Explorers Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen reached the South Pole Tuesday, pulling into Amudsen Scott station at 4 a.m. New Zealand time. They're behind schedule and craving real meals, but in good spirits, according to dispatches to the expedition's headquarters in Minneapolis.
The women, who originally hoped to spend the holidays at the Pole and take some needed rest, are resupplying food and fuel and making plans to quickly head back into the wilderness. Next stop: McMurdo station, 1,053 miles in the distance.
Bancroft and Arnesen are attempting to become the first women in history to traverse Antarctica. The 1,200-mile trek to the Pole from Cape Town, South Africa, took 63 days — roughly two weeks longer than anticipated. The adventure so far has been a mix of windless days, marathon sails and hikes, bruised shoulders, damaged equipment, crevasses and whiteouts.
"This section of our journey has been a lot harder than we imagined," Bancroft reported via satellite phone.
Rationing food and fuel, they survived the last few days on chocolate and granola. They sailed their 250-pound sleds 77 miles in 14 hours to reach the Pole.
If the journey ahead goes as planned, it will consist of sailing more and pulling less: The bottom half of the continent typically has more wind. So far, however, the weather has been anything but typical, with windless days dominating the terrain that in the past has seen gusts of 100 mph.
The explorers plan on reaching their destination sometime in the middle of February, when a boat will pick them up from McMurdo and transport them to Christchurch, New Zealand.