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

  • 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".

    See photos from the march below.

    We would like to give a final shout out to all of our team members this year and congratulate all on a job extraordinarily well done!!  So very proud of each and every one of you!

    Last Degree Ski Team Members
    Shahrom Abdullah
    Dean Attwell
    Lindsay Barber
    Niall Carton
    Patrick Carton
    Martin Frey
    Mike Grigsby
    Jim Holliday
    Muhammad (Boiy) Irwan
    Pia Irwin
    Muqharabbin (Qobin) Mokhtarrudin
    Dexter Salna
    Joel Schauer
    Tamas Seregi
    Mark Shuttleworth
    Henry Smith

    Led by guides extraordinaire:
    Annie Aggens
    Keith Heger
    Andrew Leary
    Eric Lillstrom
    Chris Paustian
    Taylor Sweitzer

    10 Km Ski Team Members:
    Karen (Clark) Ashton
    Jim Chaffin
    Alan Clark
    Stuart Clark
    David (Chimu) McGrain
    Led by Nancy Moundalexis

    North Pole Fliers with Overnight Barneo:
    Pao Chen
    Richard Christiansen
    David Fournie
    Ivan Galan
    Jane Golubev
    Dena Grayson
    Chris Harrop
    Suparna Kundu
    Arthur Loibl
    William McCarthy
    Carl Metz
    Rohit Sharma
    Igor Tesker
    Led by Rick Sweitzer

    And and extra special shout-out to our newest official members of our "Bi-Polar Club" (they have now been to both the North and South Poles with PolarExplorers):
    Shahrom Abdullah
    Mike Grigsby
    William McCarthy
    Joel Schauer

    Photos from today's March for Science in Longyearbyen:

     

     

     

    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
  • 10 nautical miles north and no sign of bears! A fabulous day!!

    The teams reported another great day of travel with bright blue skies, nice open pans of ice, some areas of rubble but very manageable, minimal wind, and cold temps (-25°).  Team Yellow led by Keith & Andrew is at N 89° 44, E 102°.  Super Combined Team (Cool Running and Polaris) is at N 89° 41.6, E 111°.  They did not run across any significant leads- a few cracks in the ice where they could look down at the water but they were only 4-6" wide. 

    Love this kind of traveling!  (photo from a previous expedition)

    Written on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 20:01 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Polar bear alert!!

    Last night around 3:30 AM Keith (Team Yellow) awoke to noises outside, only to find a 3-5 year old polar bear sniffing around.  With his firearm at the ready and guide Andrew with flare gun, they managed to scare the bear off to a lumbering retreat.  Though the team slept the balance of the night on pins and needles, they awoke this morning to great conditions, bright blue sky, temperature around -25° C, nice older pans of ice and no open water.  They made good time, resting now at N 89° 33.404, E 103° 46.119 having established polar bear watches through the night by guides Keith Heger and Andrew Leary.

    Picture of the bear seen by Eric Lillstrom of Team Polaris- read about their experiences below.

    Written on Monday, 17 April 2017 22:03 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • 10 K ski team reached Pole, back to Barneo and on to Longyearbyen, last degree teams all making great progress

    The 10 K ski team reached the North Pole after traveling 16 km (fickle Polar ice being what it is...).  They arrived late Saturday evening and spent the night at the North Pole.  They encountered various conditions throughout the day but were ecstatic to reach the Pole.  They were picked up by helicopter Sunday and flew back to Barneo, then on to Longyearbyen.

    The 3 ski last degree ski teams (Team Cool Running led by CP and Taylor, Team Polaris led by Annie and Eric, and Team Yellow led by Keith and Andrew) all made good progress, all camping at N 89° 23, E 108, 107 and 105.67 respectively.  Conditions were good today with some pressure ridges, rubble fields, mix of sun and overcast, minimal wind, -18° C temps but no open water.

    Written on Sunday, 16 April 2017 23:46 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Last degree ski teams all making good progress North

    All of the last degree teams made great progress today, especially considering their late night arrival in camp and their first full day on the ice.  They reported good ice conditions with some small leads, a few pressure ridges but also some nice big pans of ice where they were able to make some distance.   And a very happy birthday to Lucy Carton!  Your brother and dad are thinking of you.

    Written on Saturday, 15 April 2017 19:08 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • 10 km ski team checking in

    The 10 km ski team of Stuart and Alan Clark, Karen (Clark) Ashton, David McGrain (Chimu) and Jim Chaffin called in this morning.  They flew from Barneo to around 10 km from the Pole late Fri/early Saturday, skied for a bit then made camp and went to bed around 4 AM.

    Here is the audio update from Karen:

    Written on Saturday, 15 April 2017 17:04 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Late night update from the last degree ski teams

    The last degree ski teams called in updates tonight.  All teams arrived at Barneo base camp eager to go.  They worked out their kit, fuel, etc. and then got a helicopter ride to their respective starting points for their official start.  Listen (or read) the updates from Keith Heger, Dexter Salna (team Cool Running) and Annie Aggens (team Polaris) below.

    Written on Friday, 14 April 2017 23:50 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Fliers reflect on their experiences at the North Pole, skiers fly to the ice

    A day of comings and goings... the North Pole flight team return to Longyearbyen from Barneo today and reflect on the experience of standing at the top of the world.  The ski teams have taken off from Longyearbyen, heading to Barneo. 

    Boarding the Antonov in Longyearbyen, next stop Barneo.

    Written on Friday, 14 April 2017 15:22 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • Fliers reached the North Pole, skiers are chomping at the bit to head out tomorrow

    The North Pole flight team flew this morning from Longyearbyen to Barneo, then on to the North Pole!  They had a great celebration and spent quite a long time at the Pole, taking photos, drinking champagne and Aurora Borealis and soaking in the stark beauty of being at the top of the world.  They returned to Barneo for the overnight and were treated to special performances by a rock band of locals from Longyearbyen.

    The ski teams spent the day packing up all their gear and sleds, taking them to the airport for the weigh in to get them loaded on the Antonov to head to Barneo on the morning flight tomorrow.  The teams will fly on the afternoon flight around 5 PM.

    Driving the sleds to the airport, the teams saw this seal on an ice floe

    Written on Thursday, 13 April 2017 21:48 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions
  • The adventure officially begins!

    After months of preparation, training, accumulating gear and clothing, anticipation, apprehension, excitement- the 2017 PolarExplorers North Pole Expeditions have officially begun!  The team members all met in Longyearbyen, Norway.  We have a busy season with 3 different last degree ski teams, one 10 km ski team and 2 North Pole flight with overnight at Barneo teams. 

    Written on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 21:48 in 2017 North Pole Expeditions

 

 


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