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Keith and Brian woke up this morning ready to hit the trail again. They had breakfast at 8AM, said goodbye to the rest of the South Pole Ski team, and boarded a plane bound for Vinson Base Camp. Upon arrival, they met with several climbers that had been on the mountain for the last two weeks enduring some adverse conditions, but our team of two quickly organized and continued for 4 hours up to Low Camp.
Today the team flew back to the Union Glacier Basecamp after a fun night at the South Pole. Flying back is a relaxing, reflective time. With the White Continent stretching out below the frosted windows of the plane, and the hum of the propellers creating soothing background noise, the polar plateau fades away into almost a dream-like memory. But the hardships of the journey, the moments of excitement, the laughs and necessary motivation to put one foot in front of the next, all day every day, will stay with each member of the team forever.
Today the team finished the final stretch and reached the South Pole! The guys woke up this morning with only 5 nautical miles between them and the pole. At this point the expedition schedule is second nature and they packed up and were on trail efficiently. Approaching the South Pole iis different than any of their previous days because there is actually something to see on the horizon. The buildings of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station grew closer and closer over the few relaxed hours of skiing.
The light in Antarctica can be amazing. In addition to the brilliant sun that beams down on clear days, one can often see halos (rainbow like rings around the sun), double halos, sun dogs and all sorts of mind bending optics. Today the light looked apocalyptic, with the wind creating a ground blizzard, contrasted by the sun occasionally breaking through the maelstrom.
The weather made today significantly more challenging for our team with -25C (-13F) temperatures and sustained 10 knot winds gusting to 15 knots throughout the day. In these conditions, the wind chill factor is around -33 degrees Celcius!...