Awaiting a Plane Home
Since the 29th they had been in camp at the pole, decorated with national banners and prayer flags from their Everest climb. There they were enduring whiteout conditions and awaiting a break in the weather that would allow for an airplane pickup and a welcome end to a successful expedition. The pickup could not come too soon, as conditions at the pole are less than comfortable.
"It's still whiteout conditions, very dense clouds so there has been no chance for a pickup," said Tina via the satellite phone prior to the airlift. "We're pretty much out of food. We're having our last dinner tonight, which is half-ration, and then we have a few puddings. If they can't reach us they will have to try to drop some food through the clouds, but the worry is that with no visibility the GPS might not be exact enough for us to find what they drop."
The explorers had been in contact with First Air every third hour, and reported that the pilots have been great. "They've been not sleeping, and just staying ready for an opportunity to get us," said Tina. The airplane made about a six-hour flight from Eureka weather station on the west coast of Ellesmere Island. The Sjogrens located a suitable airstrip and moved their camp there to await the welcome sounds of aerial transportation.
New Yorkers Remember 9/11 on the Roof of the World
During their trek across the last degree of latitude to the pole, the Sjogrens, who are New Yorkers, unveiled a special symbola ragged American flag from September 11. "We live down in SoHo, and a friend and training partner found this tattered flag on the street on 9/11," Tina explained. "He gave us the flag when we were leaving New York, and we decided to bring it with us to the poles. We raised it down in Antarctica in the purest snow, in one of the purest places on Earth, and now we've raised it at the North Pole. It means a lot to us, and it's a small thing we could do in this situation."
Now that the long skiing slog is over, the pair has had a bit of time to reflect. "It's been grueling," they reported. "We've lost so much weight, we've been telling each other how great we look, how slender and fit we look. Then when we reached the pole and set up the last camp we looked at each other and said, 'we really look kind of horrible.' So we're ready to enjoy some rest and some great food."
While some well-deserved relaxation is in the Sjogrens' immediate future, other challenges surely lie ahead.
"Life is so short and there is so much to do," Tina explained. "People ask, 'what else could you do?' But there's almost too much." Trackless deserts and remote oceans may beckon, but for now it appears that the Sjogrens have their eyes set upon the most distant adventure of alla trip to space.
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