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Getting Close!

It warmed up today for our South Pole Last Degree ski team - but only by a few degrees! Even though it was warmer the wind was a constant companion, as it often is. Antarctic is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on Earth.

The team is narrowing in on the pole. They expect to get there tomorrow if all goes as planned. Today they learned that the kite they saw yesterday was one of two French kiters who skied from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. The skiers stayed for a couple days before turning around to kite-ski back. The winds, which typically flow from the Pole towards the coasts, will allow them to travel greater distances with the use of a kite, but it's a lot of work!

If the visibility improves tomorrow they can expect to see the station as far away as 7 or 8 miles (sometimes ever further). At first it feels like a trick on the eyes: a mirage-like blip that is vague, and seems to disappear if you look directly at it. Then, as you get closer, it begins to take shape. Large antennas and radar stations... then buildings... then smaller structures like trucks, then windows on the buildings. Maybe a person or two. It seems very surreal, sort of like the rebel station on the frozen planet of Hoth in the Star Wars series. Their approach to the station will be very deliberate, following a series of waypoints to avoid sensitive areas that are a part of scientific studies. 

When we talked to the team they were having crackers and salami and preparing for bed. They are looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow. Our fingers are crossed that they reach the Pole!

We are hoping for an audio update but it has not yet arrived. We'll post it if/when it arrives. 

Check back again tomorrow for another update from the team!

Below: If you could view our team from a distance as they ski to the Pole this is what they would look like:

Below: A typical tent kitchen scene cooking up an all-time favorite: Surf and turf!

If you are enjoying this blog check out our South Pole Last Degree Expedition page for more information about the expedition.

Coldest Day Yet

It was a cold, cold day for our Last Degree skiers. The coldest yet, with a 10 kt wind straight out of the south. That means it was a headwind for Jim, John, Steve, Jim and Keith. But they did a good job of closing the gap to the South Pole, and they were rewarded with two signs that they are getting close. The first was a column of exhaust that, for a few moments, floated up from the horizon due south of them. Was it a plane taking off from the station? A different kind of exhaust? They couldn't tell but it was definitely something artificial to the environment and they are guessing it's from the station. The second thing they saw was a moving kite, likely from a kite skier. It was very far away, but distinctly a kite. Who was it? They don't know. 

Days with a cold wind, like today's headwind, are especially difficult. The wind seems to constantly batter you and the cold always finds its way past your inner layers during breaks. Everything is harder including eating and drinking. Your muscles get tense early and stay that way. You have to consciously try to relax. Despite the challenging conditions they made good progress. They were even able to appreciate the beauty of the day as you'll hear in Jim Holliday's audio dispatch (below). Now that they are in their tents, enjoying hot drinks, quesadillas and dinner, they are slowly recovering and relishing the comfort provided by the thin nylon walls. On sunny days the tents can be remarkably warm, thanks to the large amounts of solar radiation in Antarctica. Like a greenhouse, the tent traps the heat and it can be quite comfortable. We wish them a great night's sleep under the 24 hour austral sun!

Jim Holliday hosts the audio dispatch today, in two parts. Have a listen!

January 10 South Pole Audio Update (part 1) featuring: Jim Holliday

January 10 South Pole update (part 2) with some special shout outs from Jim

If you'd like to send messages of support or ask questions to the team feel free to email Annie at annie@polarexplorers.com.

Make sure to check back again tomorrow for another update from the Antarctic plateau!

Brrrr... this morning's thermometer reading!

If you are enjoying this blog check out our South Pole Last Degree Expedition page for more information about the expedition.

 

The Team Is On A Roll

Our guys on the Last Degree are really finding their stride. Today they achieved another 8 nautical miles at a faster pace than yesterday AND with more challenging weather conditions! The team now has only 24nm standing between them and the Geographic South Pole. The weather this morning was clear and calm, but a weather system caught up with them in the afternoon bringing blowing snow and zero contrast conditions. The good news is that the weather system looks to have passed and there is more clear sky behind it. They rewarded their efforts with a dinner of hamburgers and laid down for an early sleep. Jim Lumberg describes the day very eloquently in the latest AUDIO UPDATE below. Have a listen!

January 9th South Pole Audio Update : Featuring Jim Lumberg

For those of you unfamiliar with "zero contrast" conditions, here is an example from a previous expedition. As you can see, you can't see anything but the person in front of you. These conditions are particularly difficult due to the eye strain and occasionally vertigo that come with zero contrast visibility. 

If you enjoy these blogs please check out our Mount Vinson expedition and South Pole Last Degree Ski Expedition.

Almost Half Way To The Pole

The team had another momentous day travelling across the Antarctic Plateau. They covered 8 nautical miles in 9 hours of travel, taking short breaks every hour or so. The weather has remained beautiful and crisp with a light wind and temperatures cooling off in the afternoon to around -20. One of the ways they pass the time during the long hours of skiing is by trading riddles. John Gluckman shares the riddle of the day in today's AUDIO UPDATE. Have a listen below! The guys are all in good spirits and excited to be crossing the halfway mark tomorrow. Stay tuned for more!

January 8th South Pole Audio Update: Featuring Keith Heger and John Gluckman READ MORE...

Skiing Through a Wall of Weather

Today was the third day on trail for our Last Degree Ski team and they already have their camp systems dialled-in. They were on skis at 8:45AM; two hours after waking up. It was a beautiful bluebird day for the first several hours, but afternoon brought with it a wall of clouds approaching quickly from the horizon. Before long they were skiing in zero visibility (Jim Lumberg describes the experience in the AUDIO UPDATE). Luckily the clouds didn't last any they skied out the other side, back into sunshine... READ MORE

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