Saturday, January 5, 2013

First Night Out

The team is spending their first night out roughly 60 nautical miles from the South Pole. As anticipated they spent morning skiing and performing a "dress rehearsal" of expedition life. After a quick dinner at Union Glacier they departed for their expedition embarkation point.

They skied a short distance after unloading the aircraft, and pitched their camp of five three-man tents. The conditions are actually quite comfortable at the moment. Keith called in the dispatch without wearing gloves, and several team members have stripped down to their midlayers while lounging in the tents. The actual temperature is -13 Fahrenheit / -25 Celsius, but, it feels much warmer inside the tents because of the dry climate and intense solar radiation.

The very, very flat Antarctic Plateau (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Some team members may have a little trouble getting to sleep tonight because of today's elevation gain. They slept at 3,000 ft last night, but will sleep tonight on the 9,800 ft Antarctic Plateau. This nearly two mile high, exceedingly flat plateau has a diameter of roughly 620 miles and surrounds the South Pole.

So while the team will encounter effectively zero elevation change during the expedition, they will have to adjust to the cold air's sparse oxygen density. Actually, Antarctic travelers report that the cold, dry air intensifies the physical effects of the altitude. So our team may feel as though they living well above 10,000 ft. 

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