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.