The team phoned in their position tonight as S 89.48.18. That's just over 11 nautical miles to the South Pole.
The reality is that will likely ski closer to 13 miles to get there, a result of mandatory detours to avoid sensitive scientific areas. We think they can handle the extra mile or two.
The boys pulled out their best mileage of the trip today with just over 13 miles under shifty clouds that varied from total whiteout to decent visibility. They say that tonight is probably their coldest night. Not because of the temperatures, around -26, but because of the lack of sunlight.
In Antarctica the solar radiation is so immense that on a sunny day the tent can heat up just like a green house. But take away the sun and it gets much colder quickly. Keith mentioned that they brought the stove in from the vestibule and cooked inside tonight, and actually ate in their sleeping bags.
They are excited to reach the pole, but they aren't taking anything for granted. They are still going to bed early and keeping up the same routine to complete the expedition in style.
If visibility improves they should see the first signs of the station (a radar, an out building, maybe a truck driving between sites...) within 10 miles of the station. Anything they can see will disappear then reappear as they ski over gently rolling hills. At first whatever they see will look like a spec of dirt on the snow, and they may think their eyes are playing tricks on them, but the object will get bigger and bigger and suddenly they will be able to make out details.
We expect them to arrive at the South Pole tomorrow around 5-6 PM Chilean time (GMT-3). That will be almost a half day opposite of the official station time, which is New Zealand time.
No doubt they are thinking about a lot of things as they fall asleep, but perhaps mostly that this will be the last time they have to awake early and break camp quickly so they can make their required daily mileage.
We are so excited for them and we wish them the best weather and happy thoughts as they approach the Pole.
Enjoy Ian's audio update and check back again tomorrow for another update from the team!