Well folks here is my second missive of the trip – made possible now because of a not totally unexpected delay to our departure. Yesterday we were plucked from the rigours of the South Pole, right at the last minute, having started to prepare ourselves for further bad weather and a stay of two days or more in temperatures of -30 chilled down to -49 with the wind. The pilot of the Basler found a window in the weather and picked us up, arriving back at Union Glacier using IFR for the first time ever here [instrumental landing as the visibility was so poor!]. We were welcomed by a celebratory champagne dinner, complete with toasts and lauding of the team including ourselves, our guides, the pilots, the support staff and not forgetting all those folks at home. We have no internet access so are almost completely oblivious of all the intense activity which has been happening on the web site, all the messages of support and encouragement we have yet to read! At lunchtime today we were briefed by the Met man and Steve Jones – the logistics guy from ALE. Sunshine and clear blue skies were visible behind these guys as they delivered the news that the Ilyushin could not leave Punto and would be unlikely to land here for three days! Since then there has been frantic phone calls home for all of us to rearrange hectic schedules back in the real world. Not least in all our hearts is an even longer prolonged absence from you all, for that we are heartbroken and now must wait a little longer for that first hug!!
I almost forgot, on 9th we reached our goal of the South Pole, an incredibly emotional and uplifting experience. The journey has been punishing, and we all are nursing some physical scars of our trek – but we have willingly exchanged the discomfort and adversity for the intense satisfaction of the achievement. We long for the reunions folks and can’t wait, really sorry it is delayed.
Love to you all, Jeff