After a very celebratory night with many cheers and toasts, everyone finally got some shut-eye though several people would have like more!
The station tour was bright and early at 9 AM Chilean time. The fact that it was the middle of the night New Zealand time meant that most of the station employees weren't at their posts. This gave our teams greater access to areas of the station that normally are limited to non visitors so as not to disturb people who are hard at work.
After the tour they headed back to the Pole for another photo session and then back to the mini basecamp. The cold weather was persisting with ambient temperatures of -28 C / -18 F and a windchill temperature of -32 C / -28 F. That's pretty cold! Taking pictures at that temperature isn't very easy. You take a couple shots then have to do windmills with your arms to rewarm your fingers and you have to be careful about your nose, cheeks and ears.
An Otter (as in Twin Engine Otter - airplane) had overnighted at the Pole and was ready to take back part of the team, so around noon the South Pole / Vinson team (Audrey, Mike, Michael, Terry, George, Marshall, Joel, Peter, Garrett and Keith) departed for Union Glacier to start their preparations for Vinson. Their flight back took around 5.5 hours including a refueling stop at the Thiel Mountains. When they got back they had dinner and an opportunity to shower (yes shower!) before attending a lecture about the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904. Tomorrow they will spend time reorganizing their kit. They will leave several polar items behind and replace them with several mountaineering items. For two members of this team (Mike and Marshall) it is the end of their adventure. They will be departing Antarctica with the South Pole team on January 14. The rest of the South Pole / Vinson team hopes to fly to Vinson Basecamp tomorrow evening.
The South pole team spent the full day at the South Pole. Another team of 4 skiers arrived and they have enjoyed spending time with them playing cards, drinking beers, and swapping stories. Then another team pulled in, only these weren't skiers, this was a team that had driven to the South Pole in Toyota Hilux trucks outfitted for Antarctica by Arctic Trucks in Iceland. Our team is planning to head back to Union Glacier tomorrow before flying back to Punta Arenas on the 14th. They are all in high spirits and enjoying their time at the bottom of the world.
Check back soon for another update!
Michael Creasy at the Pole
The South Pole team at the Pole The US Geological Survey marker at precisely 90 degrees South
Inside the station. Any guesses on what department this is?