FULL South Pole Ski Expedition

The Full South Pole Expedition challenges even the most experienced adventurers. Expect driving winds, heavy sleds, eight to ten hours of skiing each day and temperatures plunging well below zero. Expect also pristine wilderness, surreal beauty and the adventure of a lifetime. Polar exploration at its finest!

Like the early polar explorers you will set out for the South Pole from the Antarctic coast, climbing from sea level and scaling the Polar Plateau. Prior experience is required for this extreme expedition. Contact PolarExplorers for more information here.


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

South Pole Full Daily Itinerary

Pre-expedition: Meet in Punta Arenas, Chile. Individual gear check. Official welcome reception and dinner in evening.

Day 1
Depart for Antarctica (weather permitting). The 4.5 hour flight will take us across the Drake Passage, past the coast of Antarctica and to the Union Glacier basecamp base camp.
Day 2-3
We'll spend two days at or near the Union Glacier basecamp base camp practicing our routine and ensuring that "all systems are go" before we depart for our starting point. This will likely include an overnight shakedown with our loaded sleds as well as time to acclimatize to the spectacular environment.
Day 5-60
A short flight by ski-equipped Twin Otter takes us to Hercules Inlet or the Messner Start, our two different starting points for this expedition. Depending on the route the first few days may see us climbing from approximately sea level to 800 meters. From Hercules Inlet, the Geographic South Pole lies over a thousand kilometers away (730 miles). From the Messner Start it lies 930 kilometers away (580 miles). The terrain will vary from wind blasted snow, to blue ice (very slick), to softer snow. We will also encounter sastrugi (wind patterns in the snow) which can range in size from a few centimeters to over a meter. As we make our way south, we'll pass beautiful nunataks (tips of mountains poking up through the snow) and see mountains both near and far. The temperatures may range significantly, but we can expect anything from -15c to -40 c. The wind will often be in our face as it pours off the Antarctic plateau towards the ocean. It will be one of the many challenges that we face on a daily basis. Additionally, we'll continue a gradual ascent from 800 meters to approximately 3,330 meters near the South Pole.
Day 60+
Extra time built into the itinerary for weather delays, rest days, etc.

South Pole FULL Expedition: Equipment List

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

  • 1 pair skis and ski poles
  • 1 pair skins covering the full length of your skis
  • 1 pair snow pack ski boots
  • Sleeping bag rated to at least -35° Celsius
  • Bivy sack
  • 2 sleeping pads
  • 1 wind anorak with hood
  • 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
  • 3 sets mitts: 1 regular, 1 overmitts, 1 spare regular mitts or gloves
  • 2 pair liner or "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

PolarExplorers FULL South Pole Expedition Qualifications

This is an extremely challenging expedition designed for people looking for and prepared for the ultimate adventure. A resume of your previous expedition experience and approval of the guide is required for your participation. Full medical evacuation insurance is required. Please contact us for more details.


South Pole Full Dates & Rates

2016-2017 Dates

November 11, 2016 – January 9, 2017 (Hercules Inlet Start)

November 11, 2016 - January 3, 2017 (Messner Start)


Please contact us for pricing


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

Expeditions 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.

Select a policy below to receive a quote or purchase a policy:

I live in the USA or Canada

Travelex Insurance

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

Travel Guard

Trip Cancellation & Medical Evacuation Purchase the policy within 14 days to get a pre-exisisting medical condition wavier.

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.)

I live Outside the USA or Canada

Travelex Insurance

Important! Add the ADVENTURE PLUS PAK to receive appropriate medical evacuation coverage.

South Pole FULL Expedition Testimonials

Bryony BalenMany thanks to everyone at PolarExplorers for making this expedition possible for me. I enjoyed every minute of it (even though I didn't expect to) and that was in part due to our guide's leadership.

Bryony Balen


Dennis WoodsIf you are seriously considering this trip you should do it. Make sure you have an iPod that has lots of fast, upbeat music. Train until it hurts for at least 6 months before departure. Take Jelly Babies and insist on lots of beer nuts from PolarExplorers.

Dennis Woods

Don't undertake this expedition lightly. Be prepared, put some weight on and get your head in the right place before you start.

Bryony Balen

  • Final full day in Union Glacier

    With their last full scheduled day at Union Glacier there was a lot going on today. Some of the team relaxed while others when on hikes and/or drives.

    Written on Saturday, 09 January 2016 04:32 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • More exploring around Union Glacier

    Today's activities included a hike up a non-technical hill for some and for the others the day started with a lecture about British polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott.

    Written on Friday, 08 January 2016 04:01 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • The adventure continues...

    With a good night's rest behind them and being off the high polar plateau (where at the South Pole it feels like you are at 12,000 feet) everyone was ready for more adventure today.

    Written on Thursday, 07 January 2016 03:11 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • Back at Union Glacier

    After a great time at the South Pole our team has returned to the more pleasant latitude of Union Glacier where on a nice calm day it can feel down right balmy.

    Written on Wednesday, 06 January 2016 04:35 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • The South Pole!

    All day we kept waiting to hear from our team and we could only guess that the lack of contact meant that they were very busy having a good time, and we were right!

    Written on Tuesday, 05 January 2016 05:53 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • Arrival in Antarctica

    Game on! Our South Pole Flight team flew made the flight today from Punta Arenas to the Union Glacier Basecamp in Antarctica.  A little over four hours after take off the Ilyushin-76 aircraft landed on Union Glacier's ice runway (at around 2:30 PM local time).

    Written on Monday, 04 January 2016 03:34 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • Exploring Punta Arenas

    Our 2016 South Pole Flight team is in Punta Arenas and all are very excited for their flight to Antarctica and onwards to the South Pole.

    Written on Saturday, 02 January 2016 18:51 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • Welcome to the 2016 South Pole Flight Blog!

    Our 2016 South Pole Flight is just around the corner! Team members are packing their kit and preparing to head to Antarctica for this spectacular adventure. We are excited to share their journey with you via this blog. Check back again on January 1 for the official start to this blog! You'll find audio dispatches and updates about the expedition's daily activities.

    We'll see you again soon!

    South Pole Expedition sign

    Written on Friday, 18 December 2015 17:11 in 2016 South Pole Flight Blog
  • A Grand Conclusion

    After safely descending the mountain and having a heartwarming farewell, the team is finally on their way home. Listen below as Oliver recounts the day. You can feel the team's feelings of happiness, relief, and accomplishment. 

    Great work gentlemen! We wish you peace and prosperity until our next adventure together.

    Hello, here is Oliver speaking to you again from the greatest Kilimanjaro expedition of all time. Today we had the last passage away from the, I don't know what the camp is called, to the base camp ***** at 5,000ft of altitude. We had and incredible welcome and goodbye ceremony from all our porters and by the whole team. We had a tipping a ceremony that meant that all of the porters, cooks, guides, received and envelope with a tip inside from our group to say thank you. We received our documents that we really made it, that we really summitted the Kilimanjaro, and we danced ******* We had a nice lunch in this basecamp so it was an absolutely fantastic end to the trip. Then we went by car to Arusha, we had a little shower in a very nice resort and now we are preparing to fly home ******** All in all it was fantastic and just great event with an incredibly good team spirit thanks to Rick. ***** I can't even describe it, it gave a very good feeling and to all of us it was one of our greatest adventures of our lives and ***** and we are happy that it's over. ***** we are very happy ******.

    Written on Monday, 07 December 2015 15:32 in Custom Expeditions
  • Success! On the roof of Africa!

    Congratulations to the entire team for summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro today, Sunday, in the morning hours. We are proud of everyone for successfully reaching the top. It takes a lot of determination and effort to make this ascent. Well done everyone!

    After reaching their goal they celebrated and then began their descent. This may sound easy but despite it being easier on the lungs it is definitely harder on the knees and feet. The good news is that what took several days to hike up will only take a day and a half to get down.

    They reported in from Camp Mweka which is at 3,000 meters, and roughly half way down from the summit towards the Mweka village. They are relaxing and enjoying dinner and drinks in camp and looking ahead to tomorrow which will be their last day on the mountain.

    Again, a huge congratulations to the team! Great job everyone!!!

    Make sure to listen to Alexander's audio dispatch! 

    "Hello. this is Alexander with what is today Team Stronger(?) of the Kilimanjaro Expedition, we are, after summiting today, all of us, at Camp Mweka, at 3,000 meters above sea level, so we've come all the way down from 5,985 meters to 3,000. All in all we walked 12 kilometers today that's roughly 9 miles, or 7.2 miles, Rick is correcting me, and as I said everybody summiting, and after summiting the pressure obviously decreased a little bit but then we had a long descent into this camp and now we are sitting here sipping a wonderful drink in the midst of the rain forest and waiting for our last day tomorrow. So greetings to everyone who is listening from Tanzania. Bye bye". (The phone is then handed to another person)... "Hello my name is Jaosuta (??), a Mt. Kilimanjaro guide, speaking from Mweka campsite now. I have a fantastic group to summit here in 2015 (he then lists everyone's names). So we are coming from the summit where everyone has been successful, which is fantastic, and then tomorrow the end of the mountain. Thank you very much."



    Written on Sunday, 06 December 2015 22:57 in Custom Expeditions
  • Ascending to Crater Camp. No dinosaurs!

    The team today arrived at Crater Camp after a difficult ascent but they had sunshine to welcome them. Crater Camp has a very lunar landscape and it can feel like you are on the moon.

    In reality you are on the roof of Africa. The team will spend the night tonight at Crater Camp where they hope to get some rest before their early start tomorrow. The summit is within striking distance and they look forward to reaching the highest point in all of Africa. 

    Make sure to listen to Oliver's audio dispatch. For those of you unable to listen to the audio we have transcribed his words:

    "Hello my name is  Oliver (...poor connection) I have decided to call it the Hammer Group, this is a German expression which means it means it was an incredible hard climb today...Nobody told me for before and I think it was quit a good idea because it was a bit like pure alpinism but of course we are in the good hands of Jonas and Rick and all of us managed to reach the Crater camp expect our friend..." (reception lost).

    "Yes, here is Oliver again, I saw that our call was interrupted unfortunately, so I start when we arrived in the crater camp which is an incredible landscape, a bit prehistoric and we expected that dinosaurs would come around the corner to eat us up. But we were very happy it was not like that, no dinosaurs. Great  prepared camp and the sun was all over so we put on our sun cream and everything was well prepared by Rick and his team.  Of course we had one exception in our team and that was Philip for he summited already today to make us feel bad.. small... little and unimportant (said with laughter), and um... (ha ha ha) but this is major so we get over it. We are all looking very very forward to summit tomorrow morning. We will start in the dark night, and yeah, we are very very happy do that. Thank you very much, Bye bye."


    Written on Saturday, 05 December 2015 17:27 in Custom Expeditions
  • Arrow Glacier Camp

     Today the team woke up to 1/2 inch of light snow at Lava Camp (elevation ~4600m). They hiked 90 minutes with warming temperatures through mist and light rain up to the Arrow Glacier Camp (elevation ~4900m). When we spoke with the team they had eaten an early dinner and were getting to bed early for an early morning start. Tomorrow the team will ascend about 1000m up the Western Breach and into the Crater where they will camp tomorrow night.

     "Korbinian Kiesl, from Aaron Glacier camp reporting today on December 4th. We are on our way with the "Gorillas in the mist team." Yeah. We had quite a short walk today from the Lava Tower camp up to here the weather was not the best, never the less we are getting close and we had a good chance to see already the last task and we are quite positive to make it up the last 1000 meters. We will get up tomorrow morning quite early, so we had dinner a little bit earlier than usual. Greetings to all the families of the Gorillas in the mist team, and everybody's fine Nobody has so far any problems, and we are all on the on track especially Oliver he's on the Autobahn yeah. Our local team built Oliver a special Autobahn, and he will reveal that later alright. Everyone is good except team Gorillas in the mist  was refused the "ropa" today, and they're not happy about it. Hopefully at the summit. Ciao for now."


    Written on Friday, 04 December 2015 15:40 in Custom Expeditions
  • Up to Lava Camp

    The team moved up to Lava Camp today at an elevation of 4500 meters. 

    The day began clear and crisp with frost on the ground and tents. As they climbed clouds rolled in and they are again under overcast skies with snow forecasted. The hike took 4 hours and included a side hike to summit the Lava Tower itself. These side hikes aid in acclimatization and offer the team a chance to move together seeking that high point. As we spoke the team was preparing for dinner. Everyone is in good spirits and reported 10 out of 10 on the Fun Meter!
    Stay tuned for more updates on the team! 
    Here are two audio updates from Alexander and Oliver.
    "Hi this is Alexander Rittweger reporting in from Shira 2 Camp on day 4. Lava tower camp sorry, on day 4 on the expedition of the **** Group. And before you start listening to this, may I drop the comment that our wives complained that the blog was so short that they didn't bother looking at it again. So please transcribe ever single word I say from now on. Thank you very much. Today was a great day, and um, it started with a fantastic sunny morning with breakfast in front of Kilimanjaro Mountain and after that we trekked for roughly 5 hours up to an altitude of roughly 4,600 meters which would translate into 15,000 feet approximately. We then had lunch and climbed the Lava Tower. Um, special events of the day were obviously the climbing of the Lava Tower in the rain which made it quite slippery and I would say there was a 3+/4- climb which made it very interesting, um no ropes attached. On our arrival at the campsite we were greeted by a fantastic dance which lasted for something like 30 minutes and squeezed the remaining oxygen out of our lungs. Second amazing event was how awesome our friend Oliver Berger used the portable toilet. Today the record stands at 7 and counting. We shall continue to report on this. Thank you and have a great evening."
    Hello, my name is Oliver from lovely Munich which you may know from the famous Beerfest, we call it Oktoberfest, and it is one of the most lovely towns in the world and you should com to see it. First of all "ha ha" I have to do a little touristic promotion. I call from the Lava Tower camp at 4,700m altitude and I would like to describe to you our day which started at 6:30am, almost frozen ground and some ice on the tents which is a bit horrible when you wake up in your sleeping bag. We managed to start at the right time because at 7:30am we had a wonderful sunrise in Shira 2 camp so I could even wash my hair in the sun which is an exception. Normally it is too cold out there and I had this opportunity and it was just fantastic. And then we started our walk up to Lava Tower camp which took us a bit more than 5 hours through wonderful landscapes turning from some trees turning into really a bit like the moon so we expected the aliens coming around the corner to catch us but "ha ha ha" we were fortunate they did not come. Then we arrived at the Lava Tower camp to have a nice little lunch right were we have a soup master cook so Rick organized the world championship of soup cooking. Every soup we received was just delicious and I have to mention it because it was just exceptional. After lunch we made a little break and then climbed Lava Tower which is really a challenge because it is a steep rock without any plants on it. On the descent it started raining which made it even a bit more complicated climbing down if to be honest a bit much more difficult and a bit more dangerous than climbing up. I don't know from where it comes. But we made it, nobody got injured and we were quite happy to have taken the challenge today. Now it is half past 6 and dinner will be served in within some minutes and I think we have another great day, a challenging day because we did some hundred meters of altitude today..."
    Written on Thursday, 03 December 2015 16:15 in Custom Expeditions
  • Beautiful day on the Shira Plateau

    Today the team reports beautiful weather and incredible scenery on the Shira Plateau. After a good night's rest (no rain!) the team had breakfast and started the day with a dance and song from the porters (the team is supported by a team of 25 porters!) Afterwards they had a leisurely hike to see the Shira Cathedral before ending at Shira Camp 2. With clear skies the summit dome presented itself in all its vigor. They are at 3,600 meters. The plan tomorrow is to move up to Lava Towers with almost 2000 meters of elevation gain! Rest up team that's a huge increase on today's total.

    Listen to today's update from Philip and make sure to check back again tomorrow for another update from the team.

    Written on Wednesday, 02 December 2015 16:55 in Custom Expeditions
  • Arrived at the Shira Plateau

    The team reported in today that successfully reached the Shira Plateau where they will spend the night. Their elevation is 3600 M (11,100 ft). The day started out with a beautiful sun rise before the rain returned. Despite being wet everyone is in good spirits and the dining tent is filled with good conversation and laughter.

    Written on Tuesday, 01 December 2015 17:40 in Custom Expeditions


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