Polar Shakedown Training

Our Shakedown is the best training trip for aspiring polar explorers; and has been for over 20 years!

Whether you are training for an upcoming polar expedition or simply looking to learn some new skills our Polar Shakedown Training is the best way to build your confidence and level of experience. We cover everything from polar clothing and equipment systems, to navigation, safety systems, food and menu planning, cooking, camping routines, efficiency, and travel by ski or dogsled. Days are spent skiing and/or dogsledding in conditions similar to those you will find at the Poles. Classes are scheduled throughout the day to maximize your learning, and to give you opportunities to ask questions. Evenings are spent making camp and learning how to survive comfortably in the extreme cold. Nighttime readings from the journals of Polar explorers add to the magic of the experience.

Once you arrive at the start of an expedition, there is no time to learn the essentials of surviving in the cold. People who have attended the Shakedown trip are able to handle the stresses in a systematized manner and enjoy their expedition to the fullest. Those who don't have the necessary skills often feel cold, uncomfortable, and overwhelmed for the duration of their expedition. In extreme cases, we have seen people on other expeditions drop out before they even left base camp!

If you are going to make the financial, mental and physical commitment to join a polar expedition, why not ensure that you have the best possible experience?

Join our Polar Shakedown and make the most of your time on the ice! Ask us about this specialized training that will enhance your PolarExplorers expedition here.

 

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

Polar Training Daily Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive in Ely or Longyearbyen, shuttle to our first night's lodge. Over a hearty dinner you'll have an opportunity to meet the other members of the Shakedown training and discuss the upcoming days. After dinner your PolarExplorers guide will closely review each participants clothing and equipment.
Day 2-4
After breakfast we'll hit the trail! For two days and nights you'll experience what its like to survive (and thrive!) in extremely cold temperatures. On our final night we'll make our way back to our lodge for hot showers. For our trainings in January our final night includes the opportunity to ski into a hole cut into the ice. This exercise gives you critical experience in dealing with cold water submerging (an unlikely, but possible occurrence on a North Pole expedition).
Day 5
Before individuals depart for their respective homes, they will have an individual review with their PolarExplorers guide. Our guides will help you create a solid plan so that you arrive for your expedition as prepared as possible.

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

Polar Training Equipment List

Upon registration, you will receive a 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 covering the full length of your skis (supplied by PolarExplorers)
  • 1 pair snow pack ski boots (bring your own or let PolarExplorers supply this item)
  • 1 pair extra boot liners (bring your own or let PolarExplorers supply this item)
  • Sleeping bag rated to at least -35° Celsius (bring your own or let PolarExplorers supply this item)
  • Bivy sack (bring your own or let PolarExplorers supply this item)
  • 2 sleeping pads (supplied by PolarExplorers)
  • 1 wind anorak with hood
  • 1 wind pants
  • 1 insulated parka with hood
  • 1 warm fleece jacket and pants
  • 2 sets synthetic or wool underwear, medium weight top and bottom- 2nd set optional
  • 3 sets mitts: 1 regular, 1 overmitts, 1 spare regular mitts or gloves
  • 2 pair liner 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

Polar Training Qualifications

This training is for people who are in good shape, and who are eager to push themselves physically and mentally. You will need to have very good cardiovascular endurance and the ability to either pull a loaded sled or work with a dogteam for several hours at a time, with only a short break in between sessions.

Towards the end of the day you'll need to have the energy reserves to set up camp, melt snow for hot tea or cocoa and help make dinner. This trip can encounter extremely cold conditions, and living in such cold conditions 24 hours a day can be very challenging.

You do not have to be a world class athlete to participate in and enjoy this trip, but every ounce of training and preparation will help to make the trip more enjoyable and safer. Please contact us with further questions!

Polar Shakedown Training Dates & Rates

2017 Dates

January 29 - February 2, 2017 (USA)

Tentative dates: April 8-12, 2017 (Norway)

Price

$2,500 USD (USA)

€ 2,000 (Norway)

€ 1,500 (discounted price for all North Pole ski expedition team members)

Inclusions vary by location:

Includes lodging and meals as outlined in the itinerary, all group equipment, ski system, sleeping system, sled, guides, permits, communication & safety gear. (USA)

Includes all group equipment, ski system, sleeping system, sled, guides, permits, communication & safety gear. (NORWAY)

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.)

Polar Training Testimonials

I had a great time in Ely (on the Polar Shakedown Training). I learned a lot and I was also very impressed with the way that you all work. Kind, professional, with a good management of the human resources of your participants. That's maybe one of the most important things to succeed in such an adventure. Best regard to all the outstanding team!

Angelo Felguires

Wendy BookerThe entire shakedown was invaluable. I came with some knowledge of winter & expedition travel but I was amazed by what I didn't know and the differences of mountain travel vs. polar travel. The classes were perfect. Even during "down-time" we received instruction.

Wendy Booker

Simon HearnWe learned a great deal on the Shakdedown. I do feel ready for the expedition. Well done - this was efficient, well thought-out and done at the right tempo.

Simon Hearn

  • 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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