South Pole Wrap Up

Scott Kress South Pole

Scott Kress South Pole

I arrived back in Punta Arenas on January 3 after a long overnight flight from Antarctica. There is so much to say and to tell that it is impossible to do in this brief blog. We arrived at the South Pole on December 30 at 5pm. Our official completion time is 43 days, 3 hours, and 30 minutes. Not a speed record by any definition, but pretty darn good! With this adventure I become the 7th Canadian and the 119th person in history to complete what is defined as a full unsupported and unassisted ski to the South Pole. I also become one of the few people in history to climb the 7 Summits (the highest peak on each continent – including Mt Everest), and to ski to the South Pole and the North Magnetic Pole.

This was no question the toughest expedition of my life. Yes, I would say harder that Everest even. The difference is that a full-ski South Pole expedition requires a tremendous level of physical exertion for 8-10 hours a day for almost 44 days in our case. We only took 3 half-day rests over this entire period. Any fitness trainer would tell you this type of routine is crazy and will only result in injury; and they are right. We all suffered during the trip and I will be recovering for quite some time to get over various injuries and ailments acquired during this adventure. This type of expedition will exploit and weakness and prior injury you may have and pound on it day after pain filled day.

I have determined, and my team mates will back me up, that there are no easy days on a unsupported ski to the South Pole. As we limped into camp at the end of each day we realized there are only hard days, really hard days, and F@#king hard days. Even near the end when our sleds had lost much of their weight, the altitude (over 9000-feet), accumulated fatigue, caloric deficit,  and chronic injuries made the pulling excruciatingly hard and slow.

On December 30 at 5pm as we skied the final few feet to the South Pole I was overcome with emotion. The combination of accomplishment and the sense of relief was great. We were very fortunate to spend New Years eve at the South Pole and I was able at move back and forth between all the time zones in the world with a few steps and was able to celebrate the new year many times.

We were granted a tour at the famous Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station which was fascinating. The Research and science taking place there is well beyond my understanding, but fascinating none-the-less.

After a couple days at the Pole we flew back to Union Glacier and then back to Punta Arenas. Beds, showers, non-dehydrated food, warmth, sunset, and walking without being tied to a sled are some of the simple pleasures I am currently enjoying.

Thanks for following along with my adventure. I hope you were able to gain enjoyment from my journey.

Antarctica Update: January 1

Ryan Waters from Mountain Professionals posted an update today.

p1010600Congratulations to our incredible team of South Pole skiers who are hanging out at the Pole today getting photos and enjoying the finish line of the trip! We arrived to the South Pole camp in 44 days from the coast and skied roughly 495 Nautical Miles to reach the Geographic South Pole via an unsupported full ski trip!

We had a great New Year’s Eve day at the ALE South Pole camp and special thanks to Hannah and Doc Martin for taking great care of our group. We had a great  New Years celebration with some awesome food that was like a dream after expedition food for so many days in a row. Part of our group (Scott was one of them) even made it over to the ceremony at the South Pole base to see the new 2017 geographic Pole marker put in the ground, and somehow we came away with the bamboo stick that was the literal place holder of the 2017 spot, so that is a cool piece of history that we signed and will bring back! It paid to stay awake and see the event! We are all doing well and will fly back some 3 plus hours this evening to Union Glacier camp and it is likely that the team may be on the return Illyusian flight back to Punta Arenas, Chile tonight through until the early a.m. hours landing back in civilization! So we will check back in as things progress.

Antarctica Update: December 30

I am happy to let you know that at around 5pm today their time the team arrived at  the South Pole.  It was a very exhausting day as the snow again was very sticky.  Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE) the company that runs all expeditions on Antarctica has a small base set up at the South Pole.  Scott said they had a nice dinner in a warm dining tent with the 2 ALE staff.  They also will have their own personal sleeping tents tonight. Scott just texted and said. ” It is good to be here and already it does not seem so bad.  We forget the suffering quickly once we are comfortable again.”  They will stay at the Pole until January 1st when they are picked up and flown back to the main ALE base at Union Glacier.  Then on January 3rd they fly from Union Glacier to Punta Arenas Chile where they have another couple of days before flying home.

Pretty cool to ring in 2017 at the South Pole!

 

Antarctica Update: December 28

Ryan Waters from Mountain Professionals posted a blog update yesterday.

These can be the most challenging days in a full length polar ski trip, when you are very close to the goal but just literally have to keep putting in your time with no short term landmarks to aim for.

We had a great little Christmas here, too much chocolate accompanied by a big dinner and a sip of incredible Bailey’s Irish creme to finish! The past two days since Christmas day have been hard mentally, but very good as far as distance.

Tonight we are at 89’25 so we are hoping that we will arrive in 3 days time at the South Pole if all goes well.  This means we aim to be  skiing into the bottom of the world at the night of the 30th. We battle the little aches and pains and all the usual things that come along with skiing 470 Nautical Miles over the last 40 days! But we hold on strong and keep on pushing to the finish!

Antarctica Update: December 27th

more-snowfall-actually-means-less-ice-in-antarcticaThere have been no blog posts on Ryan Waters Mountain Professional site since December 19th so I thought I would provide an update.  The team is slowly making progress but have had no easy days in the last week.  They got out of the really tough sastrugi filled terrain on December 23rd.  Unfortunately although the terrain got flatter the snow was not good.   It was the “anti-glide” type of snow that Scott talked about in his blog post on December 9th. This makes every ski step slow and difficult.  The weather has also been more challenging as well.  The days are cold, windy and the light is very flat making hard to see. Scott is also suffering physically as an old ankle injury is acting up with the repetitive movement every day and he said that he is in pain pretty much every minute they are skiing.  Despite all the difficulties they are averaging about 20 kilometers per day.  They did take a half rest day on Christmas day.  This was a hard day for Scott emotionally as it was difficult to be away from family and friends on Christmas.  The rest day was good however as he now seems more focused and motivated to make it to the Pole.  They are thinking they will reach the Pole on December 30th or December 31st. Only 3 or 4 more days to go!