Curtis Lieber's Adventure Vacation Continued.
When we start back toward the Pole it's 4 pm January 6th. The vehicles
are not heated in the back where we ride, and in fact icicles from the
humidity of our breath hang from the frozen ceiling and snow is falling
inside the vehicles. You can't touch the metal of the vehicle with your
bare hand without loosing your skin in the process. In one five mile stretch
we rise 800 feet in altitude. We are now at 7,000 feet above sea level.
We are now reaching a steady temperature of -38 degrees Fahrenheit at this
We begin to smell the exhaust of the diesel engine. It takes us
several hours to realize that the altitude is causing the fuel mixture
to improperly burn. In fact inside the vehicle cabins, the smell is becoming
alarmingly strong. This would generally be just unpleasant, but the fuel
is mixed with Benzene to prevent it from freezing, and this is a carcinogen!
We are trapped, no where to go, no other alternative but to accept this
for the next several hundred hours! We have our first breakdown since leaving
middle camp, and it's another gear box. We've been going 5 mph since
camp to save the gear boxes. Each vehicle has four gear boxes to drive
four independent wheels. The two front wheels used only for steering. Now
we begin to go to two-wheel drive, and salvage extra gear boxes this way
at the cost of decreased traction. After nearly another day in the vehicles
we pitch up the tents again for rest. We are at 88* 40 South Latitude.
It's 10 am January 7th.
After about 5 hours sleep we're off again, but this journey we will
go till we arrive at the South Pole. We are moving only 5 mph and encounter
powdered snow several inches over the packed snow. The wind drops and the
sun begins to peek out of the sky with clouds racing by.
18 miles out of Amundsen-Scott base and the South Pole, we stop to see
that just over the horizon sparkles the dome. God we've made it at last.
The wind drops to calm and the sun bursts out and we pick up speed as we
are attracted to the dome like bugs to a flame. Spirits pick up and we
come alive. We arrive at the South Pole January 8th at 2 am Chile Time
or 10 pm New Zealand time which is what the Base goes by.
One mile out, we are met by Joe Marty, on snowmobile from the National
Science Foundation, who directs our way onto the base. We are welcomed
onto to Amundsen-Scott Base with most of the workers standing outside to
welcome us. Everyone at the base by this time has heard of our expedition
and the fact that we were coming. It is the first predominantly Russian
Expedition ever. There are only two Americans, Bob Christensen and Curtis
Lieber. Bob Christ the organizer of this entire expedition unselfishly
is not present to celebrate this victory. Naturally the folks at the base
ask thousands of questions to the Americans about the Russian Expedition
and the Snow Buggies.
Copyright by Curtis Lieber,
Photo by Curtis Lieber.