PolarExplorers South Pole Last Degree

Join us on an unforgettable adventure steeped in austere and remote beauty as we ski the last degree to the South Pole, our most popular Antarctic expedition. Unlike North Pole expeditions, you will traverse terra firma all the way to the South Pole, so to speak. Roughly two miles of ice separates your skis from firm ground (as opposed to the Arctic Icecap where between 0 and about 5 meters of ice floats atop the Arctic Ocean). Despite the immense ice thickness, the skiing surface is very flat. So the physical challenge is one of endurance rather than technical skiing skill.

Expect driving winds and frigid temperatures. Sled weights range between 30 and 50 kilos, and, as with all PolarExplorers expeditions, you'll be involved with almost every aspect of the journey from pitching camp, to cooking meals and, if you choose, trying your hand at polar navigation. We will work our way to the Pole as a team, and celebrate as a team upon our arrival at 90 degrees south!

PolarExplorers does not require prior expedition experience from prospective team members, but will assist your expedition preparation to ensure that you obtain the appropriate gear, level of fitness and necessary skills to thrive on the wildest continent. Our Polar Shakedown Training is an ideal way to test gear and acquire expedition skills. Contact us for more information.

 

  • Itinerary
  • Equipment List
  • Qualifications
  • Dates & Rates
  • Trip Insurance
  • Testimonials
  • Blogs

South Pole Last Degree Ski Daily Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. Transfer to your hotel. Unpack and relax before welcome reception.
Day 2
We'll spend the day in Punta Arenas readying our kits and preparing for the flight to Antarctica.
Day 3
Weather permitting, we'll board a charter flight to Antarctica and the Union Glacier basecamp. Tour of Union Glacier basecamp, and time to set up camp
Day 4
A day in Union Glacier basecamp acclimatizing and getting ready for the expedition.
Day 5
Weather permitting, we'll fly to 88 or 89 degrees South for the beginning of our expedition. If we are unable to fly we will use the time at Union Glacier basecamp to train, ready our systems and acclimatize to Antarctica. A mess tent for expeditions and beautiful surroundings make Union Glacier basecamp a comfortable place to spend time.
Day 6-13
Ski towards the South Pole! Days will be spent skiing across the Polar Plateau, taking occasional breaks to stay hydrated and well fed. Evenings will find us relaxing in our tents and feasting on well-earned meals. These dates are approximate, as everything (including flights and our progress skiing) depends on a variety of factors including weather conditions and group capabilities.
Day 13
Arrive at the South Pole! We'll visit the ceremonial and geographic South Pole markers and take dozens of photographs to document our success. Use our sat phone to make the prized call home from the bottom of the world. We'll camp near the South Pole and await our return flight to Union Glacier basecamp. Time permitting, we may have an opportunity to tour the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station.
Day 14
Weather permitting, we'll depart for the return flight to Union Glacier basecamp.
Day 15
Weather permitting, we'll depart for the return flight to Punta Arenas. A final celebratory dinner in Punta Arenas marks the end of this incredible adventure!

This itinerary is highly dependent on a number of factors and is subject to change. Contact us for a more detailed itinerary!

South Pole Last Degree Ski: Equipment List

Upon registration, you will receive a PolarExplorers comprehensive gear guide that explains the importance of each item as well as gear recommendations from our past participants.

  • 1 pair skis and ski poles (supplied by PolarExplorers)
  • 1 pair skins (supplied by PolarExplorers)
  • 1 pair snow pack ski boots
  • Sleeping bag rated to at least -35° Celsius
  • Bivy sack
  • 2 sleeping pads
  • 1 wind anorak with hood (fur ruff recommended)
  • 1 wind pants
  • 1 insulated parka with hood
  • 1 warm fleece jacket and pants
  • 2 sets synthetic underwear, medium weight top and bottom- 2nd set optional
  • 1 overmitt system
  • 2 pair liner or wool working gloves
  • 2 hats: 1 lightweight balaclava, 1 ski type
  • 2 neck gaiters
  • 3 pair socks and sock liners
  • 1 face mask
  • Sun glasses and/ or mountain ski glasses
  • 2 pr. anti-fog goggles
  • 1 sturdy small backpack with waist belt and sternum strap
  • 2 Thermos bottles or insulated water bottles
  • 1 set eating utensils with bowl
  • Pocket knife / multi-tool
  • Personal toiletries
  • 1 pee bottle (small plastic bottle)
  • Face cream, lip protection
  • 4 carabiners
  • Luggage locks

South Pole Last Degree Ski Qualifications

This expedition is for people who are in good shape, and who are eager to push themselves physically and mentally. Though the skiing is quite demanding, it does not require significant skill (it is similar to walking with skis on).

You will need to have very good cardiovascular endurance and the ability to pull a heavy sled (between 30-40 kilos) for several hours at a time, with only short pauses, day after day. Towards the end of the day when we stop skiing, it is critical that you have the energy reserves to set up camp and help out with the basic necessities of camp life including making water, cooking, etc. Most importantly you need to be able to regulate your body temperature so that you do not get too cold, or too hot while you are on the move.

This expedition will encounter extremely cold conditions, and living in such cold conditions 24 hours a day can be very challenging. This expedition demands that you stay well-fed and hydrated. You need to be proactive about keeping yourself healthy and free of injury. An evacuation from this expedition is very costly and logistically difficult.

You do not have to be a world class athlete to participate in and enjoy this expedition, but every ounce of training and preparation will help to make the expedition more enjoyable and safer. Check out the PolarExplorers Shakedown training options here. Please contact us with further questions about this incredible polar expedition here.

South Pole Last Degree Ski Dates & Rates

2016-2017 Dates

December 31, 2016 - January 14, 2017

(reserve dates available)

Price

Please contact us for pricing

Inclusions

Includes all accommodations and meals while in Antarctica, guide(s), permits, communication & safety gear.

Expedition Trip Insurance

Trip cancellation insurance is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for every PolarExplorers expedition.

Medical Evacuation insurance with a minimum coverage of $300,000 USD is REQUIRED on every PolarExplorers expedition.

Ensure that your policy covers your activity, destination and any pre-existing medical conditions (to cover pre-existing medical conditions you may need to purchase your policy within 14 days or less of your initial deposit).

If you are mountaineering check that the policy covers roped technical mountain travel and the elevation limit that you will have.

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Ripcord Insurance (For non-US residents use the Offer Code "ripcordintl" which will enable you to receive quotes and/or purchase policies.) If your expedition is more than USD $30,000 you may need to send an email to: ClientServices@redpointresolutions.com or call them at +1 617-307-4636

If you live in the USA you have additional options. 

Travelex Insurance - Choose the TRAVEL SELECT policy and add the ADVENTURE PLUS PAK to receive appropriate medical evacuation coverage.

Travel Guard has comprehensive policies that include trip cancellation or you can purchase a Single Trip Medical Evacuation Important! You must include the optional Adventure Sports coverage upgrade if you are climbing any mountains or traveling in rope teams. (Pre-existing medical coverage is not available with this policy.)

South Pole Last Degree Ski Testimonials

Laurie GoldsmithOur guide did a great job in all areas. His very positive attitude, keeping us working as a team, and finding ways to make every aspect of every detail work effeciently stands out the most. My overall impression of the expedition was absolutely fantastic.Words can't really explain... from the extremely well run and organized expedition to the feeling of accomplishment in skiing that distance to the Pole, it is a wonderful impression that will stay with me forever

Laurie Goldsmith

Ian ClarkeI love the PolarExplorers ethos. Over the last four years my two expeditions with the team have been two of the highlights of my life.

Ian Clarke

 

Wendy BrookerThe trip to the South Pole was wonderful.  I have never been with a better team - we laughed all the way to pole and back and then some.  It was a great trip and Keith is a great guide.

Wendy Booker

  • Until next time Antarctica

    This morning, a Twin Otter was finally able to fly into Vinson Base Camp to gather the team off the Branscomb Glacier. A short 40 min later they were back in Union Glacier, awaiting the Ilyushin 76 which touched down on the Blue Ice Runway around noon. 

    We just heard from the team that they had safely landed Punta Arenas where a hot showers and soft beds await. Tomorrow morning, with much regret, the team will dissolve as people catch flights back home.

    Thank you to everyone who followed along and engaged with us on social media, and thanks to all of the staff, guides, and team members that have made this expedition such an incredible success!

    Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see more photos of this and other expeditions, and also to receive news on upcoming expeditions! It's never too early to join the PolarExplorers Team.

     

     

     

    Written on Friday, 20 January 2017 22:06 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Low visibility = plenty of time for cards

    The Vinson team thought they were good to go. The call came in that their pick up plane was on its way so they took down their tents and packed up. Then came the sound of the plane overhead. VROOOOM!

    Written on Thursday, 19 January 2017 20:04 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Back at Vinson basecamp - mission accomplished!

    After a day of descending from high camp the team has returned to Vinson basecamp, their temporary home away from home. It brings a sense of closure to this awesome expedition, but that doesn't mean that it is over!

    Written on Thursday, 19 January 2017 04:49 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Success! The summit on a beautiful day!

    We are excited to share that the South Pole / Vinson combo team reached the summit of Vinson today around 3:30 PM local time. Wohoo! Everyone was thrilled to be standing on the roof of Antarctica.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 January 2017 03:46 in South Pole & Emperor Penguins
  • Relaxing day at high camp

    If there's anything better than having a deep sleep inside a tent (with no wake up call!), it might be getting served pancakes and eggs with syrup and jam. That was the morning routine today for our group of climber's at Vinson high camp.

    Written on Monday, 16 January 2017 16:59 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Climbers at high camp

    This is a quick update to let everyone know that the Vinson team made it to high camp. They are all doing well despite being knackered after a long day. They departed low camp around 2 PM and spent around 9 hours on the go, ascending roughly 3,350 ft / 1020m of elevation gain on slopes as steep as 45 degrees. They had a delicious dinner cooked up by Keith and Garrett and they are hitting the sac happy to be one step closer to the summit. Tomorrow they will take a rest day and hopefully (weather permitting) enjoy the outstanding views that high camp has to offer. 

    Keith on the ascent to high camp

    Written on Sunday, 15 January 2017 00:00 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • All fights are "GO", climbers at Vinson low camp

    Great news! The weather at Union Glacier and Vinson basecamp cleared enough for both our flights today. This means that both teams are on schedule with the South Pole team back at Punta Arenas and the Vinson team on the mountain. Antarctica has very fickle weather and when things are running on schedule it's a good reason to be thankful - and we are!

    Written on Saturday, 14 January 2017 00:00 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Union Glacier, home away from home

    Both teams are now back at Union Glacier and enjoying the amenities of a well run basecamp. There is excellent food, hot showers, lectures and fresh faces to smile at and people to meet. 

    Written on Friday, 13 January 2017 00:00 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Back to UG for one team, another night at the Pole for the other

    After a very celebratory night with many cheers and toasts, everyone finally got some shut-eye though several people would have like more!

    Written on Thursday, 12 January 2017 00:00 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • The Pole at last!

    We are very proud and excited to announce that both teams reached the Geographic South Pole today at 16:15 local time! Wooo hooo!

    Both teams slept in for a lazy morning and broke camp around 11 AM. For the first few marches they could see each other and by the last push before the station boundaries they were together. From there they phoned in their position to the base camp manager, Hannah, who warmly greeted them and told them to "come right on in." As they approached the Pole the many miles of tugging a sled over the vast Antarctic plateau melted away and all that was before them was the red and white striped Pole that marks 90 degrees South. Well, almost 90 degrees South. Most people don't know that there are two "poles" at the South Pole. There is the Ceremonial South Pole with the red and white stripes and reflective globe, surrounded by flags. This is the Pole that is most often photographed. There is also the actual US Geological Survey marker that denotes exactly 90 degrees South. This "Pole" is around 10 meters from the Ceremonial Pole. Don't worry, they'll have plenty of time at each pole before they leave!

    After many hugs, high fives, photos and phone calls home the teams, who had put in a long day by now, retreated to the temporary basecamp for visiting explorers. When we talked with them the camp manager, Hannah, who is an old friend to many of us, was preparing them a hearty dinner. This will be a celebratory dinner. Not only did they reach the South Pole, but they can relax and enjoy themselves without having to get up bright and early to ski tomorrow! We heard a rumor that Michael pulled out his very coveted Shackleton Whiskey, which everyone is drooling over. We also heard that Graeme had carried with him a very special medal that the monarch of Italy presented to Ernest Shackleton! So it is not a far stretch to say that The Boss himself is with them tonight.

    They have planned a station tour at 9 AM Chile time tomorrow morning. That's the middle of the night NZ time. This is intentional timing to reduce the impact of our 15 person strong team on the people who live and work at the station. Then they'll return to the Pole for a photo session when they expect to have more favorable lighting. In the later afternoon if all goes as planned they will fly back to the Union Glacier Basecamp.

    We have a wonderful audio dispatch from the dinner tent that captures the mood of the evening and we hope to post more photos of their day soon. So check back again!

    Written on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 21:56 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • So close, South Pole station in sight!

    It was another cold day for our teams. The windchill forecast was for -40 C/F but the wind didn't pick up as much as expected. Still it was bitterly cold.

    Written on Tuesday, 10 January 2017 00:00 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Getting close!

    It was a cold day up on the polar plateau. Colder than any other day so far (around -24 C / -13 F) and there was enough wind to make everyone feel the bite (around 6 kt). This made managing hands and faces harder than previous days but everyone did well and survived the day with all parts intact.  

    Written on Monday, 09 January 2017 22:56 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Half way there!

    Today the teams report that they had nice conditions with colder temps (around -23 C) with a 3-5 kt wind coming from the NE. In case you are wondering what direction that is if you are skiing to the South Pole it is hitting them in their left butt cheek and the backside of their left shoulder.

    Written on Monday, 09 January 2017 03:51 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • Antarctica at it's calmest

    Antarctica can be the harshest place on Earth but not today. Today it was amazingly beautiful. It was sunny, warm (-15 c), and utterly calm. Not a breath of wind. Most of the team were peeling off layers until they were only in base layers with no anorak. A good dose of sunscreen or the thinnest face covering protected their skin.

    Written on Sunday, 08 January 2017 01:37 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs
  • A beautiful day on the polar plateau

    Today was a beautiful day. The weather remained clear with a few scattered clouds and the wind diminished, first to light and variable and then to almost calm. The temperature remained around -20 C /-5F Here are the updates from the two teams:

    Written on Saturday, 07 January 2017 00:14 in 2017 South Pole and Mount Vinson Blogs

 

 


Email Us
Phone 1.847.256.4409
Toll-Free USA/CAN. 800.732.7328


Email Us
Phone 1.847.256.4409
Toll-Free USA/CAN. 800.732.7328

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