On our way home!

From Alan………..

Well here we are, just some 48 hours since our final steps to the South Pole.

On reaching the pole the experience of being at the bottom of the world is surreal, exhilarating and humbling.

We were blessed with some perfect weather for our pole day, with clear blue skies and low winds although obviously still in the -25c region!

At the South Pole the dramatic circle of flags surrounding a raised silver ball marking the place of the ceremonial South Pole as well as the nearby simple sign showing the Geographical North Pole (which is moved every year by 10ft due to glacial shifts).  It was very emotional stood contemplating these flags, due to what they represented to us as much as they did a geographical marker; this was the conclusion of so many days of effort.

That evening we devoured fresh bread, salmon, cheese and a couple of beers.  After completing various photographs and phone calls I fell into a dreamless sleep with the knowledge that for the first time in 39 days our morning would not commence with the agonising chore of melting snow and preparing for another day pulling our pulks.

The following day we were fortunate enough to visit the centre at the pole and although we had to experience some of the team members belief that there was an ‘area 51′ equivalent there, it was a fascinating experience and of course the novelty of being in a warm environment was still fresh.

After a brief lunch we flew back in a small twin otter plane to Union Glacier on the coast of Antarctica.  During the flight we all thought the same thing, in 10 minutes of flight time we had covered the equivalent of a day hauling sleds, it was quite depressing!

So here we are now, all packed, fed and waiting for a Russian cargo jet and weather permitting will be back off to Chile tonight.

There are so many people we would like to thank, but that list would be as large as our blog posts combined, that said there are a few we would like to mention:

Firstly our sponsors, Arclight Capital for their incredible generosity and support, Tuck and Haas Schools both staff, students and alumni with their encouragement and commitment to the cause, Marmott, Mojamix, 110% and Oakley for the equipment and expertise. Lastly Iridium for keeping us connected.

A huge thank you to our guide Hannah McKeand whose wealth of experience has made the expedition easier also the support team in Antarctica who have made the trip smooth and who do a mean cooked breakfast at the South Pole station.

Furthermore we want to thank friends and family and significant others who have donated time (and in the case of my wife her patience) and support for the expedition.  A few shout outs however, Liz, Garrick, Russ and Matt thank you for your time and efforts.  To Suzanne Kentish (Richard’s sister) who drove the Polar Vision machine reliably and expertly in our absence, we would have been lost without her.

Finally a thanks to all of you who have followed us via this blog, asking questions, sending words of encouragement and keeping us in your thoughts.  All of you have been a part of this journey.

We hope that Polar Vision with the media and funds generated will have an impact on our charities Sightsavers and Guide dogs and the blind and for partially sighted and the blind communities around the globe.

Thank you once again from all of the Polar Vision team for the last time here in Antarctica

Alan, Richard and Andrew

****** WE MADE IT! ******

From Richard

WE MADE IT!!!!!

We finally reached the South Pole after 39 days.  It is fair to say the team are excited, elated and exhilarated but also exhausted.  The weather has been very kind to us today; it’s been beautiful to come into the South Pole.

Unfortunately Andrews binding gave way half way through the day but we took some weight off him and we shared it around the team and the team marched on regardless.  Despite the linguistic contradiction, we feel we are on top of the world right now!!

We have to take the photographs to capture this moment then off to have a cup of tea and a nice warm meal.

Its a fantastic day for the team and everyone is delighted and really excited.

We have so many people to thank and we will do so individually over the next few days.  We want to however give a big shout out to our sponsors Arclight Capital and Iridium, plus all the students, staff and alumni at both Tuck at Dartmouth and Haas Schools.

We could not have done this without everyone’s support and it’s been great to hear all your messages of goodwill and support throughout the trek, we are all very grateful.

We will write more later but want to let you know we are all incredibly excited to have made it!

Right, off for that hot cuppa, anyone have a Jaffa cake to dunk?

Ask the Boys……………..

This will be the last Ask the Boys post whilst they are trekking…… all being well with the weather and the teams fitness and equipment they should arrive at the pole at some point tomorrow or early Thursday!

 

Hi boys!  I have a question…how will you be seeing in the new year? Have you got any celebrations planned :) ? HAPPY NEW YEARS and well done – what you are doing is amazing!
Jo Lock

Richard answered – We celebrated New Years on UK time given ¾ are british, this allowed us allowed us to go to bed at our normal time of 9.00ish, we still had a little whiskey!

 

Andrew mentioned carrying all the biowaste for the last 75miles or so. Is there an incinerator at the pole or what happens to all the waste from all the various visitors?  You can count on one hand walking days left. You are all incredible. xx Vanessa Lock

Andrew answered – The waste is flown back to Chile

 

Are there only certain times of the day/night that the Iridium phone will work? Do you have to wait until a satellite is overhead?
Pop

Andrew answered – The Iridium Phones have been amazing, they work 24 hours, Iridium have an outstanding satellite network which covers the globe

 

There is little snow in the Colorado Mountains, snowpack is almost at record lows.
Today, this week, in Denver the temperature will be close to 60 degrees.
In the short amount of time Hannah has visited the South Pole has she experienced warmer weather, wilder, weather events?
Pop

Hannah answered – Although we have had many storms and cold temperatures, this summer has been milder than some I have experienced in Antarctica.  Its always a wild card with the weather but we have been lucky.

 

So close. Thinking about your effort everyday. Stay on it. One question prompted by the newest pix. How good will a shower feel? Jim Durning

All the team answered –  It will be the best warm shower ever!…….. 

 

As you probably know, the A-Team is made up of 4 members- If you were the A-Team, which character would each of you play and why? Andrew Lock

Richard answered – After careful consideration (which is what the question requires!  Richard – Face, Alan is Murdoch, Andrew is BA and Hannah is Hannibal!

 

So what time zone are you guys on exactly? Or do you just make up your own as it goes along?
Enjoy the last few days, guys!!  We’re all so excited for you. Scott Shapiro

Andrew answered – Whichever we choose but on Chilean time, which is 3 hours behind GMT.  The sun on back all the time whilst trekking?

 

Will there be a special event/observance when you come home? If not there should be! Gloria Cordova

Richard answered – Nothing planned as yet, just concentrating on reaching the pole and getting back home to family and friends – we won’t rule anything out though!

Home thoughts from abroad

From Richard……………

We are genuinely very pleased, grateful and excited to be here, we really are, however at this stage of the expedition we are very pleased, grateful and excited to be going home.

We are all feeling the real niggles now, sore backs, blisters, tiredness and lethargy, we never really rest ‘properly’ as you are still in a sleeping bag…….. in a tent…….. in Antarctica……..  It is inevitable that we all feel that way, we have covered a long distance, but it is the physical respite that now surfaces.

There is a lot of ‘stuff’ we all want to get on with in the ‘real world’.  When you are marching for 7 ½ hours a day it is akin to meditation, you get a rhythm and your mind is free to wander where it may.  Usually it goes to your life back home; I should see some friends more often.  I should concentrate on certain things in my professional life.  I should concentrate on certain things in my personal life.  I should make sure that we are using this fantastic experience and legacy of Polar Vision as effectively as possible.

We are each building a mental ‘to do’ list that we are keen to start ticking things off as soon as possible.  Although, we are not at the pole yet, we must not get complacent.

It has been a truly memorable life changing experience; the responsibility is on each of us now to use this experience in a positive, productive and meaningful way.  Starting from the day we get home.

Happy new year to all of you, and a healthy, wealthy 2012