With only a few days until our South Pole Last Degree and South Pole/ Vinson Combo teams arrive in Punta Arenas there is much excitement in the air. Bags are packed, the guides have started their commute to Punta Arenas, and soon the expedition will begin! We are very excited to meet everyone in Punta Arenas and get this show on the road!
We hope that you will check back in on January 1 for the kick off of this expedition blog! See you again soon!
The team has had another unbelievably beautiful day at The Oasis. The whole group went out for another, more extensive hike around the ice shelf that now has a waterfall coming right out from under it. Meltwater above the shelf has formed into a small river and made it's way down through the ice to form the waterfall.
After the hike, the team had their last of several celebratory dinners with Russian dumplings and champagne toasts.
The team is gathering at 10:30pm to make the transfer to the runway for a midnight flight back to Capetown, where the adventure will be complete.
Today our team reports that they are back at the Oasis enjoying the warm temperatures and comforts of home. In the day and a half since they have left the Oasis it has changed dramatically. Unseasonably warm temperatures are melting the snow and ice quickly. Several of the places where the group hiked only days ago are now rivers. And on the drive from the runway to their basecamp the trucks got stuck several times in soupy slush.
Today the group had a late breakfast at the refueling station at 83° South followed by their 5.5 hour flight back to the Oasis. They made it back in time for a celebratory dinner of lamb, herring and South African wine which tasted especially good after a couple days of dehydrated meals. The celebration was in honor of reaching the South Pole but also a belated party for Aurelia's birthday. A good time was had by all.
After the party it was time to hit the Banya for some good Suana-ing.
Tomorrow the group plans to take a hike to the edge of the ice shelf before preparing for their departure around midnight.
Enjoy the photos and check back again soon for another update!
Arriving back from the Pole.
We are thrilled to report that at approximately 9:30 UTC our team reached the South Pole. It was partly cloudy, and around -31 C with an 8 kt breeze out of the North (where else!). The day was a South Pole trifecta of sorts; a) they reached the South Pole, with Gwendal becoming the youngest person to reach the Pole - as far as we know, b) It was Aurelia's birthday, and c) it was the 105th anniversary of the discovery of the South Pole by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundesn - assuming you go by the official station time which is New Zealand time, and thus December 14th.
The day started with anticipation about whether or not the flight would happen. The last two days it was delayed due to weather. But with the all clear to depart the team flew 5.5 hours to a refueling station at 83 degrees South, and then an additional 2.5 hours to the South Pole. There they received a tour of the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station and celebrated with photos and toasts of Aurora Australis at the Ceremonial South Pole (which is about 10 meters from the Geographic South Pole at precisely 90 degrees South).
After approximately 2 hours the weather started to close in and the pilots, eager to beat the incoming system, called everyone back to the plane. They took off and made their way back to the refueling station where they are spending the night. When we heard from them it was just after 3 AM UTC - and they were ready to hit the sack after a long but very satisfying day.
Tomorrow they will have a late breakfast before making the flight back to the Oasis, their home away from home.
We expect to have some pictures to post tomorrow so check back again soon!
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.