Our Vinson team has been doing well, having spent two nights at Low camp. They are eating like kings, feasting on fish, pork, hamburgers, and fries. Everything they need to keep the energy high before making the next step up the mountain. Yesterday, they had a skills session, practicing ascending a fixed line and traveling on a rope team. The weather has been good, giving clear views of the mountain valley all around; a stark difference from the flat snowscape of the Antarctic plateau they finished skiing across just a few short days ago. Listen to the audio update from Annie below. It becomes garbled by bad signal half-way through, but you can still get a sense of the energy of the team.
Photo of the fixed line review session.
After leaving the South Pole, teams made their way back to Union Glacier. Their ride was the Basler BT-67, a retrofitted and updated model DC-3 (an aircraft that revolutionized air travel in the 1930s-40s), which is one of the major workhorses of inter-Antarctic travel. Once back at UG, which felt like a sunny beach compared to the South Pole, they began to separate out all of the group equipment and the Vinson climbers made the transition over to climbing gear and repacked. In the Evening, they had an award ceremony in the large mess tent, recognizing our "bi-polar" team members (Tamas, Mike, Mei, Maria, Danny, and Rob B), and also Mike Gibbon's completion of the Explorer's Grand Slam.
Yesterday, the Vinson team flew to basecamp and then proceeded to hike 5+ hours to low camp where they spent the night. For those team members that did not continue on to Vinson, they spent one more night at Union Glacier and are planning to fly back to Punta Arenas today, which will conclude this incredible expedition. Listen to Danny Lubert's last audio update for the South Pole Ski team below, and Keith's first Vinson Climb audio update.
Yesterday afternoon at 4:30PM (GMT-3) Our teams finally reached the South Pole! They were given a warm welcome by the ALE South Pole camp manager Hannah McKeand, and thankfully were able to have a tour of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. After the two hour tour, the teams spent an hour at the South Pole, taking pictures and celebrating. When we spoke with them, they had returned to their camp where there was a hot meal and champagne toasts waiting for them in the heated mess tent. An absolutely well-deserved celebration.
The teams are scheduled to fly back to Union Glacier Camp today. From there, Mei, Tamas, Jeff, and Maria will continue on to climb Vinson Massif, while the rest of the team will begin the journey home! Updates for the Vinson Massif climb will begin tomorrow.
A huge congratulations to all our team members and guides for completing this adventure in style, and thank you for making this Last Degree Ski another unforgettable experience for the record books!
Another cold day out on the ice for our two teams with temperatures hovering around -25°C in the sun. Clear skies with a stronger breeze made each push feel longer, but nearing the pole has everyone in high spirits. Both teams had a pre-Pole celebration in the tents tonight, indulging in some after dinner drinks, before setting in for their last night on the Last Degree. Listen to the audio updates below for all of the details from each team and visit PolarExplorers on Facebook to leave a question or comment for us to pass on to the team while they are relaxing in the comfort of the South Pole camp tomorrow evening!
Our Last Degree teams have had another successful day progressing toward the Pole. Temperatures dipped noticeably (-30°C this morning) as the cloud cover that had been keeping the temperatures up was swept away revealing an unmarked, vast blue sky. With colder temperatures comes shorter breaks during the day. While skiing, it's easy to stay warm, but once stopped, that body heat quickly dissipates. In addition, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your fingers warm and your goggles clear of frost. However, with 5 days behind them, the team handled these challenges with ease, accomplishing another full day of mileage (9-10 nautical miles) placing them only 18 nautical miles away from the pole.
Listen to the audio updates below for all of the energetic details from the team and visit PolarExplorers on Facebook to leave a question or comment for us to pass on to the team tomorrow!
Another consistent day of skiing put out teams past the halfway mark of their expedition today! Spirits are high and everyone is well into the swing of expedition life and used to the Antarctic temperatures. The morning started off cold, but warmed up throughout the day. Conditions were overcast but there was still plenty of contrast. Perfect conditions to tick off a few more miles. Check out the audio updates below from Rob Jeffery and Tamas Seregi, and comment on our Facebook with messages to send to the team!
AUDIO UPDATE FROM KEITH'S TEAM: FEATURING ROB JEFFERY (Warning: Use of sarcastic language) :)
The teams woke up to a clear, cold day roughly 45 nautical miles away from the South Pole. However, as they started skiing, the clouds began to move in, reducing contrast to zero for most of the day. Imagine standing inside a gigantic ping pong ball, not having the horizon, or any of the features in front of you as a reference. Skiing in zero contrast conditions is incredibly taxing both physically and mentally, but both teams accomplished 9 nautical miles South despite the challenges. Keith's team reported that the temperature reached 0°F during their last push while the sun came out for long enough to roast the team. It's hard to imagine being too hot in Antarctica, but it does happen!
Listen to the linked audio update and leave some feedback for the team on our Facebook page!
Photo below from Keith's team featuring right to left (Keith Heger, Rob Burns, Rob Jeffery, Danny Lubert, and Michael Gibbons)
It was a beautiful bluebird day on the Antarctic plateau today with mild winds. The type of day that we dream about, and both of our teams took full advantage, skiing 8.2 and 9 nautical miles respectively. A long day on the trail plus a big dinner is the perfect recipe for a god nights sleep, and that's what our teams are looking forward to tonight. Listen below to audio updates from both teams! PolarExplorers Facebook
Our teams woke up to a sunny and relatively calm day with temperatures hovering around -25°C with a light wind and mostly clear sky. As the day progressed clouds moved in, reducing contrast and visibility while the wind picked up to 20 knots (37kph). The first day of any expedition is spent dialing in equipment, figuring out your layering system, and getting accustomed to the cold. Today was no exception. Both teams set a slow and easy pace to allow ample time for everyone to continue adjusting to the altitude. This evening, Annie's team even had burgers and fries for dinner!
All parties are looking forward to a good rest tonight and another productive day tomorrow. Have a listen to the audio updates from each team below to get the rest of the details! Also follow us on Facebook where the expedition updates will be posted each day and leave a note in the comments for us to pass on to the team!
Both teams have successfully made it to the Last Degree where they will begin skiing. After a final morning of anticipation, our two teams loaded up one two separate Twin Otter planes and began the journey to their expedition start point. The flight is long enough that the planes need to make a stop to refuel, at which Annie's team reported to have met several of the Ice Maidens (an all female team skiing coast to coast across Antarctica). Our teams were dropped off around 7:15pm in beautiful conditions. -25°C temperatures with markedly less wind than at Union Glacier. Both teams chose to ski for a short distance (around half a nautical mile) to get their blood flowing and warm up before setting up camp. When they checked in, everyone was in excellent spirits, and settling in for their first night on the Last Degree. Listen below to their respective audio updates and stay tuned for more!
Photo by Eric Lillstrom (South Pole Last Degree 2017)
Our Last Degree Ski team is doing well and enjoying their time at Union Glacier. They spent the day preparing to leave for the 89th Degree of Latitude which will happen tomorrow at noon if conditions cooperate. Team member, and North Pole alum, Danny Lubert called in with the update this evening. Below is the transcript of his audio update.
Our Last Degree ski team is on Antarctica! The team took off late yesterday and flew through the night, landing at Union Glacier at 2:30am this morning (UTC-3). Upon arrival they had a short briefing, followed by a tour of the camp and a hot meal before setting up tents and getting a few more hours of sleep.
The team was up at 11:00AM for brunch, and plan to spend the day making all final preparations and practicing some polar travel skills so they are ready to fly to the 89°S tomorrow (If the weather allows). It is currently -5°C at Union Glacier Camp with a light breeze, the perfect transition temperature before heading to the Antarctic plateau. Stay tuned for another update this evening!