When the phone rang in CBC’s Whitehorse newsroom yesterday afternoon, Weekender host Mardy Derby picked it up to find a well known Yukoner on the other end.
“We just arrived at the South Pole about two hours ago,” said Devon Mcdiarmid, calling from a satellite phone. (Click the link on the left to hear the full interview.)
Mcdiarmid arrived after skiing about 1,000 km over 42 days, and he faced a few challenges.
“We ran into some unusually large sastrugi,” he says, referring to the sharp ridges that form on the Antarctic snow. “Actually, in hindsight, it was kinda fun, but at the time it was a real pain.”
Mcdiarmid says they also had a few medical issues, but in the end, everyone was fine and healthy.
“We had amazing weather so that was a high, quite different than previous years.”
Temperatures on the trip ranged from a balmy -7, to blizzard temperatures around -50.
It was the fifth time at the South Pole for the Whitehorse resident, who holds a Guinness World Record for longest Arctic unsupported snow-kiting expedition after kite-skiing the Greenland ice cap in 2009.
This time, Mcdiarmid was leading two clients — an American woman and an Australian man.
Asked what motivates people to make the trek, Mcdiarmid said he has no idea. “They’ve all got their own reasons… No one takes it lightly, that’s for sure.”
From the South Pole, the three skiers flew to their base camp, Union Glacier, a private camp run by Adventure Network International.
Mcdiarmid posted a message on his Facebook page around 9 a.m. MT: “Had a great evening at the Pole. Woke to poor weather so we are on standby till we can fly. Happily comfortable at our ANI camp.”
When the weather clears, the three skiers will take a four-and-a-half-hour flight to Punta Arenas, Chile, on board a Russian Ilyushin jet, then home.
And after that? “Lots of ideas but nothing too concrete at the moment,” Mcdiarmid says.
“I love it down in the Antarctic so I expect I’ll be returning here.”