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

  • River crossings, terminal moraines and sheets!
    River crossings, terminal moraines and sheets!

    Congratulations to the team for a successful crossing of the Vatnajokull Glacier!

    Written on Thursday, 26 May 2016 01:05 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Outdoor Living!
    Outdoor Living!

    Annie reports that the team skied 8 miles today with weather that included the range from warmer in the morning turning colder as the cloud cover settled onto the Glacier. They have descended now to within sight of the famous Jokulsarlon Lagoon. Famous for the Floating Icebergs that travel the lagoon and meet the open sea of the south coast of Iceland. The day saw them travel surrounded by steep snowless mountain peaks. They are traveling on an active glacier that is moving and a highlight is to hear the glacier grone and creak. Just imagine the power and enormity of this. A highlight was a flock of geese that ventured up the glacier "flying by" the team as they headed back to the shores of the Atlantic. The team spent the evening preparing an outdoor kitchen to share the last trail meal. Camping on snow allows the luxury of sculpting the landscape into a perfect home away from home so why not feast in your own outdoor kitchen. Tomorrow the team will conclude the descent of the largest glacier in Europe to the shores of the Jokulsarlon Lagoon and meet transportation back to Reykjavik. Stay tuned for more.

    Team Location: https://iridium.com/floating/map?lat=64.153927&lon=-16.493977

    Written on Tuesday, 24 May 2016 21:50 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Into the weather!
    Into the weather!

    Nancy reports from the glacier that the team skied into the weather. Starting with clear blue skies this morning the team travelled into the "snow globe". The system approached from the south. By days end the team reports complete white out with warmer temperatures at or near freezing, sleet and wind of 30 km. These conditions are certainly manageable but are not ideal for climbing the nearby peak Hvannadalshnúkur (2110 m). So in the next days the team will begin to descend to the  Breidarlon Glacier Lagoon with the hopes of chasing better weather and calving glaciers. Stay tuned for more. 

    Make sure to check out the teams location http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=64.121830&lon=-16.664907

    Update to the photo from Happy Birthday Heather. The team sent an update with better quality! Check it out. 



    Written on Monday, 23 May 2016 21:15 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • On the move!
    On the move!

    The team is back on the move. WIth a huge day of 17.5 miles skied from the luxury of the Hut. They were on the move for just under 10 hour and encountered various weather. Cold and clear to start then warmer with strong winds up to 30 km per hour. Make sure to have a listen to the audio update the connection proved to be a challenge but all report healthy an happy to be back on the move.

    Team Location: https://iridium.com/floating/map?lat=64.259795&lon=-16.903607

    Written on Sunday, 22 May 2016 20:30 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Happy Birthday Heather!
    Happy Birthday Heather!

    Peter reports from the Grismvotn Crater Hut today. Make sure to have a listen. The weather was spotty and great views eluded the team. However the day was spent relaxing, enjoying some of the various treats such as music and games. Peter notes the connect four games turned competitive. Of course they enjoyed the sauna and the chance to eat through their rations. The weather forecast looks great for tomorrow which sees the team back on the trail. For Peter this is a special day as it is his wife's Heather's birthday. Happy Birthday Heather! Peter and the rest of the team would not be able to enjoy this journeys without the support of family! 

    Picture says Happy Birthday Heather. 


    Written on Sunday, 22 May 2016 02:03 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Hike to the Hut!
    Hike to the Hut!

    John reports via audio update that the team is comfortably positioned at the Grimsvotn Hut on the rim of the caldera. The huts sit atop a geothermally active area (as recent as 2011) which provide the hut with a natural heat source. After the last few days of travel, the hut and included sauna provide a welcome relief to achy muscles. They are in no rush as tomorrow is a planned rest day to soak up the stunning beauty. They travelled just under 8 hours and covered 9 miles and 2000' of elevation today. The weather was partly cloudy with breaks of sunshine. A 10mph headwind kept the just below freezing temperature on the colder side. Annie reports her hair was in a constant state of frost. Make sure to check out the teams position at the link below. If you zoom in on the map you can actually see the huts on the caldera rim. 


    Written on Friday, 20 May 2016 20:58 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Sunny day equals fun day.
    Sunny day equals fun day.

    The team reported great progress. They skied 13 miles. Under nice weather, partly cloudy right around freezing or slightly below. They only had to put on mitts occasionally to warm their fingers.  Wind is always a concern on the open expanse of the glacier but the team managed the 8-10 m/s. They report that it is coming at them on their right cheek. With 13 miles behind them everyone hit the hay early as they all were pretty tired. The team is now 7 miles from Grimsvotn. Everyone is have have a great time. They say HELLO to all their friends and family and hope they are having fun following along. 

    Check out the teams location here: https://iridium.com/floating/map?lat=64.361263&lon=-17.535092

    Written on Friday, 20 May 2016 05:19 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Drop Off success and onward up the glacier!
    Drop Off success and onward up the glacier!

    John Reamer (make sure to listen to his audio update below) reports that the team travelled 7 hours by all terrain vehicle through several challenging river crossings requiring the support of the "Super Jeep" to winch the other vehicle to safety. These are known and planned for obstacles which once managed saw the team at the start of the short 4.5 mile ski day. 2 hours on the trail pulling sleds and skiing roped together for safety has the team at their first campsite. Check out the Iridium map for their current position.  They report overcast conditions and temps right around freezing. Check back for the team's progress. 


    John Reamer day one update.
    Written on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 20:21 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Kickoff of the 2016 Vatnajokull Crossing
    Kickoff of the 2016 Vatnajokull Crossing

    Annie reports this afternoon that the team is all gear checked, sleds are packed and have been loaded on the Icelandic all terrain vehicles for the early morning drop off. Tune into the Kickoff call (below)  and post dinner photo of the team as they check-in before their early AM departure.   The plan is a 6 to 9 hour off road drive to the toe of the glacier. The travel is the first challenge with several river crossings as formidable challenges for team and trucks.  Stay tuned for more tomorrow.


    Kickoff call from Annie.
    Written on Tuesday, 17 May 2016 16:22 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Welcome to our 2016 Vatnajökull Blog!

    We are very excited to be gathering on May 17 in Reykjavik, Iceland for the start of this expedition. We have a wonderful team of skiers who are all making final preparations for the upcoming adventure. This blog will officially kick off on May 17 with daily updates and audio dispatches from the glacier.

    We look forward to having you join us for this incredible expedition.

    Written on Wednesday, 04 May 2016 21:15 in Vatnajökull Ski Expedition
  • Back in Longyearbyen, expedition wrap up

    What a wonderful expedition it was! The last couple of days were busy and exciting. After the Air Berlin fly by and pick up from the Pole the team spent the night near the Barneo runway in their own tents. The next morning (April 24) they walked over the the Barneo Ice Camp where they met some Russian military personnel who were very welcoming.

    Written on Tuesday, 26 April 2016 14:19 in 2016 North Pole Last Degree Ski Blog
  • Day at the North Pole

    While waiting for extraction, the team spent all day today enjoying their time at the Geographic North Pole. There are still several other teams en route to the pole that will be getting air-lifted out together. The guys took advantage of the extra time by having a second photo shoot (photos coming soon) and relaxing in their tents.

    Written on Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:15 in 2016 North Pole Last Degree Ski Blog
  • Success! The Pole!

    Great news! The team reached the North Pole today at 4:30 PM local time. Way to go team!!

    They awoke to an overcast sky but the wind had died down from yesterday to around 5-10 kts. The temperature had also warmed to around 0 F. There was a light snow falling as they skied.

    Again they passed through zones of pressure separated by a few decent sized pans. Traveling on pan ice is a wonderful break from the zig zagging of navigating pressure ridges. It allows you to travel must faster and it's a nice break for the mind as well.

    The last two nautical miles to the pole were increasingly pressurized. They were doing lots of skiing to the east or west without much northwards progress. They reached one large pressure ridge and Keith paused to ask the team which way they thought would be best. Andrew immediately answered, "to the right of course!" (Andrew is an active member of the New Zealand National Party).

    Finally they were in the home stretch and James led the final distance to the Geographic North Pole. 

    They celebrated their significant achievement before setting up camp where the party is continuing on. They are making calls home and drinking the Aurora Borealis cocktails (that's 1/2 champagne, 1/2 vodka and a handful of snow from the Geographic North Pole). 

    Everyone is doing great and all are having a good time. 

    Here's a shot of them celebrating with their Aurora Borealis cocktails

    We are awaiting their audio update so check back again soon!

    Congratulations to our entire team! Andrew, James, Mike and Keith, you all did a superb job and we are thrilled that you are now celebrating at the top of the world. Enjoy it!

    Written on Friday, 22 April 2016 18:24 in 2016 North Pole Last Degree Ski Blog
  • The Home Stretch

    Current Position N 89°49'41" E 135°27'10"

    That puts our team at just over 10 nautical miles away from the North Pole! 

    Written on Thursday, 21 April 2016 19:29 in 2016 North Pole Last Degree Ski Blog
  • Progressing Steadily

    Current position (N 89° 37' 16" E 123° 49' 32")

    The Last Degree team made excellent progress again today as they navigated over and around an increasing number of pressure ridges and rubble zones, followed by a long flat pan of ice. Their tenacious pace, coupled with positive drift, (1.5 nautical miles overnight) has put them well ahead of schedule as they approach the 2/3 mark of the expedition.

    Written on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 20:44 in 2016 North Pole Last Degree Ski Blog


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