Category Archives: South Pole Expedition

Half rest day

Today the team reports nice weather and 15 kilometers of progress. They slept in to get a little extra rest and were off in the afternoon. Their current location is S 86.45.336, W 86.4.226.

Dennis, in his audio update, gives us a lesson in latitude and longitude. He reminds us that each degree of latitude is 60 nautical miles, or 69 statute miles, or 111 kilometers. When they phone in their report every day the most important item we listen for is their latitude. We can tell a lot about their day depending on what number we hear. The lines of longitude, which converge at the South Pole, provide far less information, if any at all. When very close to the South Pole they will be able to cross all the lines of longitude in a few steps. Of course the two coordinates combined give us their position.

Lunch break with Thiel Mountains in background. This was taken a few days ago.
Parallels of latitude are not always precisely the same distance apart. For instance, near the equator each parallel of latitude is approximately 110.57 kilometers apart. Near sixty degrees north or south each degree of latitude is 111.42 km apart. Near 75 degrees each degree of latitude is close to 111.61 km apart, and near the poles each degree of latitude is close to 111.69 km apart.

Of course longitude is much different. At the equator each meridian is separated by 1 degree, or 60 nautical miles, or 111.3 km. At sixty degrees each meridian is separated by half that distance (30 nautical miles, or 55.8 km). At seventy five degrees north or south each meridian is 28.9 km apart, and at the poles, where they all converge, there is no distance between them.

All that matters to our team is that they keep taking steps forward, one at a time, and whenever those steps add up to a degree there is reason to celebrate!

Make sure to listen to Dennis’ audio update and check back again tomorrow for another update from the team!

Jan 2nd: More uphill…

Dennis enjoys the good weather.

Today the team reports more beautiful weather and lots of uphill travel. The sleds are getting lighter which helps with the ascent, but it still made for a long day. They are happy they did not have large sastrugi to deal with, but they are told to expect more sastrugi in the coming days. The team skied 24 kilometers and ended at S 86.37.434, W86.29.884. The temperature was -21 C with a light wind.

We know from Briony’s audio report that there is a lot of good banter back and forth amongst the team members. Having a sense of humour on an expedition like this can be a great release of stress. A good laugh reminds everyone that it’s important to have fun, even on the toughest days.

Happy New year & South Pole traditions

Today the team traveled 23.1 kilometers in white-out conditions. The temperature was around -17 C with a 10 knot wind that added a bit of chill. The day finioshed with sunshine and the team toasted in the new year and had a bit of a party with streamers and hats to celebrate the start of 2012.

Today at the South Pole a special ceremony took place. The annual moving of the Geographical South Pole marker. Every New Year’s day a team of surveyors from the United States Geological Survey locate ninety degrees South with precision. They fix the spot with a metal pole topped with a special sculpted marker, roughly 8 inches in diameter. Each marker is… “designed, selected and machined by the handful of hardy souls who keep the scientific enterprise operating during the six months of cold, darkness and total isolation that are the hallmarks of a polar winter.”

This year’s marker, a bronze sextant, commemorates Amundsen’s historic expedition and the “Heroic Age” of Antarctic exploration. On the side and bottom of the marker there are 47 individual degree marks representing the number of people who wintered-over at the South Pole in 2010.

On New Year’s Day next year, this marker will be roughly 10 meters from the “new” South Pole marker freshly placed at 90 degrees South. That’s how fast the ice is moving north towards the ocean.

The team’s current position is S.86.24.550, W 86.58.935. Bob, in his audio update, mentions a precaution the team takes in white-out conditions to help ensure they don’t lose sight of each other. It is amazing how quickly the blowing snow can reduce visibility to nothing. Even a couple meters between people can make it very difficult, if not impossible to see one another. Skiing with the tips of one person’s skis just off the back end of the next person’s sled helps ensure that everyone sticks together.
For the full audio blog from Bob go to

Last ski day of 2011…

Today the team reported good conditions with sun, blue sky and barely a breath of wind. They were expecting a climb between 86 and 87 degrees and today they got just that, with uphill travel all day. They skied 25 kilometers and ended at S86.12.224, W86.46.073.

They were celebrating the arrival of the new year in their tents with a little whisky and vodka! They are, of course, all thinking of loved ones and friends back home, and wishing them well on this New Year’s Eve. They hope to be sending some photos of their party to us, and if they come through we will post them tomorrow.

We forwarded all the New Year’s greetings that we received. We know that your messages of support and congratulations mean a lot to the team! Thanks for keeping them in mind as you celebrate your holidays!

Make sure to listen to Dennis’ audio report and check back again tomorrow for another update from the team!

Much better conditions…

Today the team reports much better traveling conditions with full sun and gently rolling hills. The team was shooting to reach 86 degrees and they almost made it, ending at S 85.58.800, W 86.49.621. That is a total of 24 kilometers.

BB gives a description of what keeps them going through the monotony of pulling. They are all looking forward to New Year’s Eve but BB wonders, from the sound coming the boy’s tent, if there will be any vodka left with which they can celebrate!

Camp with Thiel Mountains in background

BB leaves two audio reports today. Make sure to listen to them both and check back again tomorrow for another update from the team.