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

2007-01-07 page 61 of 67

Day 58: Almost There

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Jenny:

This was my most enjoyable day. And it was not that the buildings at the pole were visible, although they certainly gave me something to look at besides endless miles of snow, ice, sastrugi, or the clouds forming, moving, dissipating, or the tail end of Ray's sled.

Today it seemed I had found a small reservoir of energy. The flat terrain helped, and the relatively warm day. When you are not constantly battling to stay warm, the energy can instead be used for forward progress.

Most of all, though, I finally began to see the hidden, subtle beauty of Antarctica. It had been there all along, but I had failed to see it all these long days.

I wondered what the actual land looks like under all this ice. Barren rocks, of course, perhaps similar to the great Canadian Shield when that ice cap retreated.

It's hard to believe we are just 5.5 miles from the pole. I tried to picture ourselves, here at the "bottom" of the world. As I trucked along, with my gaze fixed ahead at the pole, I remembered a line from a movie, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. Frodo and Sam are lost in a rocky maze, and as Frodo slips and lands at the foot of a cliff, he calls up to Sam, "I think I found the bottom."

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Ray: We started out in beautiful weather, clear sky, bright sun, and only about 3 to 5 knots of wind out of the east.

Speaking of which, the sun travels around the sky maintaining an altitude of about 20 degrees above the horizon. On December 21 or thereabouts, the sun was at its high point of 23 degrees, and now it is getting noticeably lower as the summer is waning.

About an hour into our morning, still 16 or 17 miles distant from the pole, we saw an infinitesimally small black dot on the southern horizon, lying almost directly on our path.

We high-fived each other. The pole station at last!

Other than the cache at Thiels, and a couple of airplanes, this black dot has been the only other man-made object we have seen in almost two months.

That is one thing I like about Antarctica, of many: It is pristine. In fact, it is the most pristine place I have ever been. I like that. The Barrenlands of northern Canada, where we go canoeing, fall into much the same category. There, one finds very little trash. Yet here, we have seen absolutely no trash. (When we rowed the Atlantic, trash floating on the water was common.)

And by the way, we always carry all our trash with us. At present, we have an extra-large stowbag full of trash, and three empty gallon fuel cans. The trash will be flown back to Chili and disposed of there. The empty fuel cans may be re-filled for use by another expedition.

In another hour the black dot disappeared from view, and the hill began; and this went on through the remainder of the day. But the terrain was fairly smooth, and with the good weather we enjoyed the day very much.

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For the technically minded, you can tell about what time it is, in some of these photos. Assuming we are skiing south, look at the angle of the shadows. Throughout the day, the shadows move counter-clockwise 15° per hour. (24h x 15°/h = 360° full circle.) Look at the shadow in this photo, and compare the angles to those of the first photo on this page. Our present longitude is given on the bottom of the page, and we are using UTC -3 time zone of Punta Arenas, Chile.

Mid afternoon the black dot reappeared, and grew very, very slowly. At quitting time we had several (eight) buildings in sight, but they are still a long ways off - five and a half miles.

photo

Five and a half miles from the South Pole station. We didn't know it, but the station management and communications officers had been expecting us, and presently a comms operator had noted our tent through her binoculars.

Five and a half miles might not sound like much, but at our rate of progress, it is still half a day's travel. But compared to the original 750 miles, it is not all that much.

Countdown: 5.5 miles to the Pole

Evening camp: S 89° 55.224' W 94° 46.417'

Today's mileage: 12.6 in 10.5 hrs

Altitude: 9250', Temperature: -19C

The story has 67 pages. This is page 61.
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