
We have a wonderful audio dispatch from the dinner tent that captures the mood of the evening and we hope to post more photos of their day soon. So check back again!
It was a cold day up on the polar plateau. Colder than any other day so far (around -24 C / -13 F) and there was enough wind to make everyone feel the bite (around 6 kt). This made managing hands and faces harder than previous days but everyone did well and survived the day with all parts intact.
Today the teams report that they had nice conditions with colder temps (around -23 C) with a 3-5 kt wind coming from the NE. In case you are wondering what direction that is if you are skiing to the South Pole it is hitting them in their left butt cheek and the backside of their left shoulder.
Antarctica can be the harshest place on Earth but not today. Today it was amazingly beautiful. It was sunny, warm (-15 c), and utterly calm. Not a breath of wind. Most of the team were peeling off layers until they were only in base layers with no anorak. A good dose of sunscreen or the thinnest face covering protected their skin.
Today was a beautiful day. The weather remained clear with a few scattered clouds and the wind diminished, first to light and variable and then to almost calm. The temperature remained around -20 C /-5F Here are the updates from the two teams: