Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 35.9!: I've arrived at the Bottom of the World!

89:59.99S 00:16.0W

I'm HERE at the South Pole, I honestly believe it hasn't hit home yet!

I'm actually at 90 degrees South, but not sure Google Earth / The Diary can deal with 90 co-ordinates, so the 89 above!

Elevation: 2834

At 11h55 Punta Arenas time (GMT +3) my sled finally came to a halt at it's destination: The South Pole!

It took me almost 6 hours today, in almost 'dream' weather, clear blue sky, not too cold, but that headwind was 'just there' reminding me what yesterday was like... I was thankful that I'd  mentally prepared for the fact that it would take six hours to get to the place my mind had almost checked out that 'we' were already there...  It was a pretty relaxing ski, and to my total I spent almost the whole time reliving the two wonderful years I spent in 1984/5 (long time back!) living and working in Princeton, USA. I guess the linkage with the US base here is what triggered the whole thing. Anyway, thanks to that my mind was very relaxed, content with the special memories, and the kilometres sped by! In many ways I was dreading the six hours, as it was so close yet so far, and I was 'scared' how I'd deal with that conflict, and the relief prize awaiting! It's strange how the mind can sometimes take one by surprise.

The approach to the 'complex' is quite strange for what it is... There is this huge ice road that is virtually an ice highway, maybe 30 metres wide that I'm told runs the whole way from McMurdo base on the coast (opposite side to where I started) to the South Pole. I was given a waypoint that was a flagged beacon sticking 4km out in the middle of nowhere, but a 'T junction' into the highway... Hmmm, back into civilisation - roads, rules, instructions, and man made infrastructure! It did bloody stress me... I saw where I had to go, started cutting the corner, and then looked back and said: "Hey you have a very clear sled/ski trail telling 'people' where you went, and it's against the instructions, so there are no  disputes here, you had better go back and do it properly!" I didn't, but I did feel I was back in a 'policed' environment! I know this sounds overboard, but I'm sharing with you my genuine reactions after being totally free for 35.9 days!

Anyway, I 'yielded' at the intersection, as there was no 'highway traffic' in sight, turned 90 degree right and was now on the highway myself... 4km to go to the finish line... hmmm, still another 80 mins, yet everything looks so close... but I'm wiser now! It was quite fun, as I skied in a snowmobile trail, straight and fast. Eventually there was a '20 km/h Speed limit' sign, and then a few small tents and another sign: 'Campsite'... I was there... well a few hundred metres to the actual South Pole point, but this is where me and my friend 'sled' stopped our 'joint' journey... Forever? We shall see, but at least for 'a long while!' At least we are still good friends 'she' did well the last weeks.

It feels REAL GOOD to know its done, but I DO know I'll miss the simplicity, I can feel it already...

For the moment, I'm enjoying a warmish ALE tent environment (the one of two heaters is not working), a glass or two of good red wine, and RELAXING with a great sense of satisfaction! I'm the only 'guest' here... Scott the new base manager just flew in today, and cooked me a great salmon (yes, fish), non-pemmican, non-cheese, dinner... Total luxury, it's hard to explain, but it REALLY is...

I've set up my tent outside and will retire there soon for VERY pleasant dreams... I'm leaving the alarm to go off at 6am, just to enjoy switching it off, and going back to sleep...


I really look forward to getting the blog comments from after 24/12 soon...

52 comments:

  1. Great News Howard !!

    You made it to the South Pole. Never thought that we would know someone that would go to both the North and South Pole. This is really a great accomplishment !!!!

    Happy New Year !!

    RMC & OCC

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  2. Hello H
    Could say a hell of a lot more - 'Well done Boet' will suffice - looks like it is time for yet another liqueur - hope you can find one there too.
    Cheers
    C

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  3. Congratulation Howard - I've been following your journey daily with great interest and anticipation. For those of trapped in our "prisons" - by choice or otherwise - you have allowed us to share in your own adventure in the "big world". Truly special and what a wonderful personal achievement for you. Best wishes Mike

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  4. Fantastic!

    Well done Howard.
    I wonder, are you looking forward to kiting back now?
    Crazy man :D

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  5. Congrats Fairbanks, what a journey. Have a few glasses of wine for all your friends that have been following the trip.Hope to speak soon.
    Parnell

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  6. Wow at last! Congrats Howard. Completely in awe!

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  7. Huge Congrats Howard ... lost for words ... just an amazing feat & thanks so much for having me along for the ride. I don;t know how you do these things, but as others have said, feel very privileged to know you, and humbled by what you've achieved.
    Enjoy the "luxury" of the base, & Ruth's arrival.
    Best wishes & all the best for 2012
    John V-J

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  8. WOW, Congratulations for seeing through such an arduous journey, you are an inspiration to all of us.
    Well Done.
    Gill V-J

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  9. Unbelievable!! Huge congrats Howard, been following you all the way on a truly remarkable journey - enjoy putting the feet up and of course a red or two!!

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  10. Howard.....YOU HAVE DONE IT!!! (Not that anyone who knows you ever doubted it). Warmest congratulations (from Kathleen also)on a fantastic achievement that should deservedly put you on "top of the world". You have proven that when the spirit is strongly willing the flesh is not weak.
    Best wishes for a well earned rest. By the way, after this, what? Frank

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  11. Howard congratulations what an acheivment you are an inspiration
    to us all. It is very interesting how 'witnessing' your adventure puts ones own issues into perspective, true survival and yet simplicity of life
    We make it far too complicated and yet few will ever experience the feeling of success a challenge like this must bring
    Enjoy your rest and reliving your adventure through your diary/ blog it will be interesting to hear how your body has coped/ changed with the constant cold and energy out put after so many days on the ice
    Again congratulations
    Simon

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  12. Many congratulations! I raise a glass to you. Giles

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  13. Wonderful! Well done Howard ;) It has been fun to follow your steady progress. Lisa

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  14. Hi Howard,

    Congratulations! Well planned, well prepared for and well executed.

    All the best,
    Mike and Jane (London).

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  15. congrats H on an awesome adventure and achievement - especially one that so few have acheived solo and un-supported.

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  16. Dear Howard, Congratulations to you - It has been wonderful following your journey. As someone said we all now know someone very special who has walked to the North Pole AND the South Pole. Words cannot really describe how proud I feel of having met you. I'm sure Ruth will be proud of you as well. Your blog has been so inspirational really giving us all something to think about and ponder over for many years to come. I do hope I get the chance to see you again and give you a big, BIG HUG :) Thank you once again for such a thought provoking, insightful, wonderful and philosophical journey and...love and best wishes and big hugs, Anthea xxx

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  17. Hooray Hooray Hooray!! You did it. Congratulations and I wish you a Happy New Year with more adventures.

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  18. Hi Howard
    what a magnificent acievment!Proud of you and the way you went about it. Hope it sinks in slowly - must be a big shock to be in civilization and have riles,obligations and People around you. Dont feel under any pressure to kite back - what you have done is more than enough for 100 people.. Enjoy the buzz!
    Regards
    Martin

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  19. Fantastic News Howard. Give your friend Sled a pat on the back too. You seemed to be in harmony towards the end of your trip . . . rather like training a puppy dog! You deserve your sleep - hope every bit of your body is safe and sound. Thanks for the trip and I look forward to hearing whether you are kiting back. All the best, Maggie

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  20. That's sensational Howard! What an incredible achievement!!!
    I hope that you aren't too cut up about being back in civilisation... it has it's good points as well the disadvantages you have already highlighted. Louise and I were already musing about your next adventure and figured that we'd better not mention the moon...
    Enjoy your sleep my friend! You deserve a good rest indeed!
    George

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  21. Congratulations Howard :o) Well done, sir. Great work and a great achievement. You set out to do it and you've done it. Looking forward to hearing about the kiting. Say "Hi" to Ruth when you see her. All the best from Kitevibe.

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  22. I'm impressed. Well done Howard. I admire your stamina. Cheers, Richard Jones

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  23. Congratulations on your accomplishment!
    Enjoyed reading your blog.
    Lynn Schneider
    River Falls, WI USA

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  24. H. Well done my friend - we are very proud of you and your latest achievement . Enjoy the rest until Ruth catches up with you. Get accustomed to the rules and regulations of the remainder of the earths inhabitants. T

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  25. Well done mate, Dan and amelia arriving tomorrow, we'll raise a glass to you!!

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  26. Congrats Howard - it's been special following your incredible journey - thanks for the inspiration to challenge the boundaries and limitations we place on ourselves - now understand what the words "prison" and "freedom" actually mean - enjoy the moment ! Hans

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  27. Well done Howard! An inspiration to anyone, no matter how big or small their task!

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  28. YES!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am with you in thoughts, dear!
    Gonna take a glass of red wine with you!!
    Buttoms Up, Howard!!!
    Love & warm wishes for you, MaryLou X

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  29. Congratulations Howard on your epic journey and extraordinary achievement. All our lives will be richer (and hopefully simpler) for being able to share your experience and philosophy. Look forward to catching up over a glass of wine again in Cape Town.

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  30. Howard, This is so awesome! Congratulations man!
    Take care of yourself and I really hope to see you at some point soon!
    Alexei Sotskov

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  31. Fairbonk you biscuit! Well done mate.

    So what's next? (I know you know!)

    Cheers for now, D

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  32. I suspect it will take a while to decompress from this one. Enjoyed the journey thanks for sharing.

    Bob N

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  33. Congrats! Well done!

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  34. WOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!

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  35. Congratulations Howard. What an amazing adventure. It has been our pleasure to follow all of your trips since your bike ride in Africa. Best Wishes, Roberta & Jerry in CA

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  36. Well done Howard! Helke and I are very happy for you. Have a nice kite session!

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  37. Welcome Home Howard! I think the South Pole is a great home for you! You so deserve a really really good rest. My gut feel is that you would be better to forget the kite trip... you have done more than enough.. your body needs a good rest now..not more challenges.. let your body talk to you!!
    Brigitta and I so look forward to having a beer in St. James's or Kalk Bay and hearing more from you about the journey.
    But well done, man, and now just enjoy your well deserved rest and hopefully Ruth will be along in a few days to join you.
    Every good wish, Patrick and Brigitta

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  38. I was smiling the entire time I was reading your blog today. "You're THERE Howard, you made it!!" Am I surprised? NO... Relieved that your struggle is over though (that's from my prospective, perhaps you prefer it). Sad that my "real" reality program is over. Happy that you accomplished what you set out to do. Happy that you shared so freely with your tag alongs and even let us have a dialog with you. Looking forward to your summary! Thank you, again, Howard, for allowing me into this riveting adventure! Rest. Sandy T.

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  39. Congratulations Howard - what an awesome achievement!! It has been fascinating following your adventure. Enjoy your rest, Richard

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  40. Howard, What an amazing accomplishment! You had us on quite an emotional rollercoaster especially early on when your poles snapped and you were battling the cold in your non working arm. I was expecting pole problems throughout but your good engjneering skills obviously came through. After that initial scare I felt confident that you had mastered your new lifestyle and only bad luck would keep you from achieving your goal. We are all proud of you and are looking forward to your visiting us. Enjoy the next few days at the bottom of the Earth - I am sure it will be a very special time, especially welcoming Ruth in. Lots of love R,B,J & J

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  41. GEFELICITEERD!!!!! Well done Howard. Good to know you made it in good health.

    Respect! Adrie

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  42. Howard,I have been waiting in anticipation and am posting this from knysna as I've only now been able to connect. A very special timne for you to savour your unique experience. How wonderful.I look forward to hearing about the meeting with Ruth and her team....glad you are there to welcome them. well done....peter and pat

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  43. Howard you did it! I think of our discussion at St James and know that the achievement is HUGE - on so many levels. Ruth will be so happy to see you, enjoy your time together, she is awesome too. Much love, Bev

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  44. Hi Howard,
    Well done ! Planning precise ..6 hours.Thanks for the honest thoughts.Interesting relationship with the sledge.Well done Howie,great adventure & achievement!Climbed Lions Head yesterday & thought about your tough situation for 36.You are in a special spot,mentally & physically..
    Look forward to catching up & just listening...let us know when its good to go with the Book!
    Cheers
    Pete
    PS-is the giraffe with you?Am sure you have a pick.

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  45. Howie,
    Will you send us a blog on daily thoughts while you wait for Ruth, & the kite trip back if that does take place?Am sure another interesting adventure.
    What's its like out of prison with no guard?Have you found the master/skeleton key for a period of time?
    Love to Ruth & enjoy the experience.
    Cheers
    Pete

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  46. Congrats from your BJHS ESL South Pole Followers! What a trip and a time to reflect. You have given my students much to think about, much to be amazed at and much to keep them aware of the just how big the world is...and so small at the same time. Talk to you soon when we are all back at school. WOW!
    Susan

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  47. Congrats Howard. Proud of you and for making our Christmas time so exciting! See you soon we hope. Graham, Siun and Ben

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  48. Absolutely incredible boet! Following your posts has made me feel like I've been 'on the ice' with you at times. It must have been unlike anything else hey. It's also got me thinking about the comfortable little 'bubbles' we've enigneered all around us and gotten all too familiar with... what we really need, is to engineer adventures with uncertain outcomes! I'm jeaulous! But it's a good thing. Keep stirring up that jealousy in us and some will some time have the balls to give it a bash, and never be the same again, I'm sure! Hope you don't miss the simplicity too much man! Good luck with the re-adjustment ;)

    Blessings boet!

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  49. Congrats Howard! Your blog is very interesting and I'm glad you made it to the pole in one piece. Safe journey home. I look forward to reading about it.

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  50. Well done Howard!!! My stress is over now that you have arrived safely. What an incredible achievement. Thank the Lord for keeping you safe.

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  51. Amelia and Dan DarleyDecember 30, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Congratulations!! That's great! Hopefully by now you have had a good rest, some more real food (and maybe even a shower...) and a catch up with Ruth. Well done to both of you. We are in Chamonix now, catching up with David, and we toasted your achievement over some very refreshing beers last night. We'll look forward to doing the same in person at some point soon. All the best for a safe journey home.

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