Day 7: Adjusting to the air and cold at the bottom of the Earth

Dr. Ross and the Test Your Limits team begins feeling the effects of 'thin' air, and get a special surprise.

Coordinates: S 89 degrees O3.871 by W 83 degrees 20.446

We woke up this morning and all of us were feeling the acute effects of the significant altitude. Even though we’re not as high as you might think of when climbing other areas or being in other areas of altitude, because the air at the pole is thin/stretched, it behaves much higher.

It’s safe to say everyone feels like we’ve been hit between the eyes with a sledgehammer. Almost

everyone at camp had a headache and some of us also had nausea and vomiting.  It made for a challenging day but we got going. We were able to accomplish about five miles today over five hours. The weather was not ideal; it was -25 degrees Celsius and the wind was coming in steadily from the north-east.

It was very overcast and at times we could not actually discern where land ended and clouds began and it made for a very vertiginous feeling. Nonetheless, we pulled into camp around 3 p.m. this afternoon and set camp up. Everyone was a little shattered after the day. 

The guides had a special surprise for us. They built a group tent and we actually had cheeseburgers – I think the only way to think about it is cheeseburgers in paradise. We had a long and wonderful talk in the group tent over cheeseburgers, fries, potato chips, and chocolate.

We’re getting ready to head to bed. Tomorrow we’ll try to do a little bit further but know that we have lots of time to get the pole and to make sure that everyone goes at a speed that will help them acclimatize. 

I did hand around the oxygen probe at dinner and everyone’s oxygen saturation is fine.

On a final note, a big shout out to Sandra. It is Diego and Sandra’s 11th anniversary today. Happy anniversary!

Take care everybody.

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.

Find out more


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