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!
If you'd like to send messages of support or ask questions to the team feel free to email Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure to check back again tomorrow for another update from the Antarctic plateau!
Brrrr... this morning's thermometer reading!
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!
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.