We reached the Geographic South Pole at 6.30pm on the 18th January, tired but elated to have completed the 1400 kilometre journey from the coast of the Antarctic continent.
Our final day started cold (-32degC) and overcast with a freezing wind blowing from the North. After almost a week of clear skies and light winds the Antarctic plateau had an ominous feel to it. We were up and eating breakfast by 4am, an early start after crawling into our sleeping bags at midnight. The day before had been tough and very long. We were camped 27kms from the South Pole and ready for one last big effort. There was a feeling of excitement and trepidation between us as we stepped into our skis and clipped into our sled harnesses for the final time. The plan was simple, one foot in front of the other and don’t get frostbite. We knew if we stuck to the plan we would get there in 12 hours time.
With 10kms to go we saw a glint on the horizon, the sun reflecting off something metallic. Our first glimpse of civilisation in 66 days. A few minutes later it was gone as the sun was again immersed in cloud. We skied on into the gloom and soon dark objects began to emerge on the horizon and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station came into view. It was an emotional moment for both of us, three years of hard graft and a childhood dream finally realised. I welled up thinking of the end of our journey and of home. The tears made my goggles mist up and then freeze annoyingly! I pulled myself together and prepared to ski the final 8km to the South Pole. After being dropped off on edge of Berkner Island 66 days before we had finally reached the end of our journey. We had pushed as hard as our bodies could go. No rest days, late starts or early finishes – we gave it everything everyday. There were many times when we thought we might not make it to the South Pole as we moved agonisingly slowly through some of the hardest conditions we have ever faced. The fate of the expedition depended on us not breaking ourselves or our gear. Our priority was to stay physically fit and healthy – no broken bones in the sastrugi or cold injuries in the -30degC temperatures.
We nursed ourselves and our gear through. Two broken skis, three broken bindings and numerous other bits of kit that we had to fix to keep moving forward. Failure of any of these critical items would have meant a call for rescue.
At 6.30pm on the evening of the 18th January we finally stood at the Geographic South Pole, friends and team-mates, having completed the toughest journey of our lives.
A huge thank you from Rich and I to all of you who have supported and sent us messages along the way. This will be our last daily blog post as we begin our journey home to our families. We fly from the South Pole to Union Glacier this evening and then on to Punta Arenas tomorrow, weather permitting.
Our generous sponsors have contributed to making this journey possible but a large part of this expedition is self funded so any donations help www.Antarctica2023.com.au