Stopover at the Pole fo Inaccessibility

Published on 10.01.2008 - Norwegian-US Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica

Everything is going incredibly smoothly for this joint US-Norwegian scientific expedition. The convoy continues to advance at a speed not far off a hundred kilometres a day. Along the way, they stopped at the famous Pole of Inaccessibility.

The expedition has now progressed without much problem to 82°06585 S / 54°8892 E, i.e. the Pole of Inaccessibility, which is probably the most out-of-the-way and least visited place on the planet.

In his daily report, Jan Gunnar explained a very interesting point. It should be remembered first and foremost that the Pole of Inaccessibility is one of the highest locations in Antarctica, at an altitude of 3 730 metres above sea level. This is what the expedition leader wrote: "Because of the rotation of Earth, the atmosphere is thinner near the poles than near the Equator and middle latitudes. This thinner atmosphere means high latitudes also have lower atmospheric pressure and significantly less oxygen than at the same elevation at lower latitudes. For example, we are now at 3700 meters (above sea level, and this corresponds to more than 4400 meters (14,400 feet) in other areas of the world. Today we calculated the amount of oxygen we have to be about 53 % of that at sea level. It is like breathing with one lung, and feels that way too! We breathe like walruses after short walks, and gasp desperately for air when we are doing hard physical work! We have been at this elevation for weeks now, and still have not fully acclimatized!"

The expedition halted for 4 days at the Pole of Inaccessibility, making it the third extended stop for scientific purposes since they set out from Troll on 16th November 2007. There was enough time to conduct a deep drill down to a depth of 90 metres (the fourth since the beginning of their trip), as well as take a number of scientific readings and set up a weather station.

The convoy resumed its route towards the South Pole on 5th January and is currently descending to more comfortable altitudes. On 6th January, they found a single ski pole (just one!) sticking out of the snow right in the middle of their path, which immediately made them think of the proverb about finding a needle in a haystack. Even so, to come across a ski pole in a location where no explorer had ever ventured previously started their collective imaginations racing. The scientists took the trouble to examine the object more closely: the ski pole was made in Italy and had a Norwegian label. They haven't exactly launched a competition on the web, but they might as well have done: in view of the sparse details known about the pole, who could the owner possibly have been?

Position of the convoy on 9th January: 84°42978 S / 53°56043 E.

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