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1958: Explorers meet at South Pole

Members of the team attempting the first surface crossing of the Antarctic have joined up at the South Pole.

New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary - who has already conquered Mount Everest - arrived with his team 17 days ago.

Early this afternoon Sir Edmund welcomed the British team led by Dr Vivian "Bunny" Fuchs to the South Pole.

The British and New Zealand teams are members of a joint Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic expedition but set off from opposite ends of the continent last November.

The New Zealanders started out from the newly-created Scott camp near the Ross Sea while the British began their journey at Shackleton camp near the Weddell Sea.

Both teams used motorised vehicles for the trip to the South Pole.

En route, Sir Edmund and his team were responsible for setting up food and fuel depots for the British team.

They will now attempt to reach Scott Base and complete the 2158-mile (3473-kilometre) Antarctic crossing.

Worsening weather

However, the British team's departure from Shackleton camp was delayed and they are now running almost three weeks behind schedule.

They must now decide when to start the second leg of the journey given the worsening weather conditions.

Dr Fuchs said the team would definitely go on.

"We hope and expect to get out before the winter, if not - bad luck,'" he said.

Asked whether he had considered breaking his journey and continuing in the spring Dr Fuchs replied: "Are the people who suggested that prepared to pay for it?"

He thought it likely the team would reach Scott camp in the first week of March, Dr Fuchs added.

Expedition members are also carrying out scientific experiments including seismic soundings and gravimetric readings during their epic journey.

In Context
Vivian Fuchs and his team, accompanied by Sir Edmund Hillary, went on to complete the first surface crossing of the Antarctic.

They reached Scott camp on 2 March 1958 after a journey of 99 days and more than 2,000 miles across the Antarctic.

Dr Fuchs' achievement was rewarded by an immediate knighthood and he returned home to Britain as Sir Vivian.

Sir Vivian and Sir Edmund wrote a book about the trip, The Crossing of Antarctica.

Sir Vivian was director of the British Antarctic Survey until his retirement in 1973.

He died in November 1999 aged 91.


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