Day 12: All Kinds of Weather

Location:  south 89.43.717, west 83.17.894

We did 8.6 nautical miles today.

When we woke up it was actually really, really cold but the sun was out was a little bit and as the day wore on we saw all kinds of everything.  We had increasing wind. We had snow. We had overcast skies across the horizon, and then as we came to camp the sun came back again.

As Michel and I were walking back the last little bit into camp, all of a sudden we felt the earth move and as Keith explained it to me, it was like a horizontal avalanche because different layers of snow underneath the top crust that had just collapsed. We could hear it and we could actually feel the motion. Apparently this is quite common and absolutely nothing to be worried about. Continue reading “Day 12: All Kinds of Weather”

Day 11: The Half Way Point

Location: south 89.35.1, west 83.55.930

Well, we finally crossed the half way point! We woke up today and it was not as cold as yesterday, but there was much more wind and in fact, the sun had disappeared.

As a result, when you look around at the horizon, it gets a little nauseating because you can’t tell where the ground ends and the sky begins. Because of the wind, it felt much colder than it was, reaching the – 40 degrees Celsius region.

About mid-way through the day, we crossed the halfway point and had a big cheer celebration to know that we were now more than half way on the task of skiing to the South Pole.

Because of the weather, we did four long pushes that were about 2 to 2.1 miles with only three rests. Continue reading “Day 11: The Half Way Point”

Day 10: The Antarctic bears her teeth

We did 8.5 miles today. We are currently at south 89.26.818, west 82.311.165.

Certainly we had a much bigger flavour today than what we’ve been seeing over the last few days. It’s about -30 degrees Celsius today and with the wind chill, it’s in the –40 to -50 range. The wind was coming initially from the south and then from the southwest. Really changed the whole feeling of the day.

Because of the cold and because of the wind, we opted to do only did four pushes and three stops, meaning each push was longer and the stops were shorter.

This takes me to one of the single most important things that happens when you’re on a trip like this, and that is systems. Continue reading “Day 10: The Antarctic bears her teeth”

Day 9

Again, another hot night but as the morning came, the temperature started to drop and it was about -30 degrees Celsius today and the winds were coming in from the south making for quite a cool day.

We managed to knock off just around 8 miles so we’re now at south 89.18.321 by west 81.58.404.

Very steady day on the trail. We’ve been dancing with another group that was here ands we’ve been passing each other’s paths off and on. Right now, they are a couple of miles to the west of us but we can see them in the distance.

I led for a time today and it was absolutely serene. I had Miles Davis on and it was the most incredible moment and then all of a sudden AC/DC “You Shook Me” came on and the moment was shattered.

One of the really interesting things is that when you stand around, it appears to be uphill in every direction. Continue reading “Day 9”

Day 8

South 89.10.250 by W 83.27.755

Temperature -20, no wind.

It was an incredibly warm night even though it was about -25 or -30 degrees Celsius outside. Because of the radiance and thermal energy from the sun, it got so hot in the tent I was sleeping on top of my sleeping bag in my skivvies.

We woke up to a gorgeous day; a traditional blue bird day. You could see forever.  When you look out on the incredible expanse, you recognize that you really are just stuffed in this immense polar cap.

Looking at it, I said to Keith, “why did you choose this career?”, and his answer was, “because it was easy.” I think he was using his usual sarcasm.

Started out with tea with the boys and then we got on with the day.

On the trail.

It’s very easy to see that when you look out on the never-ending stretch of polar cap, it really plays with your head. By the time you’ve done pi to the power of seven and calculated that number, you realize you still have still got six hours of skiing and pulling left to do. Continue reading “Day 8”

Day 7: Sledgehammer

Coordinates: S 89 degrees O3.871 by W 83 degrees 20.446

The team’s campsite


The team is promoting throughout the trek

We woke up this morning and all of us were feeling the acute effects of the significant altitude. Even though we’re not as high as you might think of when climbing other areas or being in other areas of altitude, because the air at the pole is thin/stretched, it behaves much higher.

It’s safe to say everyonefeels like we’ve been hit between the eyes with a sledgehammer.  Almost everyone at camp had a headache and some of us also had nausea and vomiting.

It made for a challenging day but we got going. We were able to accomplish about five miles today over five hours. The weather was not ideal; it was -25 degrees Celsius and the wind was coming in steadily from the north-east. Continue reading “Day 7: Sledgehammer”

Day 6: Antarctica

Sat around waiting.. 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and finally at 5, they came in to tell us that the flight was a go.

The restored Basler DC3, which brought the team to the polar ice cap.

We packed up our stuff, got our sleds organized and made our way to the most incredible plane. It is a Basler DC3 that was made in 1944 for the Royal Canadian Air Force. There is a plaque in the cockpit that shows its lineage.

It was originally designed as a military plane for cargo and parachuting and it’s been refurbished. It is in impeccable condition and it is stunning.  All Canadian crew. Continue reading “Day 6: Antarctica”

Day 6: Union Glacier

Cold – fog rolling in on the horizon, which has done two things: dropped the temperature and put our flight today into potential jeopardy.

Sleep is a challenge. Brilliant, bright, bright night – it’s so weird. Even if you use all the devices to cover your eyes, you still feel like you’re trying to sleep staring at the sun.

HR Sunbathing
Dr. Ross works on her tan at Union Glacier

A twin-otter  plane also landed at midnight, but despite all of this, everyone got some sleep.

At glacier camp, we had eggs, ham, pancakes and fruit for breakfast.

A well-stocked Antarctic kitchen

Today was day of organization. We practiced packing the sled,…ski bindings, poles with funny little pole covers – pogey or poggie (sp?) – to try and reduce hand frostbite.

Then we went for ski back towards airstrip. We stopped and set up group tent, which we’ll use to eat if the world is reasonable.

Then we practiced with all the different stoves – whisper light and a good old-fashioned boy scout two burner Coleman (Dad, I think they took yours.)

If all is well, we hope to be leaving at around 5 p..m. our time for a four or five hour flight to the last degree.

We still don’t know yet whether it will happen. It is completely weather and wind dependent. If everything goes well, the next blog will be from the last degree. Wish us luck.

Day 5: Union Glacier

The busiest airport in Antarctica


The TYL smile for a photo after arriving at Union Glacier.

It’s only -7 and we’re 864 m above sea level.

Well, the plane took off and 5 hours later we landed at Union Glacier! We are here. Its 6:45 and dinner is at 7. Our luggage (so fun to call it that!) our gear will be offloaded shortly. It’s 8 kilometres from the blue ice runway to camp. We still need to set up tents etc….. will be a late night. Dinner at 7, briefing at 9 then we go out to set camp.

The plane is one helluva beast. Its kind of hard to describe what it feels like. But imagine BIG with no amenities. They did serve lunch to us!

When you deplane, it feels like you have landed on a lunar landscape – nothing but snow, glaciers and mountains. Distance is impossible to determine – you look at a mountain and it is 20 kilometres away and the glacier is 4 kilometres wide. You can see for miles.

The camp is pristine and its location makes it ideal for camping as the wind is minimal. We are putting up camp beside the main area. Then there are two large tents for eating – one for the ALE clients and one for clients guided by others: us and Polar Explorers.

Tomorrow we are supposed to break camp, ski out 4 kilometres and set camp, do some exercises (stove etc.), then we ski back and either set camp here or fly out to the last degree… We don’t know yet.

Dr. Delgado does his best airplane pose in front of the Ilyushin

Day 5: Punta Arenas – The Call Came!

Dale, Diego and Heather waiting to board the Ilyushin in Punta Arenas.

12:30 p.m.


The bus will be here in 45 minutes. Fingers crossed that there will be no last minute changes!

Hopefully the next blog will be from Union Glacier!