Day 6: Dr. Ross learns how to live in Antarctica

Camping on glacier in Antarctica has its special challenges

Update: Getting closer to the South Pole, the last degree

We sat around waiting at Union Glacier, Antarctica, at 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. At 5 p.m. they came in to tell us that the flight was a go.

We packed up our stuff, got our sleds organized and made our way to the most incredible plane. It was a Basler DC-3 that was made in 1944 for the Royal Canadian Air Force. There was a plaque in the cockpit that showed its lineage. It was originally designed as a military plane for cargo and parachuting and it’s been refurbished. It is in impeccable condition and it is stunning, with all Canadian crew.

The crew comes from Alberta, it takes them almost a week to come all the way down to the Antarctic. They fly down at the beginning of season and then fly back at the end of the expedition season. It’s the same as the Twin Otter plane. They now have two planes, the DC-3 and Twin Otter.

The plane has wheels and sleds and landed on snow at 88°58'7" South, meaning we actually have to travel a little more than the last degree to get to the South Pole, which I think all of us are just fine with.

It was -25 degrees Celsius when we landed. We ended up skiing straight out of the plane and got into camp. Then it was just organizing the gear and putting up the tent.

Ablutions are challenging for me, the only girl on this trip. The environment is flat and you can see for 10 miles. I have to say that everyone at camp is very familiar with my behind. Not much I can do about that!

In any case, we’re all doing well. Everybody’s in good spirits and we’re about to start the last degree tomorrow.

Previous: Cold fog's rolling in on the horizon, which has done two things: dropped the temperature and put our flight, bringing us closer to the South Pole, today into potential jeopardy.

Sleeping is a challenge during a brilliant, bright night on Union Glacier, 864 metres above sea level in Antarctica. Even if you use all the devices to cover your eyes, you still feel like you’re trying to sleep staring at the sun — it's so weird. A Twin-Otter plane also landed at midnight, but despite all of this, everyone got some sleep.

[ Related: See Test Your Limits team's journey to the South Pole from Day 1 ]

At glacier camp, we had eggs, ham, pancakes and fruit for breakfast.

A well-stocked Antarctic kitchen at Union Glacier.

Today was a day of organization. We practiced packing the sled, ski bindings and poles with funny little covers that reduce hand frostbite.

Then we went skiing back towards the airstrip. We stopped and set up a group tent, which we’ll use to eat if the world is reasonable.

Union Glacier, the busiest airport in Antarctica.

Then we practiced with all the different stoves – WhisperLite and a good old-fashioned Boy Scouts' Coleman two-burner (Dad, I think they took yours).

If all is well, we hope to be leaving at around 5 p.m. our time for a four or five-hour flight to the last degree. We still don’t know yet whether it will happen. It is completely dependent on weather. If everything goes well, the next blog will be from the last degree.

Wish us luck.

Dr. Heather Ross is travelling to the South Pole to raise awareness for heart disease.
Follow her Journey to the Bottom of the Earth exclusively on Yahoo! Canada.

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About Dr. Ross

One of Toronto’s top cardiologists is heading to the South Pole, and Yahoo Canada News is following every step of the voyage.


Dr. Heather Ross, Director of the Heart Failure Program at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and the Medical Director of the Cardiac Transplant Program, is venturing to the pole to raise awareness for heart failure research, cardiac transplantation and heart health.


Follow along starting Jan. 1 as Dr. Ross blogs her journey to the bottom of the Earth.


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Got a question for Dr. Heather Ross while she's on her South Pole journey? Send her a question by clicking above or emailing AskDrRoss@yahoo.ca and she'll reply in a future blog post!