Day 141 - to the South Pole

The temperature, with wind chill, is a cutting, almost paralysing minus 50 centigrade, and it's 3.15 in the morning at 10,000 feet when I set out on the final lap of this extraordinary journey.

A few hundred yards from the dome, out on the snow, is a semi-circle of flags of all the nations working in Antarctica, in the middle of which is a reflecting globe on a plinth. This is the 'Ceremonial South Pole' at which visiting dignitaries are pictured.

Crunching slowly past it, numb-faced and short of breath, I come at last to a small bronze post sticking three feet above the ground. It looks like an unplumbed lavatory outlet but it exactly marks 90 degrees South. From this spot all directions point north. At this spot I can walk around the world in 8 seconds. At this point, with one bound, I am back, on 30 degrees East... and 30 degrees West, and 72 degrees East and 23 degrees West. I am on the same longitude as Tokyo, Cairo, New York and Sheffield. I am standing at the South Pole.

In the distance I can see a group of anoraked figures pacing the snow, stopping occasionally, forming a circle pointing then striking at the earth with a shovel. They seem to be repeating this strange ritual over a wide area.

Eventually Clem and Nigel and Fraser and Rudy give up looking for the tent and we all stand together at the bottom of the world. Or the top. It depends which way you look at it.

South PoleSouth Pole  


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