South Pole Half Degree Ski Expedition

Do you want to have the experience of skiing to the South Pole without having to ski the last degree? Our Half Degree ski expedition offers a great alternative. While it's half the distance of our last degree ski expedition you'll spend the same amount of time on the continent, with a few extra days to explore the vicinity of the Union Glacier Basecamp.

Expect to experience extreme cold temperatures, gusty wind, glorious blue-sky days and complete white-outs. You can get it all during this expedition. Ending at the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station you'll have the opportunity to visit the base and experience the ceremonial South Pole as well as the Geographic South Pole (only a few meters away from each other). If the Station schedule permits we will take a tour of the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station and experience what life is like for the scientists and support staff that call this southern-most outpost in the world "Home".

 

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

South Pole Half Degree Ski Expedition Daily Itinerary

Day 1-2
Arrive in Punta Arenas. Gear check and pre-flight briefing.
Day 3
Weather permitting we'll fly to Antarctica.
Day 4
Spend the day at Union Glacier basecamp.
Day 5-6
Weather permitting, we'll fly to S 89. 30' and get dropped off. Depending on the time we may opt to ski a couple of miles, but we will take it easy to allow for acclimatization.
Day 7-11
Ski to the South Pole! Arrive at the South Pole. Photo session at the ceremonial South Pole and time to relax at the expedition base camp. We plan to tour the Amundsen Scott South Pole station pending scheduling of the station staff.
Day 12-14
Return to the Union Glacier Basecamp, followed by return to Punta Arenas, Chile.

South Pole 20K 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 insulated parka with hood (available to rent)
  • 1 pair insulated pants (available to rent)
  • 1 pair snow pack ski boots (available to rent)
  • 1 pair wool, silk, or synthetic long underwear tops and bottoms.
  • 2 pair heavy wool or synthetic socks
  • 1 wool or fleece sweater (mid weight)
  • 1 wool or fleece sweater (heavy weight)
  • 1 neck gaiter
  • 1 pair wool or synthetic gloves
  • 1 pair wool or fleece mittens
  • 1 pair sunglasses or snow goggles
  • Casual clothing for Punta Arenas (shirt, pants, socks, pajamas, underwear, etc.)
  • 1 pair slippers for inside the mess tent
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc.)
  • Personal medications (with prescription for customs!)

South Pole 20K Ski Expedition Qualifications

Our North and South Pole Flights are for people who want to experience the North & South Poles, but don't have the time, energy or funding to do a full expedition. People on these Flights have ranged in age from 1 to 81 years! All of these trips require that you can climb several stairs into and out of the plane as well as being able to walk across the uneven terrain of the ice. We can assist you as necessary.

The South Pole Flight requires you to sleep in a tent (with a very warm sleeping bag). To best enjoy this adventure you should be in moderate shape. Contact us if you have any questions or to register for this great trip of a lifetime here.

South Pole 20K Ski Expedition Dates & Rates

2016-2017 Dates

December 31, 2016 - January 14, 2017

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 20K Ski Testimonials

Tony ValukisA wonderful trip, with a truly extraordinary group of people . It was absolutely a delight traveling with our Dirk (our PE Guide) he couldn’t have been more helpful and encouraging.  He certainly knows how to fry polish sausage in butter.

Tony Valukis

Scott AndersonMy first glimpse of the Pole marker as we were approaching on our skis will stay with me forever. It's a place I'm unlikely to be again. Even if by some strange chance I find myself there again, to see it for the first time, and to have made it there myself on skis, it's a feeling I don't think I will ever duplicate.

Scott Anerson

  • Smooth descent despite lack of visibility in the afternoon

    The team called in from N 64° 08.243, W 016° 27.158.  They are hanging out in their tents, having just finished dinner and a poetry reading session (Robert Service always a favorite on all PolarExplorers expeditions!).  They are around 10 km from the edge of the glacier.  They had a fairly leisurely morning, starting on trail around 10 AM.   Overnight the winds were quite strong as had been forecast but they were comfortable in the protected campsite they had chosen with their wind walls. 

    In the morning, the weather was beautiful with bright sun but they could see the weather moving in over the mountains.  They passed some beautiful ice falls and saw some lenticular cloud patterns that were stunning (see photo below) Around mid-day the clouds moved in to fully envelope them, they had 20' visibility at times and the snow became soft and wet as they were going down some steep inclines.  They alternated between skis and boots.  They stayed roped together all day as they were in crevasse territory.  They could see some crevasses in the distance but fortunately did not have any close encounters.  The temperature was around 20° F in the morning, increasing throughout the day to above freezing.  They did find that they had to shed some layers in order avoid over-heating.

    They plan to get an early start in the morning and will get picked up around mid-day at the edge of the glacier.  All are looking forward to eating real food tomorrow!  They did express concern that the blog may be making this expedition sound too easy so be sure to listen to (or read the transcription) of Eric's audio update belowLaughing...

    Hello friends, family and followers.  This is Eric calling in from another day on the Vatnajokull Glacier here in Iceland.  It’s our second to last day actually.  We had a beautiful start to the day- bright and sunny as we started to descend down from the top of the glacier.  About halfway down, the clouds moved in and visibility went to almost nothing.  We traveled for about 7 hours, roped up the entire way, covering something like 15 kilometers, and now we are in our tents, and we're close enough to the road where we got a few bars of cell reception and were able to read the blog updates and heard how easy our expedition has been, but I just want to set the record straight.  This has been incredibly challenging and we have each saved each other's lives at least 5 times.  And it's been perhaps the hardest thing that all of us have ever done.  The weather has been trying, and this has just been an epic expedition all around.  So I know it sounds like we've been having fun, but it's really just been brutal and epic and challenging.  And Annie says fun, but for me just epic and brutal and challenging.  So we'll be back in civilization tomorrow if all goes according to plan.  So we will touch base then and thanks for following along.

    Written on Sunday, 21 May 2017 21:12 in Expedition Updates
  • Another great day of travel and beautiful campsite

    The team just called in from N 64° 07.548, W 016° 40.767.  They woke up to a nice cool morning and had a fairly relaxed start, waking at 7 AM, then snoozing till 7:30.   They had a nice ski and traveled about 19 km.  At the last stop, they put on their harnesses and roped up as they were heading into crevasse territory.  They will remain roped up for the remainder of the expedition.

    They found a beautiful spot to camp, looking out across a glacial valley with mountains all around.  They had an outdoor kitchen and dinner again tonight.  There was rather a smorgasbord for dinner tonight with fried bread with butter and cheese and soups for appetizers, entrees ranged from spaghetti to pepper steak to chicken teriyaki.

    The forecast is for strong winds tonight but they should be in a protected area and built some good wind walls.  Rob built an absolutely spectacular loo for the night- truly a work of modern art per Annie.  Hoping they may send some pictures...

    All are in very good spirits, despite a few sunburned lips.  But that is the extent of the discomfort so all good!  They are looking forward to another good day tomorrow as they continue their descent.

    On the way down...

    Transcription of audio update for those following on mobile devices:

    Hello, this is Annie calling from Vatnajokull where we have a beautiful campsite tonight overlooking a glacial valley with spectacular views.  Everybody's doing really good. We are tired after a really nice day. Everybody else is in bed actually, enjoying the comfort of their sleeping bags. We had a nice outdoor kitchen again tonight where we had dinner looking out over the glacier and over the mountains. We covered some good mileage and the exciting thing is that we put on all of our glacial travel kit, our harnesses and used the ropes and we'll be using those, we’ll be roped up for the rest of the trip. We're looking forward to a good day tomorrow, and we will be reporting in tomorrow night, so I hope you're enjoying following our expedition, and we look forward to talking to you soon. Bye-bye.

     

    Written on Saturday, 20 May 2017 21:31 in Expedition Updates
  • "Super Fantastic" day on the trail!

    The team's current location is N 64° 14.737, W 016° 53.195.  They had great weather today with minimal wind in the morning, then calm the remainder of the day.  The temperature was around 20° F (by the way, yesterday's "below zero" temp was Celcius- it was around -10°C (14° F) whereas today was -6.7° C, 20° F).  A lot of the day was downhill with areas large enough to sled down on their sleds (a bit of team competition arose per Eric Rutherford's audio update below...).  They traveled 28 km in total.  They enjoyed their dinner outside and had a fabulous evening.  They reported clear skies with sunny views.  They are well rested and ready for tomorrow.

    Cozy in the hut

    Eric sitting in the outdoor kitchen

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    Eric Rutherford's audio update for those following on mobile devices:
    Hello, this is Eric Rutherford from the Polar Exploration Iceland Expedition.  May 19th about 8:30.  We left the Grimsfall Hut this morning around 9:45.  We had a super fantastic day.  This morning, I raced my friend Rob.  We got on the sleds and were laughing like little kids.  And then we had a beautiful day.  We drank a lot and couldn't ask for a better time.  May 19, 2017.  We did about 28 km.  Thank you

     

    Written on Friday, 19 May 2017 21:03 in Expedition Updates
  • The team enjoyed a well deserved R & R day in the hut
    The team enjoyed a well deserved rest day in the hut.  They reviewed crevasse rescue and glacier travel technique.  They ate a lot and swapped stories (with this group of explorers, there are of course many amazing stories!)  They thoroughly enjoyed the sauna.  It was a very restorative day which they so deserved after the first two. 
    The weather was very windy, 50 mph at times, and partly cloudy.  The temperatures were below freezing but with the wind it felt a lot colder.
    They will be back on the trail tomorrow and are all really looking forward to it.
     

     
    Due to the quality of satellite reception and John's marvelous New Zealand accent, we regret that we're not able to provide a quality transcription.  We encourage you to look at this blog update from a PC vs. mobile device and it will come through clearly.
    Written on Thursday, 18 May 2017 21:41 in Expedition Updates
  • The team is at the Grimsfall Hut!

    The team successfully reached the Grimsfall Hut today after 10 long hours of travel!  They started at 8:45 AM and arrived at 6:45 PM.  They traveled 28 km in a series of 6 pushes with 15 minute breaks in between each push.  Though a long day, they were on a mission to reach the hut.  Everyone is obviously very pumped and excited that they reached their goal!  (Click on today's blog title to see the full dispatch including audio update)

    Written on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 22:29 in Expedition Updates
  • Team is 17 km onto the Vatnajokull Glacier!
    The team just called in from location N 64° 21.364, W 17° 46.763.
     
    They reported that after a strong and wet storm last night, they started very early with an "Alpine start" at 3:30 AM. The plan was to spend the time while the glacier was still hard and compact to find a way across a glacier runoff river. After 5 hours of travel and only 4 km of distance, they were able to cross the running water without getting boots wet. They hit the glacier proper at 10:00 AM and spent the rest of the day covering 17 km. This was when the weather finally broke and they enjoyed a bright, sunny, and calm walk up the glacier. They are now in camp looking forward to a good night's rest with everyone feeling good.  They just finished with appetizers. They might try and reach the hut tomorrow.
     
     
     
    Transcript of audio update for those following on mobile devices:

    Hello, this is Annie calling from the Vatnajokull Expedition, calling on behalf of Rob and Eric and Eric Lillstrom and John Gluckman. We're having a good time up on the glacier. We are 17 kilometers onto the glacier. We had a long day today. Got up very early to try to take advantage of the cooler temperatures for a river crossing and it worked and but it took us the first 5 hours of the day just to get to the edge of the glacier, and then we were able to put in about 17 kilometers on to the glacier. It started off with some light mist and sometimes heavy mist, almost rain and some stronger winds, but now, and for the last few hours, it has been calm and sunny.  Every so often a few clouds roll and then sunny again, so we're really blessed by this good weather.  We had a big wind storm last night and our tents were fluttering around and so it makes us appreciate this nice calm weather even more. We're all doing good.  We hope you're enjoying following along, and we will report back in tomorrow. Thanks!  Bye-bye.

    Written on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 20:59 in Expedition Updates
  • Team is camped close to the Vatnajokull Glacier

    The team was picked up at their hotel in Reykjavik at 5 AM today to drive to the glacier.  They traveled for about 6 hours to Jokulheimar where they ran into a river that they weren't able to cross due to high water levels.  They found a protected spot to camp about 1.5-2 km from the edge of the glacier.  They were glad to find a protected area as the forecast is for gale force winds tonight.  (Click on today's blog title to see the full dispatch including audio update)

    Written on Monday, 15 May 2017 18:37 in Expedition Updates
  • The team gathers in Reykjavik

    The expedition begins!  The team met in Reykjavik and spent the day reviewing their kit, practicing making camp, discussing their daily itinerary and getting to know one another.   When they phoned in, they were getting ready to head out for dinner and their official welcome festivities.  They are excited to be heading out early in the morning for Jokulheimar on the western edge of Vatnajökull.

    Stay tuned for updates from the trail.

    Written on Monday, 15 May 2017 01:53 in Expedition Updates
  • Off to Iceland

    Our guide team of Annie and Eric are off to Iceland to prepare for our crossing of the Vatnajökull Icecap.

    The team will be on the trail for nine days, giving regular updates along the way. Follow along for stories and pictures from the land of fire and ice!

    Written on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 15:44 in Expedition Updates
  • March for Science in Longyearbyen and reflections from the guides

    Our guides are busy cleaning, sorting and organizing gear for next year.  And there is a LOT of gear!  Not to mention catching up on sleep as especially the last few days of their expedition were anything but restful!

    The highlight of the day was participating in the March for Science in Longyearbyen.  They joined with the Norwegian Polar Institute, UNIS (the University Centre of Svalbard), local residents of Longyearbyen and others to march down the main street of Longyearbyen and through the pedestrian mall to a gathering where they listened to presentations on the importance of science in our lives and policy.  It was dramatic to take part in this event in an area that has been so dramatically altered by climate change.  The landscape and polar pack ice are changing significantly and it is important for science to tell us why.  Our teams experienced significant changes this year.  One example was having to use ice screws to set up their camps each night whereas in the past they were able to use ice stakes and skis.  There was not enough snow pack this year which is an indication that they were on much younger ice.  There is less and less multi-year ice so it is more susceptible to disappear each summer.  Tom Skilling, THE weather guru in Chicago, has called the Arctic our "canary in the coal mine".

    Written on Saturday, 22 April 2017 17:18 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • ALL TEAM MEMBERS BACK IN LONGYEARBYEN ON TERRA FIRMA!!!

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Welcome back to Terra Firma!!!  Wish we had been able to be there at the Longyearbyen airport as official welcoming committee for our most amazing North Pole team members and guides!  We (representing all of us around the globe following your epic exploits) are so extremely proud of each and every one of you!!!  Hoping you felt all the positive Polar energy that has been coming at you for the last week, getting stronger in the last few as you faced your biggest challenges.  Absolutely amazing that you flew from Longyearbyen late on 14 April, encountered polar bear in your camps, found a way around that massive lead, kept spirits up for everyone all through the day and night as you persevered to find a way North, reached your goal and arrived back in Longyearbyen around 1:00 AM on 21 April local time.

    All have beds and showers awaiting themSmile.  Some may be imbibing a bit after their showers... Definitely they deserve a huge celebration!!!

    WAY TO GO!!  WHAT AN INSPIRATION TO ALL!!!

    Written on Thursday, 20 April 2017 23:22 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • SUPER COMBINED TEAM AT THE POLE!!! (with audio updates from both teams)

    HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO SUPER COMBINED TEAM (aka Team Cool Running/Team Polaris/Maniacs/Car Ramrod) made up of Qobin, Shahrom, Boiy, Dexter, Jim, Dean, Pia, Tamas, Mike & Joel led by super guides Annie, Eric, CP and Taylor!!!  They reached the Pole at 5:15 PM Norwegian time after an epic journey.  What an awesome birthday present to Qobin turning 35 today and to Mike's daughter Lauren turning 5 today!!  They displayed amazing determination and drive to not be thwarted by the massive open water, putting one ski in front of the other all night and all day till they reached their goal.  They are obviously exhausted but elated!

    The helicopters will be picking all the teams up in about 1.5 hours and shuttling them back to Barneo.  They will then board the Antonov straight away and head back to Longyearbyen, anticipating arriving around midnight tonight.

    Major kudos to all team members!! 

    Listen to the audio updates below (transcriptions to be added shortly)

    Hi, it's Niall from Team Yellow reporting in from the North Pole.  Whee!!  So it's been 2 days since our last update and yesterday we did 16 nautical miles in pretty poor visibility and conditions. We came across an open water lead at 58 minutes North so only two miles from the Pole.  A massive sense of deja vu from the last time when I did it with my other son James where we hit an open water lead at the same spot and never got across it. We camped at midnight after walking for 12 hours and got up at 5:00 and started skiing by 7:00.  After a bit of walking down the open water lead, we found a way across it and made the North Pole at 1:00 this afternoon so great news!  The team, all 6 of us have done extremely well, and hats off to Keith and Andrew, our guides, who put in the extra effort to make sure we got here.   So all good, a very good story and delighted that we made it to the North Pole and extra special to have made it with my son Patrick. Thanks so much. Bye.

    This is Eric calling in from the Super Combined Ultra Special Team, and I'm happy to report that about 15 minutes ago 5:15 Norwegian time, we arrived at the North Pole. It was a tough day going.  Yesterday we ran into a big open lead of water 2 miles away from the North Pole, and there was no visible way around it. We had already been skiing for upwards of 15 hours with only a few hours’ sleep, and so we decided to camp for just a couple hours to get some rest, eat some food and then our last push of the day was another 6 hours of skiing and it paid off!  We managed to find a way around the lead and now we're standing at the North Pole and we couldn't be happier!! So thank you guys for following along. I know that we're all looking forward to seeing you guys in person when we get home and until then, thanks for following.

    Written on Thursday, 20 April 2017 15:36 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • TEAM YELLOW AT THE POLE!!!

    TEAM YELLOW JUST CALLED IN FROM THE NORTH POLE!!!!

    A very hard won victory, making the prize that much sweeter.  The team of Niall, Patrick (Patch), Henry, Martin, Lindsay, Mark, Keith and Andrew is knackered but very, very happy!  They traveled for 7.5 hours, searching and searching for a way to get around this massive lead which was more like a lake.  They finally found a small pinch area and guides Keith Heger and Andrew Leary built an ice bridge.  They carefully assisted each team member cross to solid enough ice to finally head North to the Pole.  The accomplishment is especially appreciated by team member Niall Carton from the UK traveling with his 15 y.o. son Patrick.  In 2014, Niall skied with his other son James and they were blocked at 88° North, never ultimately able to reach the Pole.  As one can imagine, this year's conditions led to a dreaded sense of deja vu.  But success is theirs now!  The team is resting comfortably in their tents, anticipating a helicopter pick up to Barneo in a couple of hours.

    Super Combined Team are still plugging away, following the trail of Team Yellow, searching for their magic spot to cross.  The ice is drifting South, making for even more of a challenge.  But they are equally determined and we have faith that their golden opportunity will come.  Keep that positive Polar energy flowing!

    Congratulations to all team members for their determination, perseverance, strength and fortitude!!  All should be very proud of themselves!

    Written on Thursday, 20 April 2017 12:46 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Teams still on task but stalled by major lead

    Super Combined Team just phoned in.  They are at N 89° 58.006, E 119° 23.  They have met up with Team Yellow, confronting the same large lead lying between the teams and the Pole.  Team Yellow has been seeking an end to this lead since their last check in.  They have been camped here for several hours and are now ready to hit the trail again, determined to find a way to the Pole if at all possible.  Super Combined Team (who have now dubbed themselves Cool Running/Maniacs/Car Ramrod- still having a sense of humor!) will rest for a while, then head out again.  All are still safe and focused on their mission.  We will keep you posted whenever further word comes in.  Knowing they have family, friends and followers all over the world in many different time zones, please continue to send out positive Polar energy to help them reach their goal!

     

    Written on Thursday, 20 April 2017 04:22 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Going for the Pole!

    The teams just called in with an update, but it won't be the last one of the day...  All teams are on a mission to reach the North Pole!  There have been no further signs of bear- no tracks, no bears- great news!  Current positions are:  Team Yellow N 89° 57.30, East 111° 58   Super Combined Team N 89° 53.9, East 110° 58.  Team Yellow has been confronted by a large lead so they are heading East in hopes of finding a way around it and making the last 2.5 nautical miles to the Pole.  With the finish line so close in their sights, they are determined to get there.  Super Combined Team are taking a break for dinner, rehydrating and getting a little rest.  They plan to break camp in a few hours and continue their trek, skiing through the night till they reach the top of the world!  Everyone is pumped up, psyched, full of gritty determination.  Once they reach the Pole, they are looking for a rapid helicopter flight to Barneo and perhaps quickly back to LongyearbyenSmile.

    Go, go, go!  Go, teams, go!  Please help in sending them positive Polar energy- we know they have a lot of support behind them so let's all get it out there in the Universe!!

    Stay tuned- more update coming as we hear from them at the Pole!

    Written on Wednesday, 19 April 2017 19:40 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
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