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Pole to Pole

Day 141: To the South Pole

Michael Palin - Pole to Pole12.30 a.m. Over the noise of the engine Dan shouts back that we are forty-seven minutes from the Pole.

1.00 a.m. Radio communication from air traffic control at the South Pole base.

'There is no designated runway and the US government cannot authorize you to land. How do you copy?'

Dan: 'OK.'

'OK. Have a good landing.'

Scott gives Rudy a shot of oxygen. The effects of the height can now be clearly felt. Shortage of breath, every movement requiring twice the effort.

1.10 a.m. We can see the South Pole ahead. It is somewhere in the middle of a complex of buildings dominated by a 150-foot-wide geodesic dome. Vehicles and building materials are scattered about the site. It is the busiest place we've seen in Antarctica.

1.20 a.m. We land at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, scudding to a halt on a wide, cleared snow runway.

Two well-wrapped figures from the base wait for us to emerge from the plane, and shake our hands in welcome, but the senior of them, an American called Gary, advises us that it is not the policy of the National Science Foundation, who run the base, to offer assistance of a material kind to NGAs - Non-Government Agencies - such as ourselves. Scott confirms that our expedition is self-sufficient and that Adventure Network has a cache of fuel and accommodation located near by.

Gary, having officially informed us that we are not welcome, brightens up considerably and invites us in for a coffee.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 141
  • Country/sea: Antarctica
  • Place: South Pole
  • Book page no: 317

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