Latitude: 90 degrees South
Longitude: 0 degrees East
Temperature: −38°C( −37°F)
Wind speed: 8 knots
Wind Chill: −53°C( −64°F)
Wind direction: Grid 029
Elevation: Not Given
Kilometers traveled: 0
Notes on daily life:
By Dan reports from Amundsen Scott South Pole Station:
Last night Tom and I had to ‘bag drag’ at 19:30. Bag drag is when you carry all of your check−in and hand−carry luggage over to the MCC (Movement Control Center) so that everything can be weighed. Safety is paramount on all Antarctic flights; so the weight of each cargo load is calculated to the nearest pound. During bag drag your check−in bags are taken from you ready to be loaded onto the plane. You must remember to keep your toothbrush in your hand−carry bag in case of a flight delay.
After bag drag it struck me that we would be spending the next three days at the South Pole doing no strenuous activity at all (in order to acclimatize to the altitude). I decided that an impromptu hike up Observation Hill was in order. The climb is a little treacherous with ice and scree covering much of the path, (scree is small loose rock on a slope) but it is definitely worth the effort because the view from the top is priceless. At the top I paid my respects to Captain Robert F. Scott’s team who perished on their journey back from reaching the South Pole in 1912. In 1913 the remaining members of Scott’s Hut Point crew erected a large wooden cross on the top of Observation Hill in honor of their fallen comrades. Inscribed into the cross, along with the names of Scott’s South Pole team, are the words of Tennyson: “To strive, To seek, To find, and not to yield” a fitting tribute to a brave group of explorers.
In the morning we checked in, boarded the plane (a ski−equipped Hercules LC−130), and were airborne by 08:30. The flight to Pole is very exciting for a number of reasons: not only are you about to become one of the very few who will set foot on the Earth’s geographic south pole but the flight path between McMurdo and South Pole takes you over the Transantarctic Mountains. The Transantarctic Mountains form a physical barrier between East and West Antarctica. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet, being thousands of meters thicker and higher than the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, butts up against the mountains and slowly cascades over and through them in the form of enormous glaciers and ice falls. The view from the plane is absolutely breathtaking. Between Tom and myself we took over 100 pictures!
Upon arrival at Pole the lessons learned in altitude class sprang to mind: take it easy for the first few days, do not do anything to exert yourself. As we left the plane the most noticeable thing was the bone−chilling cold, even with all our ECW gear this will take a while to get used to. Altitude is sometimes called ‘the great equalizer’, no matter how fit you are or how many times you have ascended to great heights it will still affect you. We were out of breath by the time it took us to walk the short distance between the plane and the galley of the new South Pole Station. After some food and a short orientation video we were free to explore our surroundings, although we did this at a snails pace to avoid getting out of breath.