Contents
  Title Page
  Preparations Arizona USA
  Preparations Punta Arenas, Chile
  Day 1: Antarctica!
  Day 2: First Taste of the Wind
  Day 3: Close Call
  Day 4: A Beautiful Day
  Day 5: The Wedge Design
  Day 6: Circle of Survivability
  Day 7: Mountains to our West
  Day 8: Skiing in a White out
  Day 9: Jenny Unleashed
  Day 10: Face Mask Freezing to the Nose
  Day 11: Howling Winds and Rough Terrain
  Day 12: Sledging away from the Maritime Influence
  Day 13: Rocking out
  Day 14: Frozen Face Mask
  Day 15: Coldest and Windiest Place on Earth
  Day 16: Skiing on Frozen Rubble
  Day 17: Tracks!
  Day 18: Slogging into Fierce Headwinds
  Day 19: First Sponge Bath
  Day 20: Playing in the Junkyard
  Day 21: Three Weeks, One-Third of the Distance
  Day 22: Playing in the Junkyard, Part 2
  Day 23: The otherworldly Glowing Blue Light
  Day 24: A Packman Game
  Day 25: The vision must be kept
  Day 26: Frozen Cameras
  Day 27: Low Margins of Safety in Strong Winds
  Day 28: Anomalies in the flat Antarctica myth
  Day 29: Thiels Mountains Visible in the Distance
  Day 30: The Half-Way Point
  Day 31: Mid-Journey Resupply
  Day 32: Sastrugi on top of Sastrugi
  Day 33: Skiing Alongside the Thiels
  Day 34: White Out and Mild-Mannered Sastrugi
  Day 35: Difficult Terrain
  Day 36: Cameras Frozen All Day
  Day 37: Alone in an Immense Wilderness
  Day 38: Warm weather and sleds are dragging hard
  Day 39: Climbing to the Polar Plateau
  Day 40: The Disappearing Hill
  Day 41: Extreme Fun
  Day 42: Seven Down, Three to Go
  Day 43: If your ski tips have no shadow, stop quick!
  Day 44: A Strange Object Flies Overhead
  Day 45: Perils of Crossing a Body-Heat Rubicon
  Day 46: Inspired to Greater Heights
  Day 47: Antarctica's Double Sun
  Day 48: Eight Degrees Down, Two To Go
  Day 49: Skiing in the Tropic of Antarctica
  Day 50: The Sun and its Antics
  Day 51: Short Antarctic Summers Wait for No One
  Day 52: Showers and laundry perhaps? No chance
  Day 53: Gaining the Polar Plateau
  Day 54: Good Weather, Fairly Flat Terrain
  Day 55: Climbing the Same Hill for Three Days
  Day 56: Cold but Very Pretty
  Day 57: Gorgeous Weather, Enjoyable Day
  Day 58: Almost There
  Day 59: The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
  The Flight to Patriot Hills
  Patriot Hills
  Mount Vinson
  Patriot Hills
  Aconcagua

Skiing to South Pole

Fierce Winds, Ultra-Cold Temperatures

Adventures in Antarctica

58 days, 700 mi, Nov 2006 - Jan 2007

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2007-01-02 page 56 of 67

Day 53: Gaining the Polar Plateau

We crossed 89 degrees late afternoon. That makes nine down, and only one left to go. So we are eating our celebratory cake tonight - and nursing our wounds. I have a few superficial cold injuries on my fingers, from today, and Jenny has the same on her toes, from early on in the trip. This is not frostbite, but close.

Today's weather was much different than yesterday's. We woke up to a clear sky, not a cloud anywhere. The sun was doing its best, but fighting a losing battle against the southeast 10 to 15 knot wind. The temperature was minus 25 degrees C all day.

The skiing started out well and Jenny took the lead early on. Twenty minutes later she stopped and said she was out of breath and could hardly pull her sled. She asked me take some weight from her sled, which I gladly did, and then I took the lead.

No doubt people have become hypothermic in Antarctica, but more likely they just quick freeze. The surface of the body begins to freeze long before the core temperature drops. You have only a matter of minutes until your hands stop working.

I suggested we set up the tent, quick. But she wanted to get moving, figuring that she would warm up through exercise. I helped put on her insulated jacket, put her overmitts back on, and she took off post haste with me right beside her. In five minutes she was warm enough to stop again and put on her insulated pants.

Originally she could not catch her breath and the sled felt very heavy, so she psyched herself out figuring she was having a bad day. And it all went downhill from there. In actuality we were climbing a steep hill. She didn't realize this, and that is why her sled felt heavy, and that is why she couldn't catch her breath. Antarctica plays with your mind; it has tricked me many times.

With Jenny feeling warm again, she wanted to ski behind me, which she did for the rest of the day. I was quite happy with that.

An hour later the cold started affecting me, so I stopped and put on my insulated jacket for the first time ever (while skiing) on this trip. I skied with the jacket for half an hour until I was warm again, and no longer needed it.

photo

My overmitts are getting worn and thin, so my hands were cold at times today.

All day we climbed this hill, and still there is no end in sight. It is the same hill we climbed all day yesterday. It feels like a hill because we have to ski slowly, or else we are out of breath. And it looks like a hill, at least when you look straight ahead. But when you look to either side it looks level; same with looking back. Perhaps it is very gradually sloped and the sensation of steepness is caused by the altitude.

photo

photo

Jenny skiing in her insulated pants and jacket.

photo

More of the sun's visual effects. Either that or the Earth is zooming towards the Sun, but we don't feel any warmth yet.

All day we skied on hard crust. But when we stopped to make camp, and took our skis off, our boots sunk in 3 to 4 inches and we realized it was the same situation as last night. The snow is deep, but it has a hard, wind-blown crust.

The bright sun persisted all day, so we were glad to crawl into the tent for its solar warmth. Now we have boot liners hanging from the ceiling to dry, as well as overmitts, face masks, neck gaiters, scarves, and gloves. The wind has stopped and the night is quiet and very pleasant.

photo

It's drying time again. For the first time on the trip, we're drying both pair of book liners, because both of us could use a little more warmth in the feet.

Countdown: 65 miles

Evening camp: S 89° 02.255' W 84° 58.096'

Today's mileage: 12.2

Temperature: -25C

Note: Congratulations to our good friends Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald who arrived at the Pole today, on day 52 of their expedition. Jenny and I were not informed of this until after we reached the pole ourselves, on day 57 of our expedition. Escape to the Pole

The story has 67 pages. This is page 56.
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