The First Steps......
Miles skied - 49 Miles remaining to South Pole - 471
Elevation Gained from coast - 1,250 feet Elevation at South Pole - 9,500 feet
After over a year of planning, much training and tremendous grass roots support, we have taken the first steps to the pole. Hard to believe we are here. We were dropped off in the middle of the Ronne ice shelf at 5:30 p.m. local time on Monday, November 24th in calm weather, clear skies and zero wind. The feeling of isolation was breathtaking. There are no distinguishing features of any kind. The days now take on a predictable routine of breaking camp (2 hours), 8-9 hours of sled hauling and 2 more hours to set up camp, cook dinner and prepare the hot drinks and food for the day's sledding.
Seeing the Twin Otter aircraft take off and fly away, leaving us 520 nautical miles from the South Pole was an emotional feeling of utter isolation.
Thank you everyone who has emailed or written through the blog site. I simply will not be able to respond personally to those messages while I am in Antarctica, but please keep them coming. I will reply to everyone when I get back in January.
Observations of the week were:
Best laugh........Ian leaving his Swiss army knife in his carry-on luggage and insisting he knew where it was and it "Was NOT in his carry on".
Second best laugh......Bradley for not knowing there were a westerly and southerly coordinates to make up a point on a map, however, he can ski in an amazingly straight line - so he is sent out front! Way to go Brad.
When the ice you are standing on drops a few inches accompanied by a cannon-like sound, it is OK and is "normal" apparently. The ice is "settling".
Chance of a white Christmas............? Pretty good.
Best home-made piece of equipment? We have had some innovative nose protectors, but Ian's cardboard and duct tape sun visor takes the prize this week.
The odor in the tents has taken on a sports dressing room feel - 40 days to go.
To get everyone back home in the mood for what we are doing, if you really want to experience this here's what you could do. Go out and buy 2 plastic sleds and load them up with 60 LBS of bricks in each. Next find a ploughed field that is frozen and covered in snow and drag the sleds around for 9 hours. Oh yes, the field has to be all uphill and you had better turn the thermometer down a notch.
Next stop............the first food and fuel depot - 180nm from the start.
Don't forget to check out the Polar Explorers blog, including voice updates at: Polar Blog
Until next week,