2013-2014 South Pole Traverse – Day 21

Day: 21
Location: Amundsen Scott South Pole Station
Weather:  Sunny, -33F
We made it! In fact, it was a new traverse record- from McMurdo to the Pole in 19 days. And yes, SPoT2 tried to catch us in a lackluster attempt but we completely demolished them. No hard feelings- sometimes you have to remind the hen who the rooster is.

 

We are currently offloading about 96,000 gallons of fuel. The fuelies here are doing an amazing job and will have the bladders empty in about 4 days, which I believe is a record in itself. Other than that, we are taking showers, doing laundry, and eating well. We are also waiting parts for the tractors which will be flown in on LC-130.

 

We were told a day before we arrived that we will be making 30% less pay while on station. I suppose they didn’t tell us this information earlier because they didn’t want us lollygagging around out there on the plateau. And now that we are making less money on station- that alone should be incentive to get us back on the trail. Right? Hmmm. Well, I took it upon myself to inform SPoT2 of this nonsense and I have a feeling the trail conditions are deteriorating as I write this.

 

Hero Shot
Hero Shot

 

 

Hero Shot
Hero Shot

 

2013-2014 South Pole Traverse – Day 18

Day 18
Miles Advanced: 64.8
Total Miles: 1024.1
Miles to the South Pole: 17
Elevation: 9,332ft.
Weather: Sunny, -28F

 

Not all those who wander are lost.

J. R. R. Tolkien

 

I went to middle school in Safety Harbor, Florida. I hated school with a passion back then but I did have one class I liked- geography. OK that was a lie, I hated geography too. But I did like the geography book which was filled with some great photos of far-off exotic lands. I used to flip through the pages of that book dreaming of all the wonderful places that I hoped to visit one day. But there was one page I loathed. There on page 220 was the South Pole Station. Why didn’t I like that picture? Because I despised school and I knew I wasn’t going to college, and I’d never become a scientist, and therefore, I’d never get the opportunity to go to the pole and see that place for myself.

 

I’ve learned over the years that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

 

So tomorrow we arrive at the South Pole Station. For some of the crew it is a homecoming. For some, a personal achievement. And for others, it’s just a half-way point. After all, we do have to turn around and drive all the way back to McMurdo. For me, I suppose it is a combination of all those feelings. I’m elated to have successfully driven to the pole but I will be just as happy to be back on the trail again- headed north to see some other, far-off exotic land.

 

Plateau
Plateau

2013-2014 South Pole Traverse – Day 17

Day 17
Location: Polar Plateau
Miles Advanced: 46.7
Elevation: 9,112ft.
Weather: Ice Fog, -22F

 

We are now entering the area we call Sastrugi National Park. Sastrugi are mounds of snow that have been formed and sculpted by wind. They can be quite beautiful as they form into delicate fins and arches. Sometimes I’ll see one directly in my path that is so ornate, I’ll feel bad running over it.

 

Sastrugi are also a nuisance. They are hard as concrete and can be several feet high. Traveling over them is a jarring experience. We found it best to knock them down with the blades on the Case tractors. Blading a trail, following the GPS, and hauling a load at the same time takes a great deal of effort and concentration. It’s also a full body workout. Going up and down the sastrugi feels a lot like riding a disgruntled horse for 10 hours.

 

To top things off I forgot to latch one of the cupboards and all its contents came spilling out- breaking some mugs and bowls. I guess I’ll have to steal some at pole.

 

Sastrugi
Sastrugi

 

 

Sastrugi
Sastrugi

 

 

Blading a Trail
Blading a Trail