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 40 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.
- Equipment List
- Dates & Rates
- Trip Insurance
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
December 31, 2018 - January 14, 2019
(reserve dates available)
Please contact us for pricing and availability.
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.
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
Our 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 foreverLaurie Goldsmith
I 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
The 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
It's a wrap!
Your well wishes and crossed fingers worked! The weather cleared and our team departed from Kulusuk this afternoon, saying their final farewell's to Greenland. It was a fitting end to a trip filled with weather delays, storms, & holding patterns, but also plenty of good times and rewarding days and above all a brilliant team.
Thanks to everyone who followed this blog, and thanks to our amazing Greenland team. Heather, Dale, Ian, John, Eric, Taylor, Salo and Julius, you had us wondering how it would all end and we are delighted to have been a part of your adventure.
Until next time!
Greenland Weather Strikes Again!
The team left Tasiilaq this morning on a short helicopter flight to the airport at Kulusuk. They were scheduled to fly to Reykjavik, Iceland a couple hours later.
Photos From Yesterday
We received these photos late last night. Looks like a GREAT end to the expedition! Check back again today for more...
A huge CONGRATULATIONS is in order for our team who reached their final waypoint at approximately 11:30 AM Greenland time and successfully finished their crossing of the Greenland icecap, woohoo!!!!
The Day Described With Four W's
The team could describe today using four words that start with W: wind, whiteout, warm and wet.
Chicken Strips and French Fries!
What does it say when the blog title is about food? Well, for starters food is in the top three things people think about while skiing all day every day...
Better Than Yesterday, But Still Hard
It was another tough day on the Greenland icecap. It was made that way mostly by the fresh, deep snow. The visibility was terrible again but towards the afternoon they got some breaks with a little sunshine. Oh what a sight!
Skiing in a Whiteout
Tough day today. The visibility was nil, there was absolutely no contrast, there was wind in the face, and snow. A whole lot of nothing to look at but the backs of team mates and the butts of dogs.
Getting It Done
This team is getting it done, one day at a time. Today another 37 km are behind them. They are tired but satisfied and the end of the expedition is not too far beyond the horizon.
Making Progress - Another 37 km
The team made great progress today, putting 37 km behind them. The weather was a little of everything. Cloudy, snowy, a little sun, always the wind.
On The Move Again
A day after being tent bound by strong winds the team was back at it. They made 32 kilometers in a slightly modified way of travel.
Another Day, Another Storm
We thought this might happen, but it's not all bad. Another storm day. Strong winds, cold temperatures and low visibility all combine to keep out teams in their tents today.
Shortened Day Due To Wind
It was a beautiful day today, but it was also a cold day and the wind just kept coming and coming (almost a direct headwind). It all started out OK with clear skies but as the wind picked up the ground visibility went down, and with temperatures hovering around 0° F the windchill was REALLY cold.
Cold and Windy But Good
Welcome to another day on the Greenland icecap, where today the wind and the cold were on the minds of our team. They did a great job, putting almost 30km behind them.
Another 30 km Day
Actually it was 30.2 km - a seemingly small difference, but not if you are the person who did all the skiing! They'll take every tenth of a kilometer that they can get!