We arrived at the 89th Parallel on Saturday. On Friday night, we were instructed to be packed and ready to go in the morning, although the planned departure was for 1 p.m. or later. But as we found out at our 9:30 a.m. briefing, you don’t tell Antarctica what you are going to do – you do what it tells you to do. Our departure time was moved up to 10:30 a.m., which reinforced the lesson to be ready for all things at all times.
Some of the Last Degree Group members were organized enough to have the time to take a last shower in the portable unit before departing. I wasn’t quite as organized, but I managed to get a quick wash in before we were wheels up.
We were in good spirits as we headed to load our skis and sleds onto the plane. Batteries were charged with solar energy; our thermoses filled with hot water. Our plane was a World War II DC3 built in 1942. The DC3 is affectionately known as “The Gooney Bird” and is a fixed-wing, propeller-driven airliner. I have to say it’s just as cool to fly on a piece of history as it is to be representing Commvault, which has been committed to preserving and protecting the data and images being collected during SPEC, as well as helping the 2041 team manage and share their information with the world.
Our flight from Union Glacier was three-and-a-half hours long. As we touched down, I was overwhelmed by the vast nothingness that is the “Crystal Desert.” Upon landing, we skied 2.37 miles in about two hours. Based on where we started, I think we have 89 miles to cover in total. How we will go more than 8 miles a day on average is beyond me, but I know the Last Degree team will trust our experienced guides.
We are at a higher altitude now, and it is affecting some people. We are all tired, and some of us have headaches. But we are all well. For me, I know this is going to be a very hard adventure, but ultimately, a remarkable journey. More to come.